Everyday we wake up and perform our rituals, many of which are quite satisfying. I rather enjoy sitting in my cozy chair, drinking my coffee while I gaze out the window at my garden. Even though I’ve heard standing on my head is healthy and brings blood flow to my brain, it’s not something I’d prefer to do first thing in the morning. That really wouldn’t help me to get a new spin on things…it would just make me dizzy.
Our rituals can be good for us, and they can be comforting, too . But an unyielding reliance on ritualistic behavior can be destructive—not only to ourselves, but to those around us as well.
When we become inflexible, it is as if we have become our own Groundhog Day—the same thing, day in and day out. And that sort of inflexibility in ritual and thought, in its most extreme can lead to cultish behavior.
There is some research in the area or neuroscience that shows that helping to create new ways of thinking may stave off dementia. This may or may not be true, but the most important part of these studies is how they may encourage otherwise inflexible people to expand their thinking. My ex-husband had a very difficult time being spontaneous. His breakfast was the same everyday. Even the placement of the dishes on the counter had to be placed in a certain way. If I suggested he try something other than cereal, juice and toast, he would start to twitch. His response would always be the same. “Well, I’ve never had that for breakfast”. My response was always the same too, “How can you have an opinion about something if you’ve never tried it”! The breakfast dynamic segued into every facet of our lives.
It is rather ironic that someone like me who loves spontaneity would be attracted to a man who so lacked it. But, I’ve given up trying to figure it out. However as you can guess, his lack of flexibility was one of the reasons the marriage ended.
There can be a biology that fosters the need to do things in a ritualistic manner like OCD. But a lot of individuals keep to a certain way of doing things out of habit. Habits are healthy like brushing your teeth everyday, making sure you’re on time for work, looking both ways before you cross a street. But, never trying anything outside your comfort zone can be deadly to your spirit and those around you. Try to recreate yourself on some level once in awhile. Even if you just brush your teeth with the opposite hand. Walk backwards occasionally, burst into song, have spaghetti for breakfast. Who knows you just might enjoy yourself. And I can guarantee you will survive the experience!