‘Happier’ With Dave Flynn

‘Happier’

Routine Vs Ritual

The building blocks of Happier – is there a way to make it a habit?

Steve and I started The Happy Pear 20 years ago. We chose to include happy in the title as we wanted to pin our colours to the mast, we were interested in happiness, we were curious and wanted to explore some of the secrets of happiness. 

This is Dave, I love to write. I am committing to writing a weekly column on happiness. This is the first column of what I hope will be many more. Welcome aboard my dear friend, you are part of the evolution of my ponderings on happiness and what I hope will one day be a book. 

I plan to make this practical and a little thought provoking. I tend to be a very practical person so it will inevitably be peppered with concrete real world things to try and see how they work for you. I do believe there is some sort of recipe for ‘happier’ and this is my written journey of exploring it with you!

The Daily Grind: Routine or Ritual? 

Does the detail lie in one’s perspective? The phrase ‘daily grind’ conjures images of repetitive tasks and machine-like repetition that slowly suck one’s soul. It’s the type of routine that feels less like a rhythm and more like a rut. But what if we could shift our perspective? What if the daily grind could be transformed into a series of rituals that infuse our lives with joy and meaning? 

The difference between routine and ritual is subtle, yet profound. It’s not what we do but more how we do it. A routine is a set of daily habits we generally perform on autopilot. A ritual, on the other hand, is a routine that has been infused with a sprinkle of ceremony or sacredness and some aspect of mindfullness. While routines can feel like autopilot, rituals are performed with intention, turning ordinary tasks into moments of reflection, pleasure, or connection.

Transforming the mundane into Treasured Moments

Let’s take a hypothetical morning routine that could be like yours. It’s often a rush of showering, dressing, and maybe gulping down a quick breakfast. But with a pinch of creativity, these necessary tasks can become rituals that anchor your day with a different sort of spark. Imagine starting your day with your favourite music, letting the rhythms wake you up as you shower and dress. Or picture transforming your breakfast into a moment of tranquillity, as if you were on holidays, savouring each bite and taking time to ponder the multitude of possible delights ahead in your day while you drink your morning coffee!

Even the daily commute, often associated with peak stress, can become a ritual in itself imbued with presence and openness. You could listen to an inspiring podcast or audiobook, I have lots of podcasts saved for commutes that help inspire me and take my mind to interesting places (The Happy Pear podcast is fab if you are looking for a recommendation!). If you’re on public transport, you could journal or plan your day or just look around and find something new to appreciate about your journey — maybe the quiet determination in your fellow commuters’ faces! Or the changing seasons outside your window.

The Power of Presence

In today’s world, where so many things are crying out for our attention, transforming routine, the mundane into more of a ritual requires one key ingredient: our presence. By being present, even the simple act of brewing a cup of tea or opening a door becomes an opportunity to reconnect. 

To give you an example, one of my many opportunities is to reframe the task of feeding our cats twice daily from being a routine associated with drudgery into a meaningful ritual. In the flurry of the morning and the bustle of evening dinner time—when I’m usually juggling multiple tasks and the cats are literally trying to trip me up to get their food – I often find myself feeling frustrated and resistant. However, I’ve set a goal to see if I can infuse this daily task with a sense of ritual. I understand that to transform my approach to feeding our cats, I need to cultivate presence in this moment. It’s essential to catch myself before falling into the habitual mental script filled with resistance—an autopilot dialogue that serves no purpose other than to create pain. Today, I proactively chose to feed them first, interrupting the usual pattern before it could take hold, and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. This small change made a significant difference, making the experience much smoother for both me and the cats as Im sure they could pick up on my previous frustrations!!!

I’m sure you have similar tasks in your day whether it be doing the dishes or the bins or laundry, the great thing about this is that most of us have multiple opportunities to reframe many talks from drudge routine into a ritual imbuing life and presence into your day!!

Wishing you a happier week 

Dave

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