The Transformational Power of Daily Rituals

By Gonzalo Salinas

According to Charles Duhigg  author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, approximately 40% of what we do every day, we do unconsciously. We have formed a habit that we tend to repeat every day, and it’s making our choices for us.  

So, think about all the things  you do every day.  Some of them probably don’t serve your highest purpose but still, you repeat them religiously … even knowing specific behaviors are putting you away of the reality you want to live. Duhigg explains that every time you repeat those habits your brain reinforces them … so it craves, later on, this repetition. Even if is not beneficial, you get a neuro-chemical reward in your brain that not only will create some sort of addiction  but also reinforces the identity you have created for yourself.

I have tried many times to change bad habits and create new ones. With a sincere heart I must confess that I have failed more times than I have succeeded. But I noticed something happened every time I was succeeding; the positive new habits were daily rituals.

Yes. I do have rituals. Ritual – “a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.”  I repeat certain rituals every day, and believe me dear reader of the MKP Journal, to repeat an action every day, is not an easy task, especially when I am trying to create a new self.

Let me share some daily rituals hoping that this will inspire action to enhance lives.

I do my rituals first thing in the morning: I wake up and I go for a run. The running part is simple. I already told myself that as soon as I hear the alarm I must jump out of the bed. At the beginning it was hard, now is automatic. My recommendation is to avoid dealing with ANY logistics  – so your sportswear must be ready next to the bed from the previous night.

rising-sun

A second ritual is: I carry in my wallet one handwritten page. One side of the page is divided in two: on the left side I have a few statements: my flaws or weaknesses to become aware of what I want to change, and on the right side my good qualities and virtues to remind myself the tools I have for my own growth. Deliberately this second list is bigger than the first one.  On the other side of the paper I’ve written a brief composition about who I want to be. I’ve included goals and projects and a description of  how I see myself in the next three years.

I read this paper three times a day. As soon as I wake up, at lunch time, and before I go to sleep. It takes me two minutes each reading. When I read it I focus on staying present: just reading.

Third: In the morning I also do a brief visualization … right before I come back from running I stop and I visualize: It takes me three to five minutes. I visualize the same three goals I have written on the paper I carry on my wallet.

Finally, is my gratitude time. On a notebook I got specifically for gratitude, right before I go to sleep, I write three things that I’m grateful for that day. It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as “the kid I saw having some ice cream at Lincoln road in South Beach.” If I feel like writing it, I write it. Then I say a brief prayer, and I go to sleep.

These four rituals have changed my life dramatically in the last two years. Have I been 100% consistent with them?… absolutely not. I used to give to myself a guilt trip, this usually led me to abandon my regular practice for a while. If for some reason I miss my rituals now, instead of the self punishment, I just carry on.

That’s it. Just a couple of thing before I finish: You may notice that my rituals are very simple;  they are simple because when I create a complex plan, I find I’m planning to fail. Start small and keep going; it is a great exercise of self love.

And lastly, be creative with your rituals! Some people create a vision boards with images, others do mantras or incantations, others meditate or do breathing exercises. The rituals become habits because of  repetition, and the daily practice causes transformation.

I’ve got more from my 2 years of rituals than from my entire previous life without them. Use them and then you tell me!

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

– is a deeply personal issue that everyone decides for himself. Sometimes the price is high, sometimes low. But this is not very important for life. Life is an interesting thing. And the price on Viagra – too.

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