Power of Rituals

“Consistency builds trust. Trust creates history.

History builds traditions. Traditions become rituals.”

-Martin Lindstrom

Just what is ritual? Rituals are activities that are meaningful to people who observe it. I just complete one of my favourite’s rituals as a Muslim – the Ramadhan (fasting month) and Syawal (celebration month). I fasted for a month from mid-July until mid-August then followed by a celebration until mid-September. What sort of activities involved during this period? At least in Malaysia it looks more or less like this. 🙂

At the beginning of fasting I would fast until the sunset. To break fast I need to buy food at PARAM (Pasar Ramadhan (Ramadhan Market)). Here at PARAM there will be rows of food stalls preparing food for break fast. I would hang around this place to get some foods and drinks. I would perform these activities almost of daily throughout fasting period – about one month. It becomes a ritual to many Muslims in Malaysia.

You probably have your own favourite rituals. Examples of rituals are many – at work, home and society. Rituals are not routines because the latter is boring, meaningless and non-transformative. By fasting, I developed strong sense of gratitude, appreciation and will power. In fact I realized many other spiritual traditions emphasize on fasting to develop inner self. In case you haven’t tried, you should try fasting and get a feel of it.

Now that fasting month is over, I am currently working on another ritual with myself. From my previous reading and listening to great performers from both corporate and life, waking up as early as 5 am is another great ritual. Why? Because we will quickly ‘earn’ 2 extra hours during the day and of course ‘lost’ 2 hours of sleep! Nonetheless to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “I’ll have ample time to sleep when I am dead!”.  Seriously, to become more effective, I need to find new ways in managing my time and type of activities that I do. It is very easy to get distracted!

Thus far I still didn’t manage to wake up at 5 am, the earliest was 530 am. The first thing happened on my first 530 morning was, “what should I do now”? While some advocate starting work early morning, I prefer to do work-out like exercise. I do light stretching and cardio exercise. In some other morning I do concentration exercise on my goals and self. I found early morning gives peace and serenity I need for me to do all these silent activities. I would need to create a schedule so my morning will have better direction – one thing you must know that our brain knows how to play tricks and exaggerate stuffs!

What would happen without rituals? Life will be just routines of things that you will soon find – meaningless and drifting away. It will fly away without much achievements or recognition. As an adult, while we have the power to choose (freedom), we usually choose not to do anything (free and boredom!). As we age, we need to create more rituals so our life is always active and with direction.

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Here are reasons why you should consider to have rituals.

The Power and Benefits of Rituals:

a)      Provide direction

> Rituals give you a sense of where you want to be. It forces your brain and body to achieve something that deep inside you know it’s good for you.

b)      Break away from old habits

> Rituals require high discipline and self awareness. If you want to break an old habits, find out how to create a powerful rituals.

c)       It gives meaning

> When certain activities become meaningful, there’s always another ounce of energy come from nowhere to drive it. Find meaning in your rituals, you’ll find your life meaningful.

d)      Creative and fun

> Some private rituals can be fun and funny. Just Google rituals of athletes and peak performers, you will see a whole list of them. But hey, it works!

e)      Give that leap

> Rituals usually will stretch you a bit, but for your own good. You will feel different as you’re going through your own rituals.

f)       Peace while perform

> You’ll be at ease because you are in control of your own life. As a result you will be at peace with yourself and your performance naturally improves.

Part of my rituals now is writing in my blog. Sometimes I find it difficult to write because I focus on originality of my piece. I am still trying to get the hang of it. Rituals supposed to give that consistent performance after it is fully embedded in your life. And part of the internalizing your new rituals is to force it and constantly reminding yourself to remember to repeat the meaning of that rituals. 😉

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

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