42 to 35: Ritual

My whole life, I never understood why people made their beds.

For me, it turned out to be a key component of living the healthy life I envisioned.

This UT Austin commencement address helped get me thinking about morning ritual again.

Ritual is a powerful tool in shaping your behavior. I think of ritual like a rudder of a ship — its effects may not be dramatic or immediate, but the consistent application of small force is often the only way to accomplish significant course correction.

When I set out on this journey, I was expecting to spend a lot of time learning about “surface health”… which foods are good for reducing inflammation, which exercises will strengthen my back, which meditations will increase the sharpness of my cognition?

As with most worth journeys, I soon found myself in Act II, and it looked nothing like I imagined adventure would look like. The daemons here were the monsters I had always told myself didn’t really exist, at least not in my closet.

Addiction.

Loneliness.

Depression.

Sure, everyone suffers from these. But surely, I have things mostly under control. I drink less than my friends. I have LOTS of friends! And my life is amazing, I have everything, good job, good health, good family…

Spoiler alert: doesn’t matter. Mental health is far from that simple, and much like physical health, if you are waiting until you have debilitating symptoms before seeing a doctor, or, even better, taking ownership over your own health… you are not performing at your best, and by the time you start working on things, you may be too late to find the full healing you seek.

Anyway, I stray, but I have a lot to cover and Ritual is a cornerstone of the solution to these problems. So I’m glad I’m starting here. Ritual deserves more focus than I’m going to be able to give it this morning because I only have seven minutes left and I detoured a bit to talk about the backstory but… short story is, actively shaping my mental state has become one of the keys to growth for me this year, and Ritual is one of the words that comes up over and over as I strive to do that.

So, what is my morning ritual these days?

700 — Wake, meditate

720 — Butter Coffee, supplements,

740 — Calisthenics

800 — Daily Journal

830 — Shower (cold? going to try starting today)/ Groom / Dress

900 — Clean (make bed), pack

920 — Most Important Work

Most Important Work is at least 2 hours focus on the most important work of the day. A lot of days that’s my job, and will take up the next 8+ hours, but even on days off I want to be really conscious about how I use this time.

I’m not going to be ultra strict with timing on these things… a lot can be shortened, or even lengthened. The fact is, these are (not merely coincidentally) mostly tasks that I enjoy once I’ve started them, but have a hard time remembering to do on a regular basis.

Ok, time’s up. Really grateful to have this moment captured, the morning sun is beaming down on me, my typical 830 backup alarm is going off and I’ve already meditated, stretched, and written my post for the day. Off to try my first fully cold shower… I’ve done blasts of cold at the end of my shower for the last few weeks and it’s very hard for me, so we’ll see how it goes.

I’ll let you know tomorrow.