In Defense of Ritual

Hey Fledglings. Let’s talk about ‘busy,’ and why it’s not doing us any favors.

We all try to pretend that we can go full-throttle through life, reacting to whatever gets flung at us, and that this tactic is both sustainable and a path to real happiness. But how many of us are happy, and how many of us are just stressed out? Sure, we feel important and needed when we schedule every second of our day, but what’s all that ‘busy’ getting us, other than a stress headache?

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, I’m busy *now*, but eventually things are going to calm down. You know, when I’m more successful/make more money/replace my car/finish school/etc.”

Is that true, though? Think really hard about this. Is your compulsively-busy life in pursuit of a specific goal, after which you have a concrete plan to change your habits? I’m betting that, like so many before you, you’re more likely to be using your busy life as an excuse to not deal with some things. I know I’ve pretended to be ‘too important/needed/busy’ to face down my negative thoughts, bad relationships, or horrible finances before. Take my advice; that’s not a sustainable plan. Life catches up, whether you want it to or not.

If we have goals in life, doing everything we could ever do ever, is not the way to reach them – it’s a good way to wind up on blood pressure medication, but it is not a good way to reach your goals. To achieve the things we want to achieve in life, the main thing we need is FOCUS. Remember how we talked about SMART goals a while back? Well, taking on All The Things, whether or not they serve our goals, just because we want to feel needed, does not fall in line with the theory behind SMART goals.

So what’s a lady to do? How can we better achieve our life goals, actually feel happy right NOW, and become comfortable with looking at ourselves and our own thoughts?

This is where ritual comes in. I’m not talking about religion, although if that’s your thing, by all means make it happen. I’m talking about the kind of ritual we can build into our daily lives, the kind that gives us time to focus on our own thoughts and goals and how we can improve them. If you’re constantly on the run from one thing to the next thing, you don’t have time to do that. So, are you reaching your goals? How would you know? You haven’t sat down in a month and a half; where are you even at on your way to those goals?

This is why I love Korean skincare. Yeah, it makes my face look and feel amazing, but it also comprises about twenty minutes of each day where I do nothing but take care of myself. During that time, I can let my mind wander. I can ponder things that are stressing me out, or things I’d like to change. I can think about my goals and if I’m doing enough to reach them. Taking time to just think is absolutely crucial to being successful in life – if you slow down for a bit, you can choose your path more carefully, and the ritual of a full skincare routine forces you to slow down.

Embrace your thoughts, even the negative ones – they’re there for a reason. If something is not right in your world, you have an opportunity to change it, but only if you know what’s going on. Paying attention to how you think and feel for a few minutes each day, maybe while you moisturize, is a good way to acknowledge that things could be better for you, and then take steps toward making things better.

I try to relax in the bathtub for a while at least once a week. It’s where I can let my mind wander for a bit, relax my sore muscles, and just be silent. Yet again, this ritual is great for me feeling grounded and able to take on the rest of the week. I usually put on a sheet mask while I’m at it, because I might as well do it up right! Heck, just making time to blog today is helping me put my own goals into perspective. I need to do that sometimes, and you do too. So let’s build a little more ritual into our lives, so that we can use that time to focus ourselves and be more successful during the rest of the day.

Here are some suggestions for time you can take to be quiet and focus:

  • Morning and evening skin routine (get that sheet mask going, you literally can’t do anything for fifteen minutes)
  • Religious services, if that’s your jam
  • Yoga/meditation class
  • Working out
  • Bath or shower time
  • A meditation app, like Headspace

No, that last bit isn’t getting me any money; I just downloaded the app about a month ago, and it’s kind of changed my life. It’s a series of ten-minute mindfulness meditations to help you focus and be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It’s fantastic.

Ordering your day so that you can include a ritual or two can open up so many possibilities. It doesn’t have to take a ton of time – the things I suggested take between ten minutes and one hour – but adding in some you-time will help you reach your goals more directly. If you feel like you’re flailing around trying to reach your goals, or even trying to figure out what those goals are, try and put some more rituals into your daily routine. Get used to moving from one thing to the next as you get ready for bed, or when you come home at the end of the day. See how it feels to relax your mind a little and just be with your thoughts.

I’ve gotten some good results from this. I bet you will too.

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