Rituals saved my life. Now, before I start, don’t be scared by the word “ritual.” For some, it can conjure images of mystical arts, or sound a bit sinister. When I use the word “ritual,” I simply mean a kind of routine; and these routines are the only reason I can talk to all of you today.
If I were growing up today, I would be diagnosed with just about every learning disorder known to man. I had the second-highest IQ in my high school (the kid with the highest IQ is now a renowned neurosurgeon), yet I was at the bottom of my class in every subject. I flunked kindergarten—which I’m told is impossible, so I guess that’s impressive in its own way—and in both high school and college, I didn’t know until the day before graduation whether I would make it out. There was certainly a lot of grace poured onto me.
So how could I be so intelligent, yet do so poorly in academics? Well, simply because my mind worked differently from how the academic system is designed to teach. If I hadn’t taught myself to live by rituals and routines, I would have ended up failing at everything. Here are the ones that helped me the most.
Prayer makes up my list of the top ten rituals for success. Everything else starts at number eleven. If you’ve never seen it, rent Fiddler on the Roof sometime, because the best advice I can give you is to pray the way Tevya prayed: all the time, about everything. Start a prayer in the morning, end it while going to sleep. There’s no way I can exaggerate the power this has had in my life, and that it can have in yours. And I don’t just mean emotional relief: in his wonderful book, Reinventing Medicine, Larry Dossey, MD, discusses a study he performed which proved the powerful, physical benefits of prayer, even when the recipient is unaware of it. If you’re having negative thoughts and feelings about something, never let them go by, or they’ll be like weeds in your garden, growing more and more intrusive until they choke everything out. Instead, get into the ritual of turning those negative thoughts into a prayer. Even if what you’re thinking is just a string of curse words, pray them. I don’t believe God is offended by this type of honesty as much as he is by our separation from him.
About the only alternative health methods recommended by US government are fruits and veggies, and meditation. My first exposure to the subject came through Herbert Benson, MD, and his book, Timeless Healing—a very simple meditation with incredible, proven clinical benefits. A number of years ago, I released the Heart Screen Meditation, which I believe may be the most powerful in the world. I know that here in the west, there’s a tendency to see meditation as an eastern influence, not associated with real, “scientific” medicine. But as soon as you look at the evidence for a moment, you’ll find overwhelming proof of its effectiveness. But whichever you choose, I can’t recommend enough that you try this at least once or twice a day. It will be hard at first, for most people, but typically after about forty days, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.
This is something I have to reconfirm to myself every single day. If I don’t, all the circumstances and stresses of life will nudge it out of the way, and I’ll start to focus more on those stresses than on the people in my life. In fact, if you are stressed, angry, or really experiencing any negative emotion, that’s the first place to look. You’ve probably started prioritizing something other than relationships.
But what if the thing stressing you is a relationship? In a way, it’s actually a good thing. It shows that you’re prioritizing relationships, and that this one needs work. Now obviously, that doesn’t mean you should sit around, feeling loving all day. No, you go on your trip, make your calls, write your proposal, but constantly reminding yourself to put your relationships first, above every other priority in your life. This can be one of your greatest keys to success, and one of the greatest disasters if you get it wrong.
I would urge you to try all of these—maybe just one at a time. But don’t just do it for a few days, or a week. That’s not enough time for it to really become a ritual. In my experience, it takes forty days for a new habit to become ingrained. You should know by then whether it’s helping you or not; but I think it will. These rituals saved my life, but you don’t need to wait for your life to need saving. Start now, save yourself the trouble.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!