Happiness: How to Create Meaningful Rituals in Your Life

On my way to work last week, I saw this really amazing quote painted on a brick wall outside a store. It said:

“Happiness can be found in the smallest things. Our passion is to transform your daily routines into more meaningful rituals…”

This quote really sticks in my memory and is definitely the inspiration behind this post. I believe that in order to transform our daily routines into more meaningful rituals, they must keep us centered and help us move forward towards our ultimate destination; happiness. Establishing these meaningful rituals will become as comfortable as some of the older routines we replace, and the result will be a much more vibrant, fulfilling life.

Below are five guidelines that I’ve found particularly helpful in determining which rituals fit best in my life:

First – Be spontaneous – Get out and try new things!

I have to admit, this was the most uncomfortable, yet hopeful and enjoyable thing I had to learn to do. Getting out there and finding out what you like and don’t like is the only way you will find your true calling in life; your passion

I started by making lists of all the things I’ve ever wanted to try but haven’t had the guts to do – that was the easy part. When it came time to actually get out there and do the things on this list, that’s where my fear came in… For me, it was scary to get out there and do something completely new, by myself. I would beg my friends to join me, and when someone didn’t want to go with me, I would use that as an excuse not to go. After a while, I realized that the only thing this was doing was creating an internal space for my fears to fester and grow…

If you feel that trying a new activity alone is not for you (at first), try joining a group. Check Google for local group meetups or use sites like meetup.com that allow group meetings like this. This is also a great way to meet new people, learn something new and even spark inspiration!

Don’t be discouraged when you inevitably come across some activities that aren’t your cup of tea. That’s to be expected! You won’t like everything you try, and figuring out what you don’t like is just as useful as figuring out what you do like—this whole process is about getting to know yourself better. In Suzan Jeffers’ book Feel The Fear… And Do It Anyway, she wrote:

“The great researcher, who ‘failed’ two hundred times before finding the answer to one of his burning questions, was asked: ‘Doesn’t it bother you that you failed so many times?’ His answer was, ‘I’ve never succeeded! I’ve discovered two hundred ways not to do something.'”

In addition, you have just discovered another thing that is not for you. Good for you! Let the anticipation build and motivate you as you move closer to finding your true calling.

Second – set realistic, achievable goals in ALL areas of your life

Nothing is more discouraging than setting goals and not achieving them. It’s certainly good to have long-term goals, but in the meantime, it’s better for our confidence and our overall progress to be able to see and celebrate our successes’. This motivates us to continue.

One of the ways to be sure that your goals are realistic and achievable is to know yourself and be honest about what you realistically can and want to do. For example; when I first started meditating, it was completely new to me. Concept, practice – everything! My goal was to meditate every day for 20 minutes a day. REALITY: I couldn’t even meditate for 3 minutes without getting completely frustrated and giving up. After a week of going through this routine, I gave up completely. About a month later I had a thought; what if I set a goal to meditate three times a week for 3 minutes? THAT YES! I was able to successfully achieve that goal AND I felt GREAT! Now I can actually meditate for 20-30 minutes without getting frustrated and making fun of myself. All I had to do was take the pressure off myself.

How did I release the pressure? NOT comparing my progress to the progress of those around me. When I started this journey, I was lucky enough to have my best friend on board – my “growth buddy”. I am so grateful to have someone as kind, compassionate and non-judgmental as her on this journey with me. When I don’t see things clearly, she is there to pull me back and vice versa. It’s never a competition between us, but for some reason, I was constantly comparing my progress to hers. After talking to her about it, she made perfect sense saying; just because i have trouble meditating and she doesn’t, i get through other aspects of this journey with the ease she struggles with. We have to keep this in mind and stop comparing ourselves to other people because we are NOT a different person.

Something to remember when making your list of goals is to make sure you actually write them down and not just make a mental list. Along with writing them down, it is essential that you take the time to visualize how each goal will fit into your life and the steps you will need to take to achieve each goal. Visualizations are a component of success and transformation that cannot be ignored. It’s as simple as this (and I’m sure you’ve all heard of it) The Law of Attraction:

“Everything that comes into your life you attract into your life. And you attract it based on the images you hold in your mind. It is what you think about. Whatever happens in your mind, you attract. Every thought you have is real matter – force” – Secret

When making your target lists, try to shoot for balance. This is actually an entire chapter in Suzan Jeffers’ Feel the Fear…and Do It Anyway titled How Whole is Your “Whole Life”? In this chapter, she discusses the importance of creating a whole life network with nine separate focal points. Creating and maintaining balance is an important way to feel whole, fully connected, and continue to grow.

My 9 areas of focus include;

Contribution and volunteering

Hobbies and free time

Family

Friends

Relations

Career

Spiritual growth and personal development

Time for solitude and reflection

Health and exercise

What are yours? (This is a great starting point when developing your list of goals)

Third – Take the necessary time to think and sit quietly

Committing to taking time once a day to sit quietly and refocus is a vital part of living a balanced life and moving towards happiness. Getting in touch with your spirituality should be fun, not a chore. It’s something you should look forward to on a daily/weekly basis (whatever you choose). Try not to make these “mental exercises” redundant. Meditate for a day or two, then switch it up with yoga, tai chi, reiki, or whatever else you’d like to do on the other days (this is a great time to pull out your spontaneity list!)

Reading a good book that really resonates with me is also a great, quick way to focus and I always seem to read exactly what I need to hear at that moment. However, the key is to find a book that speaks to you and that you can identify with. If it’s not a book that can relate to your life, you won’t feel compelled to read it – and that’s really the whole point. I was listening to a podcast with Brene Brown over the weekend and she made a comment that explains why choosing stories that resonate with us is so important. She states:

“One of the ways we measure the accuracy of our theories is resonance. Do people see themselves in the lives and stories and narratives you create with your data?”

Personally, I found my favorite books to be The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie and The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Both are great choices because they have 365 daily readings that are no longer than two pages; they are short, easy to read and inspiring.

Taking time to journal is also very helpful when it comes to brainstorming (which was honestly one of the things I hated doing the most in the beginning). It was so out of my norm and I was embarrassed to actually write my feelings, and when I did, they were usually filtered out of fear that someone I knew would end up reading it. I could never allow myself to feel so open, honest and vulnerable (even with myself!)… I realized that this is a completely normal feeling; all you have to do is push through this fear, be understanding with yourself and get into the habit. Writing a few sentences about how you feel and how your day went is a great start! I bet you’ll soon love writing down your feelings, what you’ve dreamed about, or messages you may have received while meditating.

Fourth – letting go of perfectionism

“Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly, and act perfectly, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we carry around thinking it’s going to protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s actually keeping us from flying.” – Brene Brown; The gifts of imperfection

I was originally going to title this section Relinquishing Control, but after thinking about it, I had an AHA moment. Our need for control stems from our image of what we consider “perfect”. Many of us use perfection as a tool to measure how well we’re doing when, in reality, everything is relative! As Brene Brown discusses in The Gifts of Imperfection, perfection comes down to perception and what we perceive as perfect. What is perfect for you is not always perfect for me and vice versa.

When we create this image of perfection in our heads, with it comes expectations and a need for control – especially when it comes to the unknown. When we have everything mapped out, it’s scary to think about driving without a map in front of you. This is where faith comes in; we must have radical faith that whatever is meant to happen will happen and whatever the outcome is, it will fit nicely into the big picture. It’s about getting comfortable with the unknown (which is part of life) and learning to stop taking control of the wheel we fear; sometimes it’s nice and relaxing just to sit in the passenger seat. Put your foot up a little and simply enjoy the ride

Finally – make the process fun and a little easier!

If the process isn’t fun, you won’t want to continue with it. I’m sure you’ll read material from many different authors and sources – combine all these ideas and viewpoints to come up with a unique process that works for you. Remember that each author is only presenting his own truth; what works for them may not work for you, and that’s okay… You are a unique person; make your trip as unique and special as you are!

To make this process fun, learn to lighten up a little and laugh! This process doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s not even meant to be. If I looked back on some of my struggles and how I was, it would create pain and hostility; now I laugh at how I behaved and thought. I realize, now, that I was doing the best I could with the tools I was given. Then I practice gratitude and thank God for all the lessons he taught me at such a young age. I love when Jeffers writes in Feel the Fear… And Do It Anyway;

“Begin to think of yourself as a lifelong student at a great university. Your curriculum is your complete relationship to the world you live in, from the moment you are born to the moment you die. Every experience is a valuable lesson to be learned. If you chose Path A, you will learn one set of lessons. If you chose Path B, you will learn a different set of lessons. Geology or Geometry – just different teachers and different books to read, different homework to do, different exams to take. It really doesn’t matter… So – lighten up ! Whatever happens as a result of your decision, you will bear it!”

Imagine how much easier this process would be if we just lit ourselves up…

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