There are times when we lose the compass. We feel disoriented and do not know which direction to take. Those moments are dangerous because stress assaults us, leading us to make hasty decisions that we could later regret. There is a simple “solution”: when you do not know what to do, prepare a cup of tea.
Both in Ireland and in the United Kingdom, people prepare tea when they need to take a break. In Asian countries, tea has been elevated to a cult beverage. The ceremonial to prepare and serve the tea implies a stop in the daily life to discipline the mind and calm the heart. So many people for so many centuries can not be wrong, so we can include this ritual in our life to find the serenity we need to make better decisions.
Hot tea has unsuspected effects on our behavior and mood. Science confirms it. A study conducted at Yale University discovered that the simple act of holding a cup with a hot drink in our hands makes us more generous and open, something that does not happen when we hold a cold cup. It also makes us see complete strangers as warmer, friendly and extroverted people.
The key lies in the unconscious association we make between physical and emotional heat. In practice, the heat of a cup of tea makes us feel more comfortable, and that breaks down our mental barriers, which brings us closer to the others.
On the other hand, the tea ritual itself generates psychological comfort. A study conducted at Harvard University proved that the rituals we undertake after experiencing a loss help us to alleviate pain, while those we perform when we feel stressed help us reduce anxiety and consolidate self-confidence.
Following a ritual to prepare and serve tea also allows us to adopt a mindfulness attitude that takes us away from the problems that concern us. This way we can assume a psychological distance that helps us to see the situation from another perspective.
In fact, the tea ceremony in Asian countries represents a stop in everyday life to appreciate the beauty of simplicity, it is an act as simple as extraordinary with a great symbolism.
It is not by chance that the Japanese tea ceremony, the most famous in the world, has taken from Zen Buddhism and developed as a transformative spiritual practice. It is an aid to meditation to learn to value the small things of life and embrace tranquility, sobriety and control.
Of course, preparing tea will not make the problems disappear by magic, but it can help you find the inner peace you need to face adversity and make better decisions. It is a stop in the maelstrom of your thoughts so you can put order. If you learn to enjoy this ritual, it will help you to take away a great deal of stress from your daily life.
Norton, M. I. & Gino, F. (2013) Rituals Alleviate Grieving for Loved Ones, Lovers, and Lotteries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General; 143(1): 266-72.
Williams, L. E. & Bargh, J. A. (2008) Experiencing Physical Warmth Promotes Interpersonal Warmth. Science; 322(5901): 606–607.