Day 14: Happiness is a Practice, Not a Destination


Through my consistent yoga practice and by writing this daily blog series I have personally experienced the power of ritual in my life.

We learn from both the wisdom traditions and the science of change that rituals can become habits. We are continually making habits. The aim is to make them consciously and wisely.

As we have learned through past posts we can change our brain through action. As one of my teachers used to say,"the brain is a habit making machine".  So rituals can literally transform our lives!

"First we make our habits, and then our habits make us" -- John Dryden

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate" -- Carl Jung

In their book "The Power of Full Engagement" Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr write: "Building rituals requires defining very precise behaviors and performing them at very specific times-motivated by deeply held values".

When you woke up this morning did you brush your teeth? Did you have to think about it and will yourself to do it?  Or did it come naturally now after years of practicing it everyday at the same time? This is a ritual that has become a habit; and a good one!

Various studies on the topic of self regulation or self control conducted by Roger Baumeister, considered one of the most important social psychologists alive, demonstrates our limitations in regard to this important resource.

Brushing your teeth took very little, if any, self control. However at one time in your life it most likely did. So now through your own experience you can see that a ritual practiced daily at precise times can become second nature.

This also works in reverse. If you want to exercise but don't take any action or create any rituals you may not do it; because if it is purely reliant on "self control" that may be lacking at times.

So build in a ritual and have faith that if you do it regularly it will become a habit or a way of life-just like brushing your teeth, getting to work, and so many other things we do automatically.

Create a ritual today and follow through for 21 days. Just do it! :)