A lot of times as children and young adults, we roll our eyes when we have to follow certain family rituals; but as we move on to adulthood, parenthood and grandparenthood (if there is a word like that!), these moments are the ones that we remember most fondly.
I had read somewhere that ‘rituals are routines we give importance to” and I don’t think I could have said it better than this. Rituals, whether religious or not, are vital to family life.
We are living extremely fragmented lives unlike our ancestors and are constantly trying to keep up with the fast pace. These are the times when we might have 500 “friends” on Facebook but one-on-one communication between true friends and family members has fallen through the cracks. However, the very same technology has provided us plethora of ways to communicate effectively so that every member of a family can keep in touch via live video chat etc irrespective of the physical distance. The onus to find a fine balance is on us. As families what can we create that bonds us together and keeps the communication flowing? Mahatma Gandhi had said: “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” One needs to take a step back every day to slow down. And that’s where rituals come in, connecting us to the moment here and now. Having said that, it’s not about big, ornate cultural or religious rituals. These are simple actions that connect us to ourselves, our place, and the present moment. Something as simple as having lunch together with the family every Sunday afternoon without any distractions.
Our emotional needs keep changing too as we go through different phases of life. When we provide support, are empathetic without expecting reciprocity for the same and respect the people who are closest to us, we are naturally creating ‘deposits’ as Steven Covey calls it. He explained that since relationships continue to grow and change, and with these changes come new expectations, we are constantly creating an ‘Emotional Bank Account’, where we deposit some and withdraw some. The relationships need constant investment to balance the withdrawal (the arguments, the fights, negativity etc). Probably we can look at rituals as long term deposits that we make in our families and we can bank on, as we go through peaks and troughs.
Rituals are the little things we can do together which will help us bond with our loved ones and inculcate a sense of stability and continuity in our lives. It could be a day where family comes together for gratitude. Or just making it a habit to say a little prayer together before going to bed each night, having dinner together, a picnic every quarter, can be anything done consistently which builds positive emotional bank for the family.
It doesn’t have to be grand just something we do regularly, because these are the richest opportunities we have for telling family stories and these family experiences are master keys to making our families, our children and ourselves stronger and more resilient.
I recently came across this video which so resonates with what’s happening around us.
If we adopt rituals we won’t need the ‘peppermill’ as shown in the video. So what’s your peppermill?