January 11

The Power of Rituals: How to Build Positive, Energizing Daily Rituals

Filed under More Than Raw Foods by Frederic Patenaude

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Let’s face it: most of us find it a real struggle to improve some aspects of our lifestyle, whether it be working out, eating right, giving up some negative habits or starting a project that is dear to us.

In this article, I want to give you the missing link for overcoming negative habits and adopting positive ones.

Why Willpower Fails

I just finished an awesome book called The Power of Full Engagement, by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The book explains how to manage your energy instead of your time to achieve higher performance in every aspect of your life.

In the book, the authors stress the importance of building “positive, energy-building rituals”. They’ve done a tremendous amount of research with top athletes (particularly tennis players) to try to identify what differentiate the top 10 performers from the rest of the pack.

The findings are extremely interesting. The reasons why some players reach the top while others never will is comes down to two main elements: “ability to recover” and “rituals”. Let’s talk about the latter.

Here’s why using willpower alone will fail to change you behavior: it requires your conscious attention.

Let’s say you want to start working out and eat more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet. If you simply rely on your willpower alone to accomplish it, chances are that you’ll do well for a short while, and then fall off the wagon.

Think about it: do you have to remind yourself to brush your teeth every night? Do you have to post a reminder in front of your bathroom mirror to make sure that you brush your teeth before going to bed?

Chances are that no, you just do it automatically. Why? Because it has become a sub-conscious habit. It has become a *ritual*.

Rituals are powerful because they help bring any behavior into a subconscious, automatic habit.

What if you didn’t have to remind yourself to exercise, that you just did it automatically?

What if you didn’t have to think about what foods you’re going to eat, because your diet would basically take care of itself?

What if you could implement a series of automatic, powerful rituals that would bring you to your ideal weight, increase your energy by at least 200%, and keep you in fabulous health for the rest of your life?

How to Build Rituals

Let me give you an example.

For many years, I found myself enable to maintain an exercise program for more than a few weeks at a time.

I would try to work out with a vague, imprecise program. I would go to the gym on an off, go on my bike every day and then give it up for a while.

Whenever I would travel somewhere, I would completely fall off the wagon with my exercise program.

The problem was… I didn’t have clear rituals around those activities! It was entirely left to my conscious attention, which is why it didn’t work.

Ask anyone you know who works out regularly. Chances are that they’ll tell you they work out at regular times.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday they go to the gym, at 7 a.m., or something like that. And when they’re traveling, they might even have an alternative exercise program they do on the road.

If you’re struggling with your diet, and keep going back and forth between raw food purity and cooked food binges, or you can’t find the motivation to exercise… chances are that you don’t have clear rituals to handle these issues.

Want to start working out?

You need clear problem that will eventually become automatic.

The Three Elements of a Ritual

A clear ritual can include these three elements:

When – At what time are you going to do the activity?

Where – Where are you going to do it?

How – In what manner, in what order, and using what?

For example, you could decide that every morning, you will drink a green smoothie. You will make that smoothie at 8:00 a.m., after your exercise program (when), and make a quantity large enough to have some for later (how).

You’re going to make sure you always have ingredients available to make the smoothies (how). If you’re at home, you’re going to make it with your home blender. And you might even consider buying a travel blender to bring on the road, or create a different breakfast for the times you are traveling (where).

You see, with the example above, the when, where and how have been clearly defined. Once you go through the ritual for a few weeks, it will become completely automatic.

Examples of Rituals to Build

You can completely transform your life by creating many of these powerful, energy-giving rituals. Here are some examples:

– Your morning ritual: what are the first 5 to 10 things you do every morning, after waking up?

– Your daily workout schedule

– Your exercise program for when you’re traveling

– A daily walk

– Your learning or reading ritual

– Your time-management on the Internet ritual

– Your personal renewal time rituals

– Going on a one day cleanse, once a week

– Going an a quarterly cleanse, such as the green cleanse

– Your writing ritual


When building these rituals, don’t try to do everything at once. Work on one or two (maximum three) rituals at a time, until they become automatic.

Be very clear about the when, where and how, and create plenty of rituals for your own renewal and rejuvenation time!

If you want to read more about this topic, I recommend reading “The Power of Full Engagement”. Also, if you’d like to join me for the next three weeks on an adventure to implement three powerful, positive rituals into your life, join the 21 Day Challenge!

30 Responses to “The Power of Rituals: How to Build Positive, Energizing Daily Rituals”

  1. Jen Cole says:

    This makes so much sense I feel like I should be able to say “I knew that” except, I didn’t know that! Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  2. Marsha says:

    When the student is ready, the teacher will come – isn’t that the way the saying goes? Thanks, Frederic, for the article on rituals. I’ve been working towards building consistent habits so that good eating, adequate exercise, time management and such are occurring in my life. The word “ritual” really makes sense! There’s a bit of a paradigm shift for me when I think of the word “ritual” to describe those habitual activities. Somehow using “ritual” adds weight and importance to those habits. There’s even a spiritual aspect of ritual as well which is interesting. I like it! Thanks for mentioning the book – it’s one I’ll read for sure.

    My best to you,

  3. Bernadette says:

    Hi Frederic,
    I am very grateful for the 21-day challenge because it has come into my life at the perfect time. I have just finished reading “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell and have been telling people ever since I started reading it, that after the Christmas festivities were over, I would be cutting out all animal products and refined foods from my diet; in other words, changing to a 100% vegan diet. However, the New Year came and went and I was dragging my heels because we still had all these leftovers from Christmas and were still being invited to people’s houses for dinner that didn’t see us over the holidays. When I read about the 21-day challenge in my inbox, I was really happy to know that there was an actual day I could pick to get started on this quest. I decided on my 3 goals and finished reading the book by Sunday night. My first day went really well. The fact that I had a program to follow on a specific day, namely January 14th, is the first example of how structure has helped me to accomplish my goal. Thank you for that. Bernadette

  4. Sylvia Smith says:

    I have been trying undo bad habits so much that possibly it is time some good ones.
    Perhaps this is why I have been feeling ina rut.

  5. Elayne says:

    Wow thank you Frederic for putting a different spin on the word “habit” I like ritual much better. The word alone elicits a sense of power and spirituality. Something from the core of the person rather than an act that is only on the outside.

    I realized in reading your article about rituals. That I have incorporated one healthy ritual which I do every morning. Each morning between 4am and 5am I make myself a delicious green smoothie. I cannot imagine starting my day without one. I look forward to experimenting with different fruits and veggies. I’ve now been doing green smoothies every morning for 3 months. I even travel with a blender to make sure I can get my green smoothies made when I am away from home.

    It’s great to think of this “habit” has a healthy spiritual ritual.. One that is a part of who I am

    Thank you,

  6. Jumana says:

    i wanna thank you Frederic for bringing this up, your right Rituals are Powerful and once we stick to it we can’t leave it or quit because it becomes a part of our daily basis life but also what makes thr rituals more Powerful that we have to want doing that ritual to make it work, the inner feeling of wanting to change and becoming a better individual, some people or lets say all people have some thoughts in mind about changing some aspects of their lives but never moved a finger to change a thing! ever wondered why? because they don’t have that deep genuine urge to change themselves because some people fear the unknown and they don’t like to change though they want to, and that implies to an important sign that they are still not ready to make the change! so what am trying to say that what matters really most to change and what makes the rituals works wether they were precise or not “THE WANTING TO CHANGE”, You have to want really from deep down you to change and become what you want to be, because taht means that you are READY to change! i think thats the real key to real sucess, you have to really feel from your inner side that you want to change because when you have that, it means your body is sending you amessage that he’s ready to adopt the changes coming above and this means you will succeed! you know what? i started doing 2 habits of the 3 habits we submitted in the 21 challenge day before it even starts! you know why? i started with myself because i felt like i really want to change and am totally Ready for doing it now, and therefore the Rituals worked! every morning i wake up and i have my milk with honey and oats not because i have to drink it, but rather because i really want to drink it and be more healthy, and i started taking Yoga lessons its going to be every sunday and wednesday from 6 to 9, and am going to start doing the third habit by tonight which is to sleep early and to be much more precise am going to sleep by 10, look i just want you guys to know that its going to work for all of us if we really feel that we want to change, follow your hunch always, because it always takes you to the right place if you got the signals right! Rituals reinforces that urge of being ready and it makes “THE WANTING PART” to come true and makes that desire becoming a real habit and adopting a habit becomes apart of your character and who you really want to be, am i right?
    but seriously you are amazing! and i loved the fact that you mentioned that “Ritual Issue” , Thanks indeed, and seriously i would love to hear your comments guys and you Fredrick about what i just said , i love to hear different opinions and know what you think of my comments. if anybody wants to comment send me the comments at felicity_forever_4_us@hotmail.com , looking forward to hear your comments 😉

    with my best regards

  7. lolixx says:

    EYE Opening!! Thank you Fred!

    I was so excited I completed my goals yesterday but realized while doing so I felt a bit under challanged. At the gym I did 30 minutes (abs class), but then I could do more like my cardio. Then this morning I made all my food to take for the day and realized that I was eating three raw things… not three raw meals like I had proposed. Ok here is the revised day #2

    1. I will eat all raw vegan foods until 6pm at night!
    2. I will excercise for 60 minutes monday-friday!
    3. I will be a positive influence for 3 people each day!

    Ok feeling better… 🙂

  8. franca says:

    Thank you Frederick for the article on rituals. It is really difficult for me to stick with a diet or excersise program. I am hoping that the 21 day challenge will change that for me and my habits will continue as I would like. It really would be fantastic, thank you for all your great words and advice.

  9. Jeanie Ortiz-Monasterio says:

    I have been doing a weekly cleanse-fast, once a week for over 5 years, which has helped my improve my eyesight, my hearing and balance my kidney energy after having lost a kidney more than 25 years ago. At least once a year, I also enjoy a 2 week cleanse. These are practices that I have learned through ayurvedic medicine. Several years ago, I also stayed 4 weeks in an ayurvedic clinic to cleanse and rejuvenate and in the process learned to read my physical, emotional and mental instincts with greater clarity. For me an important tool to become more aware in those areas has been to start each day with my spiritual exercises because they have helped me become more conscious of my needs and my purpose in this life, which in turn helps me make better choices to meet those needs and that purpose.

  10. Pamela says:


    And thanks for the 21 day challenge.

    I am really hearing to take on a little at a time, and make it clear and measurable.

    This is making a HUGE difference in my life.

    I am one who is very capable and that gets me caught in trying too hard, trying to do too much, and then wondering why i am not living my potential.

    Clarity and simplicity really serve me.

    MANY THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    MANY BLESSINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. POLLYBEE says:

    Thanks Frederic, I am really trying, but now I am going to try even harder by putting the ritual back into my day. I have recently quit my job to be home with my husband and help with his business and he has recent health problems. I was on a ritual getting up in the morning and going to work, I have somehow lost that. Now after reading your article it will happen once again here NOW!!!
    thanks again… Pollybee

  12. Brenda says:

    Thanks Frederic for the article of the Rituals. I am ready to make a difference in
    my life and you will be part of the reason and my buddy , i made this change for the best.

  13. MacKenzie says:

    When I think of the habits I want to incorporate into my life as rituals, it seems to shift my perception to “I have to” or “it’s work” to something I do for myself and look forward to. Marsha’s comments says the rest for me. Thanks Marsha and Frederic.


  14. Julia says:

    Thank you Frederic,

    I did read this when it first came in, just didn’t post right away. It is about refining my focus isn’t it. I’m getting more out of this than I realized. I think the breathing and green smoothies are doing it!! I am becoming more aware of my thoughts too!! I appreciate you connecting body, mind and spirit.

    Looking forward to the process of meeting my real in the raw self,


  15. Lee says:

    Thank you Fredric for all the motivation you provided!! I really needed help to stay raw right now. I have really good habits for the last 5 years of beeing raw but recently w/family, school, & work everything got a little side track. Thanks for reminding me to stay on track 🙂

  16. Winsome Sutherland says:

    Thanks for your article on rictual. So true indeed, I am doing great so far on the 21day challenge,now today i didn’t get to do the workout, and everything is out of balance, i dont even feel like workingright now but i will have to, and then get back to my rictual tommorrow. You have opened my eyes to the power of rictuals, and now that I am aware, i will stick to my rictual.

    Thankyou, keep up the good work

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  20. This is a great article. definitely something i’ve been looking for. i’ve definitely been trying to engage in some new habits and i think this article provided a good foudation as to how to go about doing it productively.

    Once again, great article!

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  22. Cindy says:

    The use of “Ritual” personalizes “Habit.” I like it. Small steps over time with purpose and direction are essential.

    Thank you for participating in Fitness for Mom’s Carnival.

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  27. ananga says:

    Thank you for submitting this article to the Living by Design Blog Carnival – it has been included in Carnival No. 21

    with best wishes

    Living by Design – Personal Development for Thoughtful People

  28. […] Patenaude presents The Power of Rituals: How to Build Positive, Energizing Daily Rituals posted at Frederic Patenaude Talks, saying, "Great tips about using rituals to achieve […]

  29. Doing it Differently Blog Carnival, 16th Edition…

    Another action-packed edition of the Doing it Differently blog carnival! There were so many quality entries this time around that I had to really pick and choose the best of the best. Topic include money/success, personal growth, relationships, health,…

  30. great post! yes, willpower is quite overrated and only a useful tool for those who come by it naturally. also, i’ve not yet seen a defition of willpower that satisfies me. it’s often just an idea that floats around …

    rituals are very powerful. thanks for discussing them here.

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