The Importance of Ritual

Ben Heim
3 min readNov 29, 2023
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

There is incredible amounts of joy and progress to be found in ritual. Just take a look at the obsession of people with morning routines on YouTube. People believe in the power of ritual to lead to a better life, but we so often lose it.

I used to go to church when I was a kid. Every Sunday, I’d spend my morning learning about Jesus, his disciples, and repenting my sins. I hated it.

I never wanted to go to church. It was boring. But looking back, I’ve come to appreciate those Sundays a little more. It was a space to reflect. It was a space to stop consuming, doing. Even if I wasn’t paying attention, I at least had a place to think.

The weekly practice gave me time to reflect and reset. And I think I might be losing that — I’m losing ritual. Interesting about the way I see ritual, I see it largely as a daily or weekly practice while it was so often not ( in the past. At most, it would come once or fewer times a year.

I don’t think there’s much of a difference. Each has its place. The problem is that when we leave organized religions, distance ourselves from anything that’s not “productive” (I don’t see this as a consequence of capitalism but rather humanity’s desire for more), we lose the value of ritual — and there’s a lot to be lost.

Ritual is Necessary for Yourself

What do you do when you first wake up in the morning? I scroll my phone. I’m not proud of it. I’d rather do something else, but I don’t. I kept a morning routine for a while, but I slowly lost it. And without a sense of structure, I employ the lowest energy solution: scrolling on social media. In early humanity, if I wanted to see cool colors and be stimulated, I’d at least have to get out of bed and explore the proximal jungle. Now I can lie in bed and do so.

Rituals are often not the lowest energy activity. They involve things you don’t necessarily want to do in the moment but know are good for you in the long-term. They’re energy-intensive. But you get so much energy back from them.

If you ask people who run why they run, many will say it brings them energy and focus. It seems non-intuitive why people who expend an extra 300 calories a day have more energy than those who…