Beautiful rituals – a speculative proposal for behaviour change

April 9, 2015 § 3 Comments

Sit Down And Be Counted

People are suffering from deep loneliness. It may be part of the human condition, but here in the West it’s an epidemic of sorts.

When someone admits to being lonely, “obvious” solutions like joining a club, signing up to night classes or annoying people at bus stops are offered. *Sigh*

How can people just connect with each others’ presence more: (a simple pure presence) without advice, clinginess, deranged moods or agendas?

Where do people go when they want silence, peace and the possibility of hanging out with humans for only 5 minutes?
A cigarette break.

Despite consistent efforts and an oral fixation, I don’t smoke. With a little envy though, I see smokers effortlessly chat, share a light or some other accessory and just stand there, breathing in and out quietly together.

lt’s kind of similar to the way a lot of men just sit at bars drinking. It looks like they don’t talk much of the time, they just enjoy each other’s presence whilst doing something simple.

Ideally alcohol and smoking addictions will be obsolete. But how great would it be if we sat around just drinking water together quietly?

OK, so what I am suggesting is that we state and take all of the beauty of these habits and transfer them across to solve one of the biggest ailments of our time: loneliness and isolation.

How about some kind of natural and acceptable urban ritual that involves people just standing together – breathing and possibly commenting on something relating to said ritual?

How about we have specified points or times for breathing rituals, drinking rituals, laughing rituals, sitting rituals, talking rituals, sky watching rituals, ranting rituals, rolling-downhill-on-grass rituals, board-gaming rituals, burning-your-ex’s-stuff rituals, dancing rituals, raw-food ingestion rituals etc.

The utilitarian and tribal aspect of how people relate to each other needs to be shaken up.  We need randomness and ritual combined.

How can we create new ways of safely and quietly being in the presence of others? No strings, no expectations and plenty of tacit boundaries.

21st century life doesn’t have to be so rational and efficient, does it? Let’s just BE with each other.

This entry was first written for the Your Turn Challenge – a 7-day blogging challenge inspired by the Your Turn book by Seth Godin. It ran from Jan 19 – 25, 2015. Check out the book at  Photo by Seth Anderson


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§ 3 Responses to Beautiful rituals – a speculative proposal for behaviour change

  • liorsmith says:

    I’ve noticed this too. In my experience, a shared ritual starts with a strong personality doing the ritual anyway and making space for other people to join them.

    One thing I do is offer to get water for other people that I sit near in cafes. This opens the space for conversation if it’s wanted, but doesn’t force a connection if they’d rather not talk.

    Last week on a sunny day, I gave out strawberries to shop assistants when I went shopping, and other people in the cafe I went to. I ended up having an hour-long conversation about spirituality with a yoga teacher and getting a box of organic strawberries from someone else because of that!

    These actions can become rituals if they are repeated in the same place. I think they will only work if the actions are sensitive to the environment they are in.

    It totally can be done. It does require challenging normal social rules though, which can be difficult for people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Orlagh says:

      You’ve brought this idea from up-in-the-air to something in the realms of possibility! Starting something new like this involves sharing, openess, motivation, repetition and environment. Like starting to play in a way: if one person is doing something interesting, more people join in as they feel like it, not because they have to. Then more often it happens, the more people come over time.


  • […] a conversation about online communication, friendship, loneliness and human needs. It’s been on my mind lately.  We decided that a form of vitality is being in the presence of another human being. After […]


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