Ever wonder why the holidays stir sentimental, feel-good emotions? It’s likely because your brain is rewarding you for practicing your traditions.
Rituals are at the core of the holiday season, and social scientists suggest rituals have two important biological functions.
Rituals “helps coordinate group behavior and it teaches the young how to behave,” and, thus, rituals become a “cognitive imperative,” according to a 2013 article on ScientificAmerican.com.
In other words, a ritual is a healthy adaption essential to humankind’s survival. As you perform rituals, your brain rewards you with neurochemicals that signal “keep doing this because it may save your life someday.”
CREATING MEMORABLE RITUALS
Drawing on extensive research of thousands of couples, The Gottman Institute discovered that rituals impacted couples’ thoughts, feelings and behaviors in a positive way. Moreover, happy couples demonstrated the ability to create and adhere to rituals in their relationship.
As a marriage therapist and counselor, I work with couples to create rituals, traditions and customs ranging from the simple, daily ones (walking to the mailbox together) to elaborate ones (an annual weekend getaway).
I get very excited about the holidays because it is a wonderful opportunity, despite the busy-ness of the modern world, to create memorable rituals. Here is my list of suggestions to create shared meaning, or rituals, in your relationship during the holidays.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
I remind couples whom I meet in private therapy and at my couples weekend workshops in Colorado that simplicity breeds repeatability. Create shared meaning through simple rituals that can become habitual. In fact, anything can become a ritual. <//p>
These rituals, or shared experiences, strengthen friendship with meaningful connections to one another, by creating memories, and defining the “story” of your relationship.