‘The Ritual Effect’ Is Our April SELF Well-Read Book Club Pick

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Each month, the SELF Well-Read Book Club highlights a timely, delightful, and crucial book on a subject that helps readers live better lives. So far, we’ve covered everything from the politics of running to the state of modern motherhood.

When many of us think of rituals, things like significant occasions, milestones, or cultural ties come to mind—like the quirky traditions that make family holidays unique; the ceremonies that often take place at weddings; or even the threadbare lucky socks you wear every time your team plays its biggest rival. But what if rituals could bring that same amount of joy to the more mundane parts of our lives, too?

Well, according to psychologist and Harvard Business School professor Michael I. Norton, they can—and that’s exactly what he aims to show in The Ritual Effect: Unlocking the Extraordinary Power of the Ordinary, our April SELF Well-Read Book Club Pick. This isn’t your typical, preachy self-help manual. In fact, Norton has no interest in telling you which rituals are worth adopting—that part is up to you. Instead, the book breaks down the true meaning of rituals and the positive ways they can impact your relationships, personal and professional lives, and sense of self, reframing the concept as something much fresher, more special, and more accessible than you may have once thought.

Chances are, you’re already practicing more everyday rituals than you realize. They can be as simple as the way you prepare your coffee each morning, the order in which you apply your skincare products, or the warm-up stretches you move through before every run. When you don’t do them, things just don’t feel right. “Good habits automate us, helping us to get things done,” Norton writes. On the other hand, he says, “Rituals animate us, enhancing and enchanting our lives with something more.” For example: Shifting from a “habitual” to “ritual” mindset can turn your dreaded Sunday grocery runs into cherished weekly reset, or office lunch breaks into an opportunity to meaningfully connect with coworkers.

So—why now? While January is a more typical time to implement new goals and make tweaks to your routine, it’s often filled with outsized pressure to overhaul your entire life—and, let’s be real, the month is cold and bleak. But spring—a season famously full of growth and new energy—is an excellent time to revisit and reinvigorate habits that could be serving you better. As the world comes back to life, think about test-driving some new rituals that might make your ordinary routines feel more special.

We hope that a ritual mindset will spark joy, connection, healing, or simply help you add a little magic to the mundane. Don’t forget to grab your copy of The Ritual Effect below, explore some suggested reading to further inspire your spring ritual refresh, and check out our Q&A with author Michael Norton—all about the benefits and challenges you can expect from your new rituals—here.

‘The Ritual Effect: From Habit to Ritual, Harness the Surprising Power of Everyday Actions’ by Michael I. Norton

Suggested reading:

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