Rituals can bring us good luck and make us happier

Why do we throw salt over our shoulders?

We have Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper to thank for this superstition. In the picture we see that Judas has knocked over the salt holder. As he was a treacherous liar we now associate spilled salt with his bad behaviour and as such the devil is waiting there. So, spilled salt results in more salt being thrown over your shoulder to abide the waiting dark spirit. Nowadays, we forget the history and throw the salt as a ritual for good luck.

Everyday rituals of work and flying

For everyday rituals we need look no further than all the small rituals of going to an interview, starting a new job, a cold Monday morning trip to work, or returning to work after a city break

Some of these gear yourself up to work rituals may be: wearing a lucky necklace, a certain pair of socks, having an extra hot latte to go on the commute to the interview, listening to certain music, practising the possible interview questions while wearing the interview outfit, a lucky pair of shoes, walking the scenic route.

Flying has its own rituals and superstitions. If we touch the fuselage of the plane as we board it will keep us safe. I use to think I was the only person who patted the plane like it was a good little puppy but people watch the next time you fly and see for yourself.

The Skinner box

If you've ever written a psychology paper then you will have heard of  the famous Skinner box. B.F. Skinner, American psychologist, showed superstition in pigeons feeding rituals. He did this by putting them in a box and fed them regularly. These pigeons started to associate random behaviours with the food leading to intricate routines of behaviour. It gave them a sense of control over the food. Food is survival thus resulting in a feeling of control over this lives, in a way that makes them god or at least directly communion with a god in order to get the food.

A sense of control

Having a feeling of control which is one of the deepest needs we have, it helps us feel happy, calm, understanding, safe. Control is amongst the most basic of needs on Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Rituals = feeling of control = happy

 Most often we use rituals as a light-hearted way of self-expression, or to give a positive spin to a situation, to sharpen our intentions and goals ( we use a lucky pen to sign legal papers as our intentions are for the business to be successful), when the stakes are high and we need some reassurance, an outcome of an event is uncertain or beyond our control.

This is not an illusion of control as this sense we have feeds our desire to work harder, stay alert, watch out, and as with my patting the plane, it reconfirms in me to show more self-care.

People who skit at your rituals or who have none could be considered to be the worse off for their lack of belief as this is a state of depressive realism. Which does not increase our mental well-being nor invoke in us feelings of control, sacredness, or happiness as the extreme realist never makes anything sacred, their emotions and thoughts are directed at the little control they have.

Huzzah to rituals, I say! Pass me the salt...sure why not?!