My Life Deteriorates If I Forget These 5 Daily Rituals

Everyone wants to have joy, peace, love, equanimity and experience authentic power in their lives, and I am certainly no exception. When we experience this state of being from within, our lives are enriched and we experience real happiness and an innate calmness. The world appears beautiful to us and we feel that we are powerful enough to achieve and overcome anything we choose to.

Over the years, I have noticed a clear correlation between the quality of my life and certain daily rituals. When I practice these daily activities diligently, my life seems replete with positivity, peace, joy and power. On the other hand, when I neglect these daily rituals, especially for a lengthy period of time, my life becomes stagnant and, at certain times, even deteriorates. I do not experience the same levels of joy, peace and power. I also begin to feel stressed, frustrated and pessimistic. It increases my tendency to make poor decisions and adversely affects my relationships with family and friends. My productivity at work suffers and my body feels out of sorts. I even have a difficult time falling asleep at night.

That is why I do my very best to not neglect these daily rituals, no matter what the circumstances. I know for a fact that when I do neglect these daily activities, the quality of my life suffers. I know this because I have tested my theory over the years and the results have always been conclusive. In fact, these 5 daily activities are extremely important to me and have changed my life dramatically. So what exactly are the daily rituals that I am talking about?

1. Meditation
Many years ago, I decided to learn to meditate and it is now part of my daily ritual. I sit in my favorite chair and focus on my breath for 10-20 minutes each morning. Before I begin my meditation session, I close my eyes and visualize certain aspects of my life for a few minutes. Then I begin meditating. When my restless mind wanders away from my breathing, I simply notice it and return my attention to my breath. I try to meditate at the same time each morning, and I like to make it one of the first things I do each day. I sometimes will also meditate for a few minutes throughout the day when the opportunity arises (while waiting in line at the bank or the doctor’s office, while stuck in traffic, while waiting in an airport, in between sets at the gym, etc).

What Happens When I Neglect This:
There have been many days when I have neglected to meditate in the morning and throughout the day. When that occurs, I become much less mindful and am much more prone to stress. My mind will dwell more on the past or worry about the future rather than focus on the present moment at hand. Because I am less mindful and present, I experience less joy, peace, and equanimity. I also tend to get upset at things that I ordinarily would not get upset at when I do meditate. My thoughts feel scattered and unfocused. Because of this, my mood is pessimistic and I am less productive at work. My relationships with family members and friends tend to suffer, too. I am less likely to make sound life and career decisions and am not in the zone (some people refer to this as ‘flow’) when it comes to creativity. Interestingly enough, when I fail to meditate, I am also more likely to neglect the other 4 daily rituals listed below.

2. Exercise
I like to exercise in the morning after I meditate. I do yoga at home for a few minutes each day (for those new to yoga, Google “sun salutation”). I also am a member of a gym that is located close to my home and I lift weights and then do some form of cardiovascular exercise for 20 minutes after. On average, I spend about 50-60 minutes in the gym each day, and I take a day off each week to let my body rest. If I cannot make it to the gym that day, I often will exercise at home (I have a spinning bike, some free weights, some resistance bands, and an exercise bench) and/or go for a run or brisk walk around my neighborhood.

What Happens When I Neglect This:
Like many, I have neglected to exercise regularly and it has some serious repercussions for me. I start to feel sluggish and lethargic. My mood is also affected and I do not feel as happy and calm as I usually do, probably because my body does not produce the endorphins that it does when I do exercise. I also tend to find it more difficult to fall asleep. My mind starts to feel more hazy and I do not think as clearly or solve problems as easily as I usually do. Naturally, as a result, I become less productive at work.

3. Gratitude
I practice gratitude at night before I go to sleep. Each evening, as I lay in bed, I think of 5 things that I am grateful for. I do not merely list 5 things in my head, I try to spend a few minutes reflecting on each one. For example, I might give thanks for a simple but delicious dinner; I close my eyes and I try to recall how wonderful the food smelled and tasted. Or I might think about the humble house that I live in and give thanks for having a secure dwelling I can enjoy each day. Or I might recall a phone chat I enjoyed with my mother that day and give thanks for her love and companionship. Some people prefer to keep a gratitude journal which they write in every day. My gratitude practice has become a nightly ritual which I almost never miss.

What Happens When I Neglect This:
When I forget to practice gratitude at night before I fall asleep like I usually do, I have noticed that it affects my psyche negatively. I am more likely to take things for granted and complain about aspects of my life that are not ideal (at least in my mind). I become more restless and find it harder to fall asleep. I also wake up feeling less refreshed and rested. I also experience less joy and peace. My glass tends to appear half empty rather than half full when I fail to practice gratitude.

4. Proper Nutrition
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is something I struggled with in the past until I got used to it. Every morning I will drink a big glass of water when I wake up, followed by a cup of green tea. I then will make a vegetable juice that most often consists of an apple (no seeds), celery, kale, and spinach (I use a Nutri Ninja and leave all the pulp in). Before I go to the gym, I will consume a protein shake (I use brown rice protein powder) and my daily vitamins (a multivitamin, vitamin D, and a fish oil capsule). Everything I consume up to this juncture is my breakfast. I also consume another protein shake after my gym session. Unlike for some people, my lunch, dinner and snacks are not set in stone because I like variety in my diet. I try to consume lots of vegetables and fruit along with lean proteins (fish, shellfish, eggs, chicken, turkey, etc) and unprocessed carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, etc). I also try to consume a purely vegetarian diet a couple of days each week. While I do not ban myself from fattier cuts of meat such as pork ribs or beef, I try to limit my intake. In fact, because I generally eat healthy foods throughout the week, I feel that I can afford to indulge in less healthy foods occasionally when I feel like it. This affords me the ability to be flexible with my diet and enjoy the proverbial ‘cheat day’ without guilt.

What Happens When I Neglect This:
The first thing I feel when I do not practice proper nutrition is a discomfort in my body. My stomach often feels uncomfortable, bloated and will sometimes even hurt. I also experience more lethargy and become less motivated. When I eat unhealthy food, I also tend to experience headaches (I almost never get headaches otherwise) and get dehydrated. I cannot pinpoint it exactly, but I can tell that my body feels unhealthy and toxic. It feels similar to drinking too much alcohol. I find it more difficult to focus and my mind feels muddled.

5. Sleeping Early, Getting Sufficient Sleep

One of the best feelings for me is going to bed early and waking up early. I am one of those people who needs 8 hours of sleep every night. I try to get to bed by 10pm (I am going to start aiming for 9pm on weekdays) and wake up at 8am, although I do not always succeed. I am an avid reader and read in bed almost every night until about 11pm, after which I spend a few minutes on my gratitude practice before falling asleep. I find that going to bed at about the same time every night makes it easier to fall asleep because my body-clock adjusts and gets used to it.

What Happens When I Neglect This:
Obviously, when I do not get enough sleep I tend to feel tired during the day. I also get grumpy and more prone to getting upset over trivial matters. I find it so much harder to be mindful and present. Because my mind and body are not adequately rested, any endeavor becomes more arduous. I am less likely to try new things and I get lazy. Simple problems and decisions become more taxing and difficult. My levels of creativity and productivity are also severely affected. My interaction with others becomes labored and less meaningful.

The interesting thing is that these 5 daily rituals all affect one another in some way. It is like a baby’s mobile that moves when any one of its parts move. They are all interconnected and have a substantial effect on each other. Naturally, if I follow 1 or 2 of these rituals, it is better than following none at all. But I have found that doing all 5 has a quantum effect, and the sum is greater than the individual parts. When I do all 5 activities diligently each day, the effect on my life is profound. Every aspect of my life gets better. Conversely, when I get lazy and I neglect them, my life starts to stagnate or deteriorate.

I can truly proclaim that the benefits of practicing these 5 daily rituals are worth the time and effort for me.

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