As much as we wish for each day to be different, the cycle of repeating the same actions day after day is pretty common. Life can become mundane or worse, bad habits creep in. And while we tend to use the words “routine” and “ritual” interchangeably, they both mean two distinct things. Understanding the difference can help you design new rituals and build good habits.
Rituals are often associated with religious practices or ceremonies. This is not what I am talking about. So then, what is the difference between a routine and a ritual? It’s the mindset behind the action.
Routines are tasks that just need to be done, such as brushing your teeth or making the bed. Routines may be efficient, but they’re not fulfilling on their own. And that’s where rituals come in.
Rituals are viewed as more meaningful practices that have significance.
Applying mindfulness to daily routines is a great way to create rituals for yourself. With rituals, you are fully engaged with a focus on the experience of the task, rather than just the completion.
Rituals are intentional and hold value and purpose and help form good habits. Habits are practices that become so much a part of our lives that we can perform them subconsciously. Establishing rituals that bring more goodness into our lives will motivate us to repeat the behavior until it becomes habitual.
Many wonderful practices can be put into effect in our daily lives that bring value into our day. I’ve blogged previously on journaling which is a ritual that paves the way for your day ahead. Practicing gratitude, prayer and meditation are all great morning and evening rituals.
You can tag a new ritual onto an already formed routine. This makes it easier to learn a new habit. Here are some suggestions for ways to do so.
Whatever you chose to do, it has to fit into your lifestyle so that it’s achievable and repeatable. You may think change is unattainable and that you can’t teach yourself new habits. Can’t is a four-letter word!
Instead of saying I can’t _______ (fill in the blank) ask yourself, “what can I do differently?” Take some time for self-reflection. What do you do well? What do you need to improve? What’s working and what’s not? This will guide you in the direction where the addition of a new ritual will improve the quality of your life!
If you find yourself heading to the couch to watch Netflix or scroll endlessly through social media, you are probably not being mindful of your actions. Your choice for comfort is hurting your growth!!! Staying in your well-worn ruts doesn’t create new habits and foster growth.
When rituals are repeated multiple times, new neural pathways are formed in your brain and a habit is formed. Choose your rituals wisely. Pouring a glass of wine at night when you get home from work isn’t necessarily bad, but if it becomes a habit, then it could be. You get the idea! Choose wisely and create good habits that will serve you well.
Rituals don’t have to be limited to daily habits but can also be used to celebrate birthdays and holidays. They can also be used to create more meaningful weekends. Here are some examples.
Think of activities that are geared around our own families and cultures. It’s about creating the ability to make ourselves aware of them and take the time it takes to make them happen. Meaningfully. Adding depth to our busy lives. Creating time and space to be consciously together and enjoying it by “being there in full.”
Now you’ve started to think about it, there are probably a lot of routines that you might choose to turn into daily rituals. What’s important is that you develop rituals that add meaning and purpose to your day. As you’re working through this, there are three simple things to remember:
#1 Create The Proper Environment
It will have a dramatic impact on what you do. For example, if you set out your journal next to your favorite coffee cup at the kitchen table, you’re more likely to write in the morning.
#2 Set Small Steps
If you have a goal to start running, just start small. Perhaps you walk 3 miles and then switch between walking and jogging in 3-5 minute increments until you build up to running the full 3 miles.
#3 Let Go Of Perfectionism
Spending time every day changing routines to rituals doesn’t mean that you will end up with something perfect the first time. Don’t give up. Keep practicing.
You are a unique individual with your dreams, desires, and goals that you want to achieve. There isn’t a right or wrong set of rituals to follow, the secret to success is identifying your daily routines that can be turned into the rituals that inspire and motivate you to achieve your set of goals.