I recently bought myself a copy of Twyla Tharp's "The Creative Habit". It has been on my list of books to read for a while, so when I needed a few things to round out my amazon cart for free super saver shipping I decided this could be the right book to help me get past some of my current hurdles.
One of the first things Tharp discusses in her book is the ritual. The definition of the word "ritual" she uses comes from the Oxford English Dictionary: a prescribed order of performing religious or other devotional services. This definition moves our daily routine away from the mindset of drudgery, and into the realm of the sacred.
The ritual is not necessarily the act of "doing" what we set out to accomplish, but instead the first step (or couple of steps) we always take to mentally prepare. The simple act of making coffee, putting on your gym clothes, stepping out the door, cranking up your music before you start—these are the rituals Tharp is referring to. Everyone has rituals they perform daily, but how conscious are we of their almost spiritual importance to our goals?
If I change into my workout clothing, I am going to work-out. Stretch, pop the earbuds in, start walking. If I change into pajamas, I am going to rest. Watch TV, read a book, head off to bed. Countless little actions throughout the day causing chain reactions, signaling to the brain what comes next. Knowing this can change everything.
Last night was when I read this, it struck me as so simple and so profound. This morning when I sat down with my coffee and logged in to sparkpeople (one of my rituals), I saw this:
The advice to make being outside "a ritual" is, of course, the part that has stuck with me all day.
The weather has been so lovely lately that I have had no trouble spending time outside. By the time work is over I am usually dying to get out and take my walk. The time I am forced to be inside is the only problem at the moment. But when summer happens, I have a feeling that will change.