#41 Practice a Ritual

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#41

Practice a Ritual

Sometimes, practicing a ritual can be an extremely healthy way to manage anxiety or stress. By definition, a ritual is “a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a sequestered place, and performed according to a set sequence”. For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to expand the idea of ritual a bit and allow for it to be something we do the same way each time with intention and purpose.

Focus & Intention

A Catholic Mass falls into the category of a ritual and while unless you are a priest, you won’t be in the act of practicing the mass itself… you may find that attending mass and engaging in the mass ritual offers the same benefit. Going to the gym at the same time everyday and moving through the equipment in the same way with the same motivational music in our earbuds – is a ritual as long as there focus and intention with the movements. Rituals differ from routines with that focus and intention.

Conscious Energy

A ritual allows us to engage in an action consciously. Whether we are holding our hand over our heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or kneeling in prayer at bedtime, they often signify meaning. Many brotherhoods, fraternities, and sororities practice rituals as a way of bringing their membership together; strengthening the sense of belonging. Some families have the ritual of a family dinner on Sundays or in our house… it’s Mimosa’s and Monkey Bread on Christmas morning. They can be those things that unite and remind us of what’s good. Mr. Fred Rogers share his ritual of putting on slippers and changing into a cardigan as a way of getting comfortable each day; allowing us to feel as though we were at home with him.

Energy & Pleasure

Engaging in a regular ritual may energize you and create space for happy feelings. The demand focus and intention which, allows you to immerse yourself in your life. Routines that are mundane can be elevated to ritual status by engaging in them differently. Being deliberately present in those things that take little thought and experiencing them completely – change them from an unconscious pattern of movement to something that serves a positive function and something from which you may experience great pleasure.

Get Started

If you don’t yet have one, think of an action that is meaningful, intentional, and can be achieved on a regular basis. Perhaps it’s sitting down with a journal every evening or meditation before you get out of bed in the morning. It could even be a Friday evening happy hour or date night with someone special. Self-care rituals may be the perfect starting point for those of you with busy lives and never enough time. A ritual can reduce anxiety by providing a period of certainty in your day or week.

No matter the details, your life can be enriched greatly with the simple act of …

Practicing a ritual.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#85 Investigate New Restaurants

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#85

Investigate New Restaurants

For years, our Friday Night Date Night was routine. We took off a little early and then headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant for margaritas and dinner. It was so much of a routine that when the bartender saw us sit down she automatically ordered our appetizers and placed the margaritas in front of us. People nearby would often ask one of us if we had ‘ordered ahead’. While that routine was kind of nice and predictable it prevented us from discovering new restaurants. Since Harlan’s death, I’ve made an effort to discover new Friday night jaunts.

Recommendations

One of the first places I turned to were friends and family. I wanted to know what their favorite eatery was and why. I started my list. It’s always nice to have a personal recommendation when visiting someplace – especially by someone who knows you and is considerate of your time and budget. Most people are candid if they believe you won’t enjoy a certain experience.

Yelp

This is a great ‘recommendation’ app for smartphones. Generally, you can access the menu there and see photographs that have been taken by other people who’ve eaten there. Of course you can read their ‘reviews’ and determine if it’s a place you want to try. I’ve found that its necessary to read through a number of review in order to get a balanced perspective. Sometimes, people are having a bad day and leave solid derogatory review for a small infraction.

OpenTable

This is another smartphone app that is mostly for reservations; you won’t find every restaurant here but those who are will typically leave a table or two specifically for people who request tables through the app. Case in point: on a beautiful spring day in Baltimore, we strolled along the waterfront and decided to have lunch at a waterfront restaurant. When we approached the maitre d’, he told us it would be a 90 minute wait. We knew we didn’t want to wait that long so we found a bench and I checked Open Table to see what was available in our location. That very restaurant had a table for 4 available in 15 minutes. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch overlooking the Baltimore harbor that day and I spent just a few minutes being just a little smug about the work-around.

Dinner Club

If you really need inspiration, start a dinner club with a couple of friends or family members. Plan to meet once a month at a different restaurant each time. There’s a certain sense of adventure that you’ll experience in doing so and even if there’s a less-than-great meal now and then – you’ll at least have had fun with people you care about.

Be brave, trash the routine, and give your taste buds an adventure by…

Investigating new restaurants.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#93 Change Your Routine

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#93

Change Your Routine

Many of us work diligently to settle into a routine that offers comfort, stability, and predictability. Routines offer a sense of safety that is critical to the well-being of some people yet it can also be the crux of a rut. Especially when this is the case – it is necessary to change things up a bit and shift or redesign  your routine.

Break a Rut

After a while of doing the same thing day after day, life can feel monotonous. We begin to engage in daily tasks without much thought – allowing us to step out of the present moment and stop living in awareness. Changing our routine can break up that rut.

Memory

Changing your routine is a great way to exercise memory, an important activity as we age. When we challenge our mind to think – to be in the present and aware of what is happening – we are firing neurons that are necessary for memory function. It’s like greasing the gears.

Learning

Changing routines – discovering new ways to do things – helps us learn. It may be that there’s an easier and more efficient way to do something since that last time that we set the ball in motion. Learning new things – staying current and relevant – helps us remain connected to modern day to day activity; it can help us feel younger.

Details

Changing your routine doesn’t mean getting up at a different hour or taking a different train to work necessarily. It can mean eating with your left hand instead of your right. It can mean eating at a different hour. It can mean working out after work instead of before. Change doesn’t have to be a big inconvenience, it can be simple and subtle yet still make a difference.

If you’re in a rut, want to work your memory, or concerned that you’re getting left behind, an easy way to address any of those issues is to …

Change your routine.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#131 Sleep on the Other Side of the Bed

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#131

Sleep on the other side of the bed

I will occasionally recommend this suggestion to clients who have difficult sleeping and/or couples who are attempting to inject new energy into their relationship. It is sometimes met with resistance and declarations that they won’t be able to sleep yet, when they report back in, I often hear how making that shift was a new and interesting experience.

Habit

We are creatures of habit and without realizing it, we tend to slip into comfortable routines that create the potential for chunks of monotony to set in. The side of the bed we choose is one of those ‘chunks’. It’s necessary to notice comfortable, unconscious patterns and challenge them from time to time; to force a ‘shift’; to shake things up! In doing so, we are organically more present; more conscious of our being; and more aware of our power.

Just Try It

In 2015, a survey concluded that people would rather give up the TV remote than to change the side of the bed they sleep on so if you share the bed with someone, this suggestion will need to be a team effort. Consider sharing this post with your partner and make the suggestion. It doesn’t have to be a permanent change, or even a long term one. It can be for a night, a weekend, or however much time you may need to experience an awareness of the difference.

Potential Benefits

Changing bed sides may be good for your mattress assuming that different body sizes and shapes are on the new side – mattresses tend to conform to our bodies over time and changing it up will work to smooth out the ingrained shape. You may also find that sleeping is easier on one side versus the other; perhaps you will change the side you sleep on – shifting the pressure points to which your body is expose. You may find more romance by shifting sides… it could feel like you’re in bed with a different partner – playing into fantasy or simply refreshing a staleness in your relationship. You may snore less, be warmer, cooler, or be on the side with less light.

At the very least, you’ll be challenging your brain and the way it remembers – an activity that is all over healthy for your memory and it reminds your psyche who is running the show! Maybe start on a Friday night so that you’ll have the weekend if it totally ruins your sleep pattern. Generally though, people consider it an interesting experiment when they…

Sleep on the other side of the bed.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.