Leverage The Power of (Intentional) Rituals

    Human beings are a funny race (we are, stick with me).

    As kids we're playful, curious, constantly stretching and growing, have big dreams and almost always living in the present. Perhaps you can remember playing all day long as a kid and your only objective for the day was how much fun you could have, who was going to "on" in the next game of 'catch and chase' and if you could stay out late with your buddy Jimmy or Jenny and that was pretty much it.

    And then as we get older .. there seems to be some type of natural process for abandoning everything we did as kids that gave us so much enjoyment. Most of us were told "get serious, grow up, start thinking about the future …" and your awareness shifted from being very present oriented to thinking about the future. The natural curiosity for life dwindled and most people accept the status quo.

    Like the grasshopper who is trained by putting them in a jar with a lid on it so that every time they jump, they hit the lid, soon the trainer can take the lid off the jar but the grasshopper won't jump away. It doesn't realize that it could, if only it would spring like it once did and is still able.

    So as we take a step out, we have the situation that is rampant today

    • 92% of employees aren't passionate about their jobs and feel they don't regularly get to use their strengths (Gallup Group)
    • The busiest time for heart attacks on emergency wards is Monday morning before 9AM
    • Mental Health is expected to be the number 1 issue affecting the medical industry by 2020 according to the W.H.O
    • We have dramatic (14%) increase in the rates of Suicide amongst the youth who are now officially classed as the most "medicated" generation

    Of course this is only scratching the surface on the ailments widespread today and also excludes a lot of things. But it is fair to say that Henry David Thoreau's assessment, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," is still accurate. As NLPers we know that the "map is not the territory" and there is SO much more each of us could enjoy if we just 'opened our eyes and came back to our senses'. The question is how?

     So the first major realisiation if you want to live a higher quality of life is this: Realise that you are run by your habits, then take specific steps to change them!

    Dr. Richard Bandler and John Grinder, in the Structure of Magic 1 wrote "people block themselves from seeing those options and possibilities that are open to them since they are not available in their models of their world". Whether you're enlightened or a ignorant, we all block ourselves (often unknowingly) from experiencing a higher and better quality of life than is possible for us. 

    After decades of studying all manner of fields, I've come to the realization that there are really only a few, perhaps a handful of patterns that are having a MASSIVE impact on each of our lives. The patterns will be different for each of us, but everyone has their own unique set. But there are a set of, what we might call, global patterns that show up for each of us and typically dictate how we respond.

    These patterns are specific habitual ways of thinking, behaving and feeling that show up again and again in your life. And whether you would realise it or not are, to a lesser or greater effect, controlling the experience, quality and output of your life.

    Just like a gush of water running down a pipe, through conditioning it consistently takes the left path over the right. Robert Anton Wilson described it as "a strong set of .. beliefs appears to neuroscience, as an imprinted … learned network of bio-chemical REFLEXES in the cortex of the brain". When they fire off, they produce the same conditioned response (unless they receive a different stimulus).

    As NLPers this makes a lot of sense. A secret to doing great change work is to scramble/alter someone's strategy at the choice point (decision gate) before the behavior gets "fired off". But first you need to become aware that there is a "habit" going on. Aristotle said that "Excellence is not an act but a habit". And habits are nothing more than ritualized and usually 'other than conscious ways or responding.

    So the first major realisation if you want to live a higher quality of life is this: Realise that you are run by your habits, then take specific steps to change them!

    This doesn't mean you don't have conscious choice, rather what you are looking to do is put that muscle into action and intentionally establish the habits or RITUALS you are going to live by. Think of these as automatic programs you run, that truly serve you, and allow you to enjoy the most out of any given moment. It's a widely held belief that 99% of the thoughts, feelings and behaviors you experienced yesterday were the same as you did the day before that and the day before that. What you want to do is break out of the mold of same-old-same-old, and bring more conscious awareness and directed force into your life.

    TAKE ACTION CHALLENGE:

    • Identify the top three habits that show up like clock work in your life but aren't really consistent with who you want to be or the goals you have
    • Pick one habit that you wish to change. It may be that you want to exercise regularly, stop swearing, be more kind in your dialogue, regularly practice your NLP skills .. whatever you decide
    • Take some time to write out exactly, in details what your new ritual is going to be
    • Run through it to see if it produces the desired result
    • Make any adjustments to the ritual to make it exactly what you want
    • Put it into action everyday for 21 days
    • For those of you skilled enough, self record a closed eye trance induction and record it so that you mentally cycle yourself doing it fifty times. Listen to it at least twice every day for one week to get your brain 'hardcoded' to how you want your behavior to be. Ensure you use associate language in your induction.

    The secret to creating great rituals that work, is to plan it in detail on paper and ensure you are taking everything that you need into account. Naturally a sensory specific desired state is essential to making it work well.

    So if you want to exercise regularly it might mean getting a personal trainer or accountability partner who you pay whether or not you show up, setting out your gym equipment by your bed the night before, etc etc. Detail out the kind of 'real quality of life and success ritual' that you want. Remember what we are looking to do is change the, up until now, decision gate in your habitual ritualized response. Once you build the 'new muscle' it will then happen automatically and you won't need to spend any more time consciously doing what you want. It becomes the new 'status quo' of how your mind-body responds.

    For example if you are typically shy in a social situation, you may decide to change your attitude and make a conscious effort to speak to ten people every time you're out, and quickly you will find, that you find it much easier and natural to respond that way. The real trick then is to link that behavior to a positive feeling, where you enjoy it (if you're heavily towards motivated) and feel uneasy/not 'quite yourself' when you don't practice it. If you want to set it up so it happens even quicker, then link your new behavior to one of your highest values and really get to feel in your body, how important it is for you.

    So get into action and take the above challenge for 21 days and notice how different your life can be when you take the time to change just ONE habit and establish a new ritualized response. You choose the context, just make sure you put it into action and notice the impact it has for your life.

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