FUN rituals

Why rituals?

Researchers have found that rituals have a positive effect regardless of whether the participants hold preconceived notions about ritualistic behavior. One researcher said, "We thought that people who habitually use rituals might get a benefit. But the results show that regardless of your belief, if we induce you to perform rituals, you feel better."

“Recent research suggests that rituals may be more rational than they appear. Why? Because even simple rituals can be extremely effective. Rituals performed after experiencing losses – from loved ones to lotteries – do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like singing in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence. What’s more, rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work.” (Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton, 5/14/2013)

And what leads you to benefit and feel better? It’s in your brain.

Feel Good Brain Chemicals

First of all, there are the endorphins, the name is a contraction of “endogenous morphine like substances” – who woulda thought? Endorphins are substances that act on the nervous system and are generated in the human brain in response to pain, stress or certain kinds of heightened experiences. It may be that they are also generated in response to a belief.

Another brain chemical is serotonin, and believe it or not, serotonin can be boosted simply by feeling gratitude and appreciation, just like Prozac does. And then there’s dopamine. Feeling gratitude/appreciation boosts dopamine, not much different than the drug Wellbutrin.

Added Benefits

You might be asking, what does this have to do with rituals anyway? Well, rituals help us feel better; some of them ground us; some of them make us laugh … And one of the things that helps us feel better is feeling gratitude and appreciation. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life and this simple act increases serotonin in your brain.

In addition, rituals can be a powerful way to acknowledge and release negative feelings caused by a personal setback, failure or disappointment as a study indicated. A ritual can also help you to cope with the grief of a death or the loss of a relationship. In this case a ritual can move you up the emotional scale.

With all this in mind, we provide you with rituals to perform. Some might seem ludicrous and childish, but remember, it is about feeling better than you did before.

Rituals adapted from Alena Golovina,