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Rachel Baum

A love note to rituals

Published about 1 year ago • 3 min read

Every morning I make coffee in my manual drip pot. I grind the beans, boil the water, put in the paper filter, scoop the ground coffee, and pour hot water over the top. When it’s done, the elixir goes into a thermos to stay hot.

I could have an electric coffeemaker that would have the coffee ready when I wake up. I understand the appeal, but it’s not for me. I love my coffee-making ritual.

I love each of the steps and then, when they’re all done, I love the reward.

It’s a habit, but more than that – it’s a ritual. A gift I give myself.

I don’t feel this way about brushing my teeth even though that also starts my day and has steps.

The difference?

How I think about the result. I adore my coffee but I’m glad for dental health.

Coffee evokes feelings of warmth, nurture, pleasure.

Dental health? Not so much. That's more obligation and responsibility.

There’s been so much written about habits lately – how to build lifelong good habits by starting small. And I get it. Most of us want to eat better, move our bodies more, drink more water, feel gratitude, and so on.

I love the idea that we can build a new version of ourselves, brick by brick, tiny new habit by tiny new habit.

But sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes the energy of “habit” feels uninspiring. More duty and responsibility than pleasure and nurture.

The idea of a habit is, of course, to make things automatic.

But the things I enjoy most in my life are intentional. Cherished.

So this week, I’m replacing one habit with a ritual.

The difference is only in my mind – how I think about it. How I connect with the result.

I’m turning my water drinking into a ritual.

I track my water with an app that reminds me to drink water. It helps but it hasn't shifted how I think about getting my 8 - 12 cups a day. It feels good and necessary but not a pleasure. Not yet a gift I give myself.

So I'm turning my water into a ritual.

Connecting with the magical elixir of water.

It doesn't require any change, except what I'm thinking when I drink it.

Instead of Another cup down, I'm focusing on how miraculous clean, drinkable water truly is. Who knew that something that tastes like nothing could actually be so good?

I love my water ritual.

And I love how adding more rituals to my life changes my relationship to myself and to my days. Habits are necessary, but rituals are a gift we give ourselves.

This week, consider how turning one habit into a ritual might change your relationship to it. If you keep a gratitude journal, what changes when you consider it a gratitude ritual? If you want to exercise daily, what shifts when you consider it a movement ritual? You may still want to keep some habits as habits (I’m looking at you, toothbrush!) but elevating even one habit to the status of ritual can welcome in a greater sense of pleasure.


Doing the same thing over and over can be a source of pleasure or a source of pain, depending on how we think about it. All of life is a lot like this, as I explore in this week's podcast episode.

Episode #48: Being human takes practice

Ep #48


This episode is for you if you're human.

I share a way to increase self-compassion, recover from setbacks more quickly, all while intentionally inviting self-growth.

All it takes is a small shift in your thinking.

In this episode, I talk about what it means to practice and explain how practicing getting older shifts our experience of being human.

In this episode:

🌟 How we get stuck thinking of ourselves in certain ways (the black t-shirt problem) and how practicing gets us unstuck

🌟 Why practice is an antidote to perfectionism (hint: practice does not make perfect!)

🌟 Why even accomplished musicians practice and what we can learn from Yo Yo Ma's attitude to practicing

🌟 How practicing lets you practice being your future self -- whether the self of 5 years from now, 1 year from now, or 1 day from now

Take a listen and let me know what you think!

Love, Rachel

P.S. One of my favorite rituals is journal writing. I use a beautiful journal and a favorite pen. Journaling is like going on a date with yourself, getting to know yourself better. Not sure where to start? You can find a some prompts to get you started at at coachingwithrachel.com/prompts.

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email: rachel@coachingwithrachel.com

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Rachel Baum

Certified Life Coach and host of the Making Midlife Magic podcast

I'm a life coach, college professor, and former president of the Overthinkers Club. Also, I host the Making Midlife Magic podcast. I love helping middle aged people dream again and create lives they love. Sign up to get inspiring mind shifts sent right to your email box. I don't over-send, and you can unsubscribe any time. This March & April I'm celebrating my podcast-versary with some delightful giveaways, so now is a great time to sign up!

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