It’s Monday, and you could not dread more the start of the week than you do right now, splayed out under the covers. Your alarm clock (read: smartphone) launches a wailing siren’s call commanding your complete consciousness.
How can you transform this fatigue- and dread-paralyzed version of yourself into a functioning, motivated, power-hungry office leader?
The oft-duplicated experience of rushed shower, throw-on clothing, walk the dog, exit stage left, enter work force seems like a grind. And you ask yourself: How can I escape this humdrum lifestyle?
Interestingly enough, the fact is simple: to most of the American workforce, the grind is the solution. Example: Americans drink about 1 cup of joe per capita per day. That cup most often happens in the morning, before work. Even to the salacious Starbucks sipper, this is more than just a routine – it’s something that helps transform us sleep-deprived humans into the hardworking people we aspire to be. That makes it a ritual, defined as ‘series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.’
Ritual behaviors have been used by humans since pre-history to anchor us in the present and hone our minds for the future. Since achieving higher intelligence, our desire to connect with the unseen or imaginary has guided many a leader to feast, fight, famine and freedom. Skeptics may point to religious curiosities such as the Crusades, or spiritual oddities like speaking in tongues, but there is much more to ritualism in our daily lives and our biology than meets the eye.
Why You Need a Ritual
Routine and habit are often regarded as the saboteurs of creativity – sapping your energy, tiring your mind with monotony. What makes a ritual different? A ritual has mental significance: it’s viewed as preparatory, and comforts us into feeling in control, as though the outcome is certain. It also serves a purpose to stabilize our brainwaves – removing stress and replacing with a calm focus.
Still feeling skeptical? Critical? Afraid of superstition? While the behavior may seem illogical, rituals are widely used in our modern days to ensure positive outcomes for those who are leaders in their fields.
Who Uses Rituals?
Nearly every professional athlete has some personal and team building rituals to help guarantee a positive outcome. MLB athletes often offer the most bizarre, wide, and commonplace superstitions – and it could be argued that playing nearly every day during the season and 162 games a year, MLB players need them. There is no game with more competitive statistical depth. For those of who do not spectate, we will just say this: the level of athleticism and perfection required in each game for a team to make it to the World Series is the sum of every teammate’s performance and skill.
Sports psychology research confirms that ritualistic behavior greatly improves the outcomes in pre-performance situations. These unique behaviors improve our attention, and hone our execution, evening out our emotions and improving our confidence. And there can be no denying the confidence-building effects of a successful outcome after a ritual: Michael Morse and his “Samurai Cobra Snake’ warm-up at the plate happens every time, including the game-tying home run that moved the Giants forward to win the 2014 NLCS.
You Don’t Have to Be an Athlete
Many experiments have been conducted on the results of emotional stability from ritualism. From executing wins to closing deals, to alleviating grief, ritual behaviors can help you defeat daily stress and get ahead in life.
For more information on rituals, visit Scientific American.com