“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.”

There is a fine line at present in these surreal times of keeping abreast of the current situation, monitoring our own risk and navigating lockdowns with a degree of happiness or normality. Being positive, talking of happier times, and our daily rituals and habits are very important.

A ritual is defined as “an internally motivated sequence of activity that is performed according to a set plan and repeated. ” Or “a usual manner of behaving or doing.” Rituals turn the ordinary into something meaningful. Rituals are setting up our own small changes to the day and doing things with a greater sense of mindfulness or precision to build extra value. According to Harvard Business School Professor Mike Norton, who has studied rituals and found.

Our rituals hold us, shape us, sustain us, and connect us.”

Evan Imber Black

Anthropologists say that people across cultures perform rituals more often in times of uncertainty and that ritual is an old and inseparable part of human nature that builds resilience.

We see in every culture — and throughout history — that people who perform rituals report feeling better,” 

Michael Norton

Rituals are different to routine or habits. We develop a routine from a series of habits that we do every day. Rituals on the other hand occur at special times and places. So many of the usual ways we meet and greet people are gone for the moment. Because we can’t handshake, hug, sing together, visit, dine together or party there are so few ways to mark life’s celebrations. The normal everyday transitions in life mark time and define the beginning and end of what we are doing. The situation has shown us that we need to prioritise what we value most in our lives; simplicity, happiness, health, family, friends and freedom. There are positive aspects to the long days at home.

In different cultures, new rituals have started, for example in Mallorca Spain, the local policemen sing and dance in the streets for people inside in lockdown and the new ritual of coming to the balcony on Formal Friday to applaud the healthcare workers. There are many stories of groups in virtual choirs and music events and other ways people have created new rituals to gain comfort and reassurance.

rituals are any actions or events that have symbolic meaning beyond their instrumental value

Robert Wuthnow- Sociologist

When have we ever had the chance to spend such valuable time together as families or couples? Even if we are alone we have all that extra time to take on new skills, give time to our hobbies or create new ones. Cherish the time with friends online talking or get that extra sleep, read, write a journal or book, study for a new skill, develop your inner creativity on Tik Tok, paint, draw or take on a new language. It is all in the mindset and important to have an optimistic approach.

Rituals don’t have to happen organically. You can invent one as a way to create that sense of control over yourself and your life you may have felt you’ve lost.

Make a tea and enjoy a chat on the phone with a friend on their lunch break, Take a tea into the garden or special spot for a quiet moment if possible. Perhaps sipping from that beautiful vintage teacup that rarely gets used when enjoying a green tea with lunch.

Whatever simple ways you can create rituals in your life they are well worth the effort to develop because any new ritual does not have to be elaborate or complicated, just a set of actions that have an intention. The behaviour isn’t random and can be repeated. For example, an online cheers with a glass of champagne at the end of the day with friends or family, a proper afternoon tea with friends online.

We have started a small ritual of an extended tea with breakfast in our house. Proper tea is made and served in a teapot and placed on a burner to stay hot. We use vintage breakfast cups rather than a quick cuppa we make ourselves in a mug with a teabag. It is only a small thing but makes the morning quite different; a bit old fashioned maybe and reminds me of times in the past when life was slower and traditions upheld especially in country towns and rural living.

“You are what you repeatedly do.”

Will Durant

Content Di Baker 2021

All images in this post are from Unsplash

Title quote by Chaim Potok