Whether it’s a family tradition, a wedding or a simple walk after work, a ritual is an effective tool rich in emotions that generates happiness, contemplation and serenity. The rituals often give us a sense of security and belonging. Several studies show that the rituals meet the requirements – innate in humans – structure and predictability. More rituals can help you restore order when you are in a transition or upheaval in your life by providing comfort and excitement. Consider the well-being and happiness these little things give you…
Some anthropologists have found that couples who share a family vacation experience greater satisfaction in their marriage. For children, rituals are a host of benefits. Sandra L. Hofferth, American sociologist, has shown that teenagers who eat with their parents at least five times a week are less prone to smoke, drink alcohol or drug use, while getting better grades. For younger children, repetition of the friendly family results in greater ease in language development.
Here are some tips to get the most from your existing rituals and to initiate others.
Set your goals
One advantage of the ritual is that it gives you an opportunity to reflect on what gives you satisfaction and what you lack in life. When you have identified your needs, whether you bring your children or simply relax after a day’s work, it prompts you to focus on your goal and achieve it. Soon, when the ritual is well established, you will begin to look forward to reliving and you will recognize the benefits it gives you.
Rituals must be unique without requiring sophisticated and complex preparations. The observance of the rule ensures the effectiveness of the ritual. Why complicate your life? Often, especially during special events, some people tend to seek perfection and want to reach out false targets, dictated by an outdated folklore. Make three dozen pies and tarts sugar during the holidays, for example, will not guarantee the success of these. Instead opt for activities and simple gestures, allowing you to get closer to your family or you feel a sense of well-being.
In most cases, rituals develop spontaneously – you discover that you better manage your flower boxes when you turn your deck into a yard, for example. When you try to create a new ritual, it may be that it seems to be forced, strange and not spontaneous. But if the ritual is really meaningless, keep this new movement becomes easy and essential to your well-being.
When a disruption occurs in your life, such as divorce, death, moving or changing jobs, it is possible that some of your rituals seem more difficult to preserve. By learning to modify or replace a ritual, a difficult time can be less stressful. The way you choose to adjust the ritual depends on the circumstances.
For example: after a death, you might want to keep some traditions that you used to share with the person you lost. It may be interesting to do a ritual that will say goodbye to the deceased and also to take possession of his spiritual heritage, to capture what that person has left for us and may be make a new ritual. For example, if you and your grandmother had one cooking session when you were in the kitchen before the holidays, you could preserve that tradition with cousins and aunts to cook her memorable fudge.
However, in the case of divorce, maintaining a family ritual is more delicate. If you do not have children, you can replace that ritual with something that symbolizes a new beginning. However, for children, a change in routine can be terribly disturbing. It may be that you are unable to maintain this ritual, perhaps you could then introduce a part of it in another gesture to recreate what was really enjoyable for the child.
It can also be quite appropriate to completely abandon a ritual to mark the end of a period, but not to maintain the illusion that the situation continues. In some cases, it will fill the void with a new ritual that will bring you much good-being. Try talking with your child. If you find a solution together, this means that a child takes note of the situation and adapts well.
Before abandoning a ritual
The action of perpetuating a ritual may seem on occasion as a chore. By cons, stay alert before abandoning one, because it may be that you underestimate its power over your emotional health. Perhaps the memories you retain, the sins of the rituals of your life will be among the most memorable.
How to recognize a ritual of a harmless gesture?
- It must cause intellectual satisfaction.
- It must cause emotional satisfaction.
- It must have marked a beginning and must have an end.
Hofferth, SL, & Sandberg, JF, “How American Children Spend Their Time,” Journal of Marriage and the Family (2001).