Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
To quote Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Can we train our brains to be vehicles for success? Sure. It just takes the proper alchemy of discipline and intention.
Here at the MyDomaine offices, we’re consistently tapping our favorite tastemakers and professionals to find out the and they rely on most for everyday success. By establishing a standard, selecting an action that lives into that standard, and repeating the action over and over until it becomes routine, you can establish a momentum toward consistent positive results. Routines are powerful and invaluable tools for mental growth.
When you’re ready to take your routine to the next level, we’ve got your next move. Cue the ritual. Steeped in consciousness, devotion, and belief, a ritual brings ceremony and honor to your daily practices. We asked and Reiki master (and my sister) Jenni Finley to coach us through some practical, easy-to-execute steps toward setting up new rituals. Read on for a crash course in keep your habits in the best of health. Practice makes perfect.
There are many ways to differentiate between behaviors that might be classified as ritual or routine. The distinctions are subtle yet profound. For the purposes of our argument, we’ll define a routine as any rote action performed with the intention of producing a result. Habits are formed by routinely repeating a behavior until the brain comes to recognize it as regular. Effectively evaluating which habits consistently produce success will hone your ability to manifest consistent results. Routines are valuable; rituals, on the other hand, are sacred.
A ritual is any action performed with the intention of fueling a belief. “A ritual would be a habit that has meaning behind it. Smoking is a habit. It’s not a rain dance,” says Finley. “It’s almost as though habits are creating effective autopilots for life. You want to be aware of what you’re training your brain to do. A ritual is always conscious. Habits can develop simply out of repetition.”
When it comes to approaching behavior as ritual, belief is everything. Routines by nature are unimaginative, regular, habitual occurrences. Rituals are marked with ceremony, focus, and deliberate intent. By definition, a ritual calls for a particular level of devotion to be present through the entirety of the process. “Ask yourself: What do I want to honor, pay tribute to, or attract?” says Finley. “Associating a physical action or routine with producing a specific outcome is an effective way to ground a belief, giving it power and accessibility in the real world.”
“The cool thing about rituals is you have complete freedom to make them up,” she continues. “Athletes do this all the time. A player might have a certain sequence of actions they go through before a game that is attached to the belief it will improve performance. You’re leaning into the belief that everything has an impact.” The ritual can be simple. The only requirement is that it have specific meaning and intention. Mental reverence and concentration bring honor to any practice, be it a daily run or your morning meditation.
Creating change can be challenging. Oftentimes the idea of bringing about a new outcome might feel daunting or overwhelming.
Establishing a routine is all bout getting the brain on autopilot. Set yourself up for success. Focus on a belief or state of being you’re intent on bringing forth (let’s stay lowering stress). Be realistic with what it’s going to take to get you there. Not a morning person? Let yourself off the hook. Set a time in the afternoon where you have a regular daily interval of time to meditate.
Consistency is key. Choose a time each day, week, etc. where you’ll be motivated and likely to honor your commitment. Be strategic with your patterns so they drive forward the results you‘re looking to achieve.
You want to relate to your rituals as sacred. That means protecting their integrity and guarding your calendar. If your morning run is your mental sanctuary, treat it as such.
“Treat your rituals as holy ground,” says Finley. “If they fail to be sacred, you need a new ritual.” Only perform your ritual with a clear intention when you can be fully present. They should have a clear structure. “You should open the ritual, perform the ritual, and close the ritual,” says Finley. “Closing the ritual is important. Think of it as a safe that you would never simply leave ajar. You open the safe, you put what is sacred inside, and then you close the safe and continue on with your day,” she adds.
Choose clear, specific actions that can be repeated every time. If you can’t remember the full ritual, it might be too complex. Keep it simple, and stay present. “If the ritual turns into just going through the motions, it fails to be effective,” says Finley.
Constantly re-evaluate if your habits and rituals are producing effective results. Are they serving your long-term goals and higher interests?
Everyone has had an experience of listening to a song over and over. Over time, the song might not generate the same feeling it once did. Rituals and routines can be the same way.
“Watch for your rituals becoming habits,” says Finley. “If you feel like you have to do it, it’s no longer sacred. The ceremony should feel deliberate never compulsive, sacred not regular.”
Discipline is keeping your eye on the prize, remembering your end goals. By tuning into the beliefs and results you want to consciously bring about, your actions become intentional and transformative. We invite you to set some new positive goals this month. Start with powerful beliefs you wish to cultivate, and begin to select thoughtful routines to anchor them in your daily life.
Shop a few ritual accessories below, and fill us in on what intentions you’re setting for the week.