The Ritual of Enjoyment

So a study last year in the journal Psychological Science looked at the rituals we attach to eating and how they affect how much we enjoy our food. They gave a chocolate bar to two sets of people. One set they told to just eat the chocolate. The other they gave very specific, very ritualistic, instructions. The subjects were told to break the chocolate in half without unwrapping it. Then they could unwrap one half and eat it before unwrapping the other half and consuming it.

The ritual performing subject noted that their chocolate was more enjoyable; they savored it, relishing every bite and would even be willing to pay more for the ritual-enhanced chocolate than regular chocolate.

Bear in mind, this was not special chocolate.

The subjects who did not do the ritual confirmed that fact–they liked the chocolate, but they did not enjoy it as much. The ritual was what made it enjoyable.

The authors conclude their study by stating that rituals make our lives better. If you’re obsessive compulsive, rituals make your life less stressful. If you suffer a loss or disappointment, rituals help you cope–think of the ritual of mourning. Rituals help you feel more in control of a wide, scary, uncontrollable world.

After reading this study I started looking at some of my rituals of enjoyment. My writing is one place I hold rituals. If I want to write, I get up at 5:00 am, an hour before my hubby and settle in while it’s still dark outside, imagination unleashed. When I read at home alone, it’s bundled up in blankets on the couch with a fire in the fireplace and a cat on the blanket at my feet. When I want a really good, healthy meal, I wait until my husband gets home and we chop up the vegetables together, stir pots side by side, finish each other’s cooking tasks. That food tastes extra good. And when I want to think about life and how it connects to the universe and how humans relate to each other, I blog. I blog nearly every Wednesday. It keeps me grounded, it keeps me grateful, and it keeps me thinking.

So tell me, what are some of your rituals of enjoyment?

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Aidee Ladnier

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