On this week’s episode of the Dot to Dot podcast Lou and I talk about why rituals work. It turns out that there are real, scientific benefits to rituals. Rituals are practiced in all walks of life from preparing for a job interview to playing sport – and of course in every religion. On the whole they ease our worries, concerns, grief, anxieties and give us comfort. When we take them too far they risk becoming OCD, when used in moderation they can actually benefit even people who claim not to believe that they work (Scientific American).
We’re used to the rituals of athletes such as tennis player Nadal, who places his hair behind his ear, pulls his nose and adjusts his shorts while bouncing the ball before every point. People have accused him of using this as a way to break the momentum of his opponents. But Nadal says that these routines are for his psychological benefits. And the research would suggest that this is true, for many of us, not just athletes. Rituals give us a sense of control when we’re facing uncertainty. Research by Harvard psychologists Francesca Gino and Michael I. Norton suggest that engaging in rituals mitigates grief caused by both life-changing losses (e.g. such as the death of a loved one) through to the more mundane ones (e.g. losing a lottery).
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