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The Importance of Rituals and Routines

The late Steve Jobs was a master of his routine. Every morning, for the last three decade of his life, he would wake up, stand in front of the mirror and ask himself “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

Why did he ask himself this question? Because it would keep him moving along a path in life that followed his truest desires.

But the bigger question is why did he ask himself this single question every day? Why not once a week, once or month or even just when significant changes altered his life’s path?

The reason Steve Jobs made this question a daily occurrence was because it programmed his mind to act automatically. This routine became something he would do naturally and in turn, it would provide great positive rewards.

Routines and Rituals Become Deeply Instilled Within Us

The more you do something, the more automatic it becomes. By establishing routines we can harness the power of positivity. Routines and rituals allow us to organise our lives so that we can stop spending excess energy seeking health and happiness – instead, health and happiness can come to us.

Humanitarian, athlete and author Turia Pitt begins every day with a gratitude practice. For her, this looks like switching on a playlist of songs that help her feel good. She calls to mind three things she is grateful for.

This process has helped Turia become successful. She successfully overcomes larger hurdles in life than most of us can even comprehend.

Performing an uplifting routine every day will settle itself in the subconscious. Once there, it will work behind the scene, laying down positive foundations in all your thoughts, feelings and action. Nurturing your subconscious with happiness will help you effortlessly steer your life towards greater things.

Routines and Rituals Eliminate Decisions

As Steve Jobs knew, routines and rituals allow you to prioritise your time to focus on things you are passionate about. But while making space for the positive aspects of life, routines also eliminate the negative aspects just as effectively.

Mental activity requires energy. What to wear, whether to take an umbrella on a cloudy day and what to cook for dinner are all smaller decisions that can add up to tax your daily limit of mental energy.

Too many decisions can be overwhelming and induce stress. This stress, especially when experienced on a daily basis, can go on to wreak havoc on our minds and bodies.

Biz Stone, successful author and co-founder of Twitter, finds ways to eliminate these energy zapping decisions in the simplest of ways. He structures his life around a layer of predictability.

Although Biz Stone does not have a uniform or dress code for work, he treats his wardrobe as if he does. He wears jeans, a black T-shirt and blue Converse shoes every day. Why?  “So there’s no need to spend time selecting an outfit.”

His time is precious, as is his mental energy. By setting up a routine that becomes natural to us, we can do things without too much stress, anxiety and lost energy.

Psychologist and mental health expert Dr Steve Orma agrees that scheduling routine times to perform certain tasks is an extremely effective way to reduce stress. From socialising, exercising and paying bills to relaxation and thinking time, Dr Steve Orma explains that by putting a task into your schedule it then “becomes your normal routine; it’s easier to accomplish everything because it becomes habit.”

Routines for Finding Meaning and Happiness

Mindful and health-boosting activities such a yoga, Pilates, meditation and creative tasks will give you the most benefit when they are part of a routine.

President of Yoga Australia Leigh Blashki feels successful, not only in his line of work but in his daily life. He has set up a routine that prioritises practices that keep him feeling connected within himself and experiencing positive vibes in his every day activities.

His day starts with a drink of warm water, yoga postures and breathing exercises, followed by seasonal fruit. He then meditates for 15 to 45 minutes.

Another highly successful person, Founder of the Huffington Post Arianna Huffington says, to find greater meaning in her life, every morning she will “take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day.”

Successful investor and entrepreneur Brad Feld describes how he and his wife help each other to seek greater happiness. He says “we do a ritual we call ‘four minutes in the morning,’ where we just sit with our coffee, talk a little, and watch the day open up and the birds sing.”

No matter if you are the CEO of a big corporation, a Buddhist monk, a ‘new’ yogi or a blue-collar worker; healthy routines and mindful rituals such as these can bring us greater meaning, happiness and help us to seek out the unique successes in life we are searching for.

Success Is Your Definition

No matter what yours looks like, humans enjoy and continue to seek greater health and happiness. This is why routines and rituals are so successful; because they make it easier to achieve these positive outcomes every day.

Psychologist Samantha Heintzelman supports the research that shows people who do the same routines every day find greater meaning in life. She states “The notion that meaning can be found in mundane habits and patterns is a bit surprising”.

Why so surprising? Because many people believe discovering greater meaning is only possible by making big changes and overhauling their life.

Healthy and happy people all over the world who have a simple daily routine or ritual show this is simply not true. It is the little daily occurrence that we can make a natural part of lives that make the biggest difference.

Routine, Ritual or Both?

A ritual is a routine that is executed with great mindfulness and therapeutic meaning. Health expert and physician Christiane Northrup explains that “both routines and rituals are necessary because they help us structure our lives.”

She explains simply “brewing a cup of tea at the same time every day and sitting down to enjoy it and reflect” turns a routine into a ritual. “When you put mindfulness to practice you are living in the moment and this helps to improve your health”.

This is why yoga, Pilates, meditation and mindful tasks can be so empowering as we move to a state of greater positivity and success. Finding routines that go deeper into the real essence of what life is all about will help you discover more about your own happiness every single day.

If success to you is to eliminate stress and pains and to discover a healthier body, clearer mind and positive meaning in life, then routines based on mindful rituals will get you there.