One of the best things about spending time at the lake or cottage with close friends is the great conversation had. And sometimes epiphanies are uncovered. I've had really rousing dialogue with some friends regarding our personal habits and how just one tiny difference can turn habits into luxurious treasured moments. This dissection of habits versus rituals is one of my favourite posts to date, and I'd love to hear what you think, too. Message me in the comments below!
HABIT VS RITUAL
It takes 21 days to form or break a habit, and sometimes the road there can be absolutely excruciating. In the morning before work, my hubby wakes up at 5AM in order to fit in a run. I cringe every time I hear his alarm clock go off. A) I hate running, and B) I can't imagine running before the sun has said hello. This habit is good for his body and mind, and overall health. But I promise you it would be impossible for me to follow suit.
But let's say I had to run in the morning (in reality, I really really really should). Is there a way I could get there - skipping ahead of the 21 days needed in order to actually stick with running? We need to shift our mindset regarding our habits. When we turn our habits into tiny rituals, they become treasured moments that we look forward to. In fact, if done properly - we can't wait for them!
I tried to think about my own life and whether I had any existing rituals or not. Were there any moments that I completely looked forward to because I had made them so special? My morning routine quickly sprang to mind. It is no secret that I love fancy coffees. I love luxurious creamers, adding warm herbs to my coffee grounds, (add a pinch of nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon to your fresh beans before you grind them - you're welcome!) and I could buy endless cute mugs, decanters or presses until I went broke. I love coming into my kitchen, still puffy-eyed from sleep, pouring the beans into my grinder, and smelling their warm fragrance as I hit the button to loudly crush them. I let the coffee steep and after a few minutes I press the grounds down in my beautiful Muuto coffee press. I even like pushing the cute little pine ball on top! Sometimes I swirl whip cream on top, and sometimes I add fresh vanilla. Before my baby wakes, I curl up and sip my coffee, reading one of my favourite magazines or books. It is my time and the only way my mornings are bearable. (I hate mornings; I am much more a night owl)
I also have a ritual to close my day. I love fancy baths. (Notice every ritual I have, I use the word "fancy" to describe it?) And I love a great full-bodied cabernet sauvignon. After my son goes to sleep and Derek has retreated to his man-cave to watch some bad television, I draw a hot hot hot bath, add my bubbles, wrap a hair mask or slather on a face mask, pour my red wine and look at Pinterest (or play my fashion game, Covet - whoops! Guilty pleasure!) for an hour. I sleep SO WELL when I do this - and when I don't? I'm actually restless at night. Once I'm fully pruned, I spray my bedtime pillow with a sleepy bedtime fragrance and lotion my body with a thick body butter.
These little moments are so special to me. They are my personal rituals. Now, this mindset can be applied to things we want to do for ourselves when we maybe don't have the stamina or willpower to turn them into habits. Let's say you really want to try your hand at meditating - a practice that definitely takes at least 21 days to get comfortable with... arguably longer. How could this be turned into a ritual? Is there a way to make this habit a cherished exercise?
Lighting a soothing smelling candle - that you only use for meditation - fluffing that special pillow, wearing your silk kimono (Maybe even naked underneath! Woo woo!), and playing a really relaxing record that lasts only 20 minutes (so you know your meditation time limit) would easily transform that practice into something you really look forward to. It would make it fancy. It can even become a bedtime ritual to help you dissolve your day away so you can have a more restful sleep. Take a warm shower before, being mindful to worship your body as you use a great smelling bar of soap.
The key to transforming habits into rituals is adopting luxury - fanci-ness - slow living and things that make you feel special. Things that make you feel good. If you have to get through a 5AM run, is there a way to reward yourself immediately after at 5:30 when you're back home? Is there a way you can make that run more enjoyable in the early stages before you become addicted to your morning workout? Maybe its a fancy app to track your progress. Maybe it's really expensive runners and yoga pants. Maybe it's a special lotion post-shower for your freshly worked muscles.
Find the way to make your habits rituals so you can blow past that 21 day window and make each day special, mindful and rewarding. Live slower. Live more mindfully. Take care of your Self.