The Power of Ritual
I was recently reading the book “Pessimism Sucks: How to live life differently and be a game changer” by Steve Babyar. This is a great little book with many powerful stories. You can get a copy of it on Amazon.
One of my favorite stories is about Dashrath Manjhi of India. Back in 1959 Dashrath’s wife suffered a life-threatening injury. They lived in a small impoverished village. The closest medical care facility was about 8 miles away. Which was difficult enough considering their means of transportation but their journey was complicated by a difficult to transverse hill range known as the Gehlour Hills. This steep and rocky range was directly between the village and the care facility, which made the journey without injuries very difficult, but with injuries almost impossible. The other option was a 43 mile trip around the Hills. Unfortunately, Dashrath’s wife died in their village from her injuries. That event set into motion a path that Dasrath choose to pursue for the next 22 years.
After his wife passed Dashrath made a decision. His decision was to carve a road through a narrow path in the Hills, thus allowing those who would need medical attention in the future an easier and quicker path. With nothing but a sledgehammer and a large chisel, Dashrath began his quest. Every day for the next 22 years was just about the same. His day would begin at 4AM where he would be digging and chiseling his road until 8 AM. From 8 AM until 1 PM he would work plowing fields so he could earn a living. Then from 1 PM until late in the evening he would go back to digging his road. What did you do today?
When he began his quest all of the villagers and even his own family thought he was crazy. But he kept up this ritual for 22 years. This is a great example of the power of ritual. I would say that more than anything it was Dashrath’s ritual that allowed him to complete his road 22 years later.
Ritual is an important part of human life. We are the product of our habits, which begin with mental habits and then translate into physical rituals. Strong positive rituals can help us on three levels:
They help us effectively manage our energy in the service of our mission or goal.
Rituals reduce your reliance on limited conscious will and discipline. Ensuring you take action.
Positive rituals allow you to bring into reality your values and priorities. What you value most becomes a part of your everyday life.