Food for Thought: Daily Rituals

Recently, I have found myself having a lot of conversations with UBites about creating rituals.  Morning rituals, food rituals, evening rituals...etc., I am a firm believer in the power of rituals and their ability to bring attention to goals and setting up your life to achieve them.  I came across this article by Sean Emery from Old City CrossFit I thought summarized the concept well.  Read it and answer for yourselves:  What rituals do you already have?  What rituals could you create to support your goals?


I recently finished reading an interesting book titled Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.  In writing this book Mason “wanted to show how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments.”

The book went on to detail the daily rituals, habits, and small increments of writers, composers, artists, thinkers, and various other creative types.  Many of the people profiled in the book are well known historical figures:  Mozart, Ben Franklin, Karl Marx, Louis Armstrong, and Ayn Rand to name a few.

Mason’s chose to document the daily rituals of creative types because they often spend years in creation of a final product.  Whether it be a novel, a manifesto, a play, a song, an invention, or any other host of creative endeavors, creative professionals rarely spend a day in solitude and emerge with a masterpiece.

I know most of us reading this CrossFit blog aren’t going to retire to our study to compose the next great symphony, but I think we’re all trying to make “small daily increments” in our lives in an attempt to accomplish something significant.

To me, daily rituals, are the methods we use to accomplish the larger goals we set for ourselves.  These goals don’t have to be writing the next great American novel or designing an apartment with shipping containers; your goals don’t even have to be anything creative! Perhaps your goal is to lose 30#?  Maybe it’s to do a handstand?  Deadlift 300#?  Run a sub 20 minute 5k, or do a pull up?  Regardless of the goal, paramount to accomplishing it is the recognition that it won’t happen overnight.  

Paramount to success is your daily ritual that will lead to that goal’s accomplishment.

Daily rituals don’t have to be as exact as Beethoven’s, who “insisted his morning coffee be made with exactly 60 beans.”  You don’t need to “dedicate every waking hour towards your goal, neglecting your job and living off handouts from your friends” like Karl Marx when writing Das Kapital.  You don’t have to “absolutely detest all openings and parties” like painter Joan Miro.

You can be more like F. Scott Fitzgerald with your daily rituals, who had “trouble sticking to a regular schedule” rising around 11 and “working off and on until 3 am.”

Maybe your routine, like Kingsley Amis, is hard to start:  “I linger over breakfast…staving off the dreadful time when I have to go to the typewriter.”

Regardless of what your daily rituals are, it’s important to understand what purpose they serve.  Twyla Tharp nailed it when she said:

“I being each day of my life with a ritual:  I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat.  I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street.  The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab.  The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.”

Mason points out: “By automatically getting up and getting into the cab every morning [Twyla] avoids the question of whether or not she feels like going to the gym; the ritual is one less thing for her to think about, as well as a friendly reminder that she’s doing the right thing.”

Like Twyla, make your daily ritual a process, perhaps even your daily reminder, of what you need to do to accomplish something great and meaningful in your life.

I don’t care what your goal is.  Like Joyce Carol Oates says, the process of obtaining your goal is going to feel like “pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.”  It’s time we get serious about our daily rituals.  It’s time we grab our preverbal peanut and  get dirty.

What are your goals?  What are your daily rituals to accomplish them?