Years ago a friend of mine said to me about her former smoking habit. “It’s the getting up in the morning and having that first cigarette that I miss.”
It wasn’t actually the cigarette that was so important, she learned after she stopped her daily habit, it was the “ritual” of it, she told me.
I’ve thought of what she said many times over the years. She’s gone now, but I learned a lot from her. And because of her I’ve come to understand the importance of rituals.
For instance, I used to grab a bowl of cereal in the mornings and sit down in front of the TV to watch the news. But I realized how truly unsatisfying that habit was.
So now I sit at my little kitchen table for my first meal of the day.
I typically have cereal or oatmeal. Maybe one or two pieces of raisin toast. I also like a small glass of apple juice. Then I have my cup of decaf coffee.
I may still turn on the morning news in the living room. But it is not the main event that I center my meal around.
It is that ritual of setting my table for one, arranging my food and drink in front of me, and settling in to fully enjoy what is often called “the most important meal of the day.”
I think that for those of us who live alone, rituals become even more important.
Some, perhaps missing a loved one, cannot bring themselves to sit at that lonely table, and will maybe choose to just stand at the sink and eat.
But remember: that first meal sets you up for the entire day. It sets the tone for how you will look at the hours following that meal.
As I wrote in The Single Woman’s Holiday Guide, it is vitally important to plan events for yourself, especially when you live alone.
Many will simply let the holidays pass by without decorating or baking or planning a special meal. Maybe they will just put a TV dinner in the oven and call it good.
And that’s an easy habit to fall into.
But consider doing this until you have the habit ingrained: Plan every day with a day planner.
Don’t just write down doctor’s appointments or a loved one’s birthday, etc.
I know it sounds very simplistic, but it can also be very effective. It is a way of making sure you are good to yourself each and every day.
Maybe plan a walk in the park and then treat yourself to coffee or tea.
…A drive in the country with your camera followed by a movie.
…A day of junk shopping followed by lunch.
No matter how simple your plan is, write it down.
Holidays come only a few days a year. It is the little every day things you do for yourself that make up your life.
The very act of writing down your plans will give you something to look forward to. And we all know how much happier we are when we have something to look forward to.
When you open your day planner for the day, but see your plans for the next few days in advance, you will think of those other days and feel anticipation for those future events.
So get in the habit of putting yourself first.
Don’t rely on others to remember your birthday or an anniversary or whatever. Take control, right now, today. Time is of the essence, as we all know. Don’t put this off.
You alone have the power to take your life back and make it truly special.
Start being good to yourself and plan on many simple but enjoyable events to look forward to.
Every. Single. Day.