Via this posting by Tyge Mortensen, I came across this interesting TED talk by A.J. Jacobs, who talked about an experiment he did: Following all the rules of the bible for a year. Listening to Mr. Jacobs, I learned, for example, this:
Mr. Jacobs explains that one of his big lessons of the year was that change in behaviour will lead to change in thinking. He had always thought it was the other way around. Mr. Jacobs also mentions a couple of examples: If you want to become more compassionate, go visit sick people in the hospital. And if you smile, you will become happier.
Mr. Jacobs mentions that another big lesson and a key to happiness for him was to thank for the many things that go right during a day - as opposed to focusing on the few things that go wrong during a day.
Mr. Jacobs mentions that rituals are, by nature, irrational. The key is to choose the right rituals, the ones that are not harmful. As an example of a ritual, he mentions blowing out candles on top of a birthday cake.