By Alice Calch
The things that we do to help ourselves only have ongoing positive effects if we make them into habits. Positive change is even more profound and more permanent when those habits become rituals.
But what's the difference between a habit and a ritual? A habit is something you do on a regular basis without the need to force yourself to do so. A ritual is something that you're compelled to do because it's meaningful to you, and you feel a deficit in your life when that ritual goes missing.
If you're seeking permanent overall life improvement and happiness, try these seven rituals for every day of the week.
1. They reward themselves with an hour of physical activity every day.
Yes, reward yourself. After all, what could possibly have a higher pay out than increased health and longevity? If that sounds a bit "rah-rah" for your tastes, that's OK.
Physical activity isn't fun for everybody, but if you commit to it, you'll begin to feel better. That feeling can lead to a habit, and that habit can become a ritual. Why should you commit to an hour? Because it sends a message to others and yourself that you're worth a solid sixty minutes of time.
2. They pick a new healthy eating habit each month, then implement it daily.
When it comes to eating habits, the worst thing is an epiphany. This is because most diet-related epiphanies aren't really epiphanies at all; they're simply temporary and dramatic reactions to moments of frustration about the way we look and feel. Ultimately, there are no epiphanies here.
As adults, we know what's good for us and what's bad for us to put into our bodies. So, instead of swearing off sugar altogether or becoming a vegan in one day, why not make a single commitment each month to adopting one healthy eating habit, and then acting on that commitment every single day?
3. They make a significant weekly commitment to personal education and enrichment.
If you aren't able to create a habit or ritual out of anything else, please work on this step. There's nothing you can do to improve your life than to focus on your own educational development.
Once upon a time, it was very common for corporations to allow employees four hours each week for personal education and development. Why not give yourself the gift of that time each week?
4. They consciously disconnect once a week.
You owe yourself and those who interact with you a commitment to spend time each week away from your phone, computer, tablet, and other devices. Believe it or not, your brain really does need a break from that kind of stimulation in order to stay sharp and focused.
5. They commit to a project.
Yes, you're busy. Yes, you get a lot done during the day. But you still need a project. It can be anything you wish, but it should be something that obligates yourself to work regularly.
The focus of your project should be your own enjoyment and development. If your project becomes a means by which you connect with a loved one, this is also a good thing. One final rule: you aren't allowed to beat yourself up over the progress that you're making. You can only criticize yourself for not dedicating the time that you should be.
6. They embrace a "one thing in/one thing" out mentality -- and then make it happen.
Clutter has such a horrible impact on productivity. We know that people have different approaches to organization, but the beauty of "one thing in, one thing out" is that it can work for anybody. The basic concept is that for every new thing that comes into your life, you send another thing away.
Could this concept be applied metaphysically? Sure it could, but for now spending a bit of time each week finding things to donate, pitch, or re-purpose is a great way to balance out what you've consumed. Eventually, some people find their ritual in the purging of goods. Others crave the process of donating items or making them into something new.
7. They write a day-to-day to-do list, as if they've already accomplished it.
There's nothing more important than what you tell yourself. Start with your to-do list. Phrases such as "need to," "want to," or "must do" give you permission to push things off as either being optional or something that can wait. On the other hand, phrases like "I can," "I have," and "I did" will promote a feeling of obligation to reach your goals.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.