Do you have any rituals? Bedtime? Work? Morning?
Life comes at us in waves, and we don’t often have the time or take the time to appreciate the details. One way to combat this passivity, this letting life happen to us, is to develop some rituals around the simplest day-to-day activities. My rituals may look nothing like whatever would turn you on, but I thought I’d share some of mine to give you an idea of what taking the time to smell the flowers can look like in your own life.
The Ritual: Morning coffee
Every morning I walk over to Press on Wayne Ave. to grab a coffee. I can make my own coffee at home (which would be a nice ritual in and of itself), but I make it a point to walk to Press, chat with the baristas, and take in the morning. My mornings sometimes start really early—like 6 AM early—so I’ll hit Press after my early clients.
What it does for me
I get to drink a world class cup of coffee, but more importantly, I’ve found connections at Press that I don’t know I could have found anywhere else. I ALWAYS have interesting conversations there with the owners, the people who work there, or the diverse range of former Ohio State football players, musicians, artists, moms, dads, and occasional misanthropes one is likely to find there. This ritual is especially important if I’m having a bad day or I’m feeling especially stressed about running my own business. Sure, I can brew my own coffee at home, but once a day, every day, you’ll find me at Press. The ridiculously good coffee is just the starting point. I’m really there for the community.
The Ritual: Sitting and Reflecting
Lately, I’ve been finishing my training sessions and heading over to work on a new personal training studio in the Oregon District. Friday evening I finished at 6:30 PM and worked straight through the weekend until about 9 PM on Sunday.
But you know what? I finished every one of those evenings by just sitting. Running one’s own business can be stressful, time-consuming, and frightening, and it’s easy to get lost in those less-than-fun emotions. (Lately, I think I’ve mostly been frightened). So every night, no matter how late, no matter how tired, no matter how ready for bed and no matter how bloodied my hands (cleaning agents + dry hands + cinderblock walls), I just sat. Admired our work. Thought of the future. Imagined how happy my clients will be to walk into the space.
What it does for me
A funny thing happened when I allowed myself that reflection, which could have seemed like a frivolous waste of time. I relaxed! You might not be opening up your own shop, but at the end of your work day you can take a few moments in your cubicle, your office, or in your truck to take in the weather/view/birds/sunset/trees. I’m not saying you’ll be able to turn a terrible day into a good one, but that taking the time to sit with what you’ve done can be a great way to lower the temperature and remind yourself that you’re okay. I know I need those reminders a lot.
The Ritual: Writing for Dayton Most Metro
Every Tuesday evening I sit down to write this column whether I have the time or not. (Lately I have not had the time). I go through the usual writer’s process of freaking out because I’m worried people will hate what I write, freaking out because I’m not sure I have anything useful to say, and freaking out because that’s what I like to do.
Then I just sit and let my mind wander to what I’ve been thinking about lately. What’s been on my mind? What questions have I been receiving online or from clients? What do I want people to know?
And then it happens. I just start typing. And in the end, I’ve been delivering these columns once a week without fail since I signed on.
What it does for me
Writing more than anything else is a discipline. Having this weekly deadline has forced me to be more mindful throughout my week about what I’m seeing, hearing, and feeling. I have to be aware of what the people around me are asking consistently because I know at some point I’m going to have to sit down in front of a blinking cursor.
Sometimes commitments can be soul-sucking regrets. But this Dayton Most Metro column has made me a better and more attentive coach because it has forced me to notice patterns, and the writing process itself has forced me to sharpen my own thinking around some complicated subjects.
Is there a project you can take on at work that would stretch you? A volunteer opportunity? Could you resolve to write a letter or an email to someone who’s been important to you at least once a week? The difference between an assignment and a ritual is mindset–and you’re totally in control of that.
The point of all of this stuff is to give yourself permission to notice the small, beautiful things that surround you every single day. We know the world is a cruel, hard place. And we’re here and often there’s nothing we can do about the cruelty or the hardness. But we do possess the power to take a moment every day to find what’s good in us and what surrounds us.