We all have routines and rituals that over time become part of our each and every day. They can be as simple as that first cup of coffee in a special mug, making our bed, cleaning as we go, a to-do list before work, exercising, or reading to our child before bed.
The difference between a routine and a ritual is the thought process behind the action. Routines are what need to do to be done and rituals are more meaningful with a sense of purpose, and they do not have to be spiritual or religious.
How do you decide what in your life is a routine or a ritual? One might argue a nightly shower before bed is a routine, however, I have experienced that this for me is the start over, it washes away and signals to my brain the old day is over. For me, it is somewhere between a routine task and ritual.
Step back, create space, and look at your days, weeks, months, and find the meaning behind why you do what you do? As you check off the to-do list and contain the chaos of your days, rituals help to visualize the bigger picture. Finding that moment of stillness, slowing down, and seeing life through those “magical glasses” as we discussed in the first post.
Rituals are grounding, they help shift our attention where it’s most needed. Rituals are repeated and can even be part of your routine. Next time you are going through the motions of your day slow down and take a moment to think about the importance and if there is more to this accomplishment than you thought.
Rituals are very personal, remember whatever it is you are already doing it’s what it means to you. You might be wondering why I think this is important and as simple as it is to explain a routine, rituals can often seem strange. On some level you could compare rituals to superstitions, why do hockey player not wash their team socks until the playoffs are over? It’s hard to believe it makes a difference but they do it anyway.
Routines are important, but rituals help you get through those routines. We are often on autopilot, without even realizing it and I encourage you to slow down and take a moment to see the rituals that already exist within your routines and acknowledge them.
Benjamin Franklin wrote naked for an hour every morning to “refresh” his mind in the cold air.
Remember they don’t have to make sense to anyone but you, having personal rituals is grounding. It provides a deeper sense to oneself and the day and life that you live. As you go through the next few days take note of what your routine is and what rituals might already exist. Once they are labeled it keeps you focused.
Checking the box day to day, is unfortunately quite often how many of us live our lives. What fulfillment does that bring? Remembering that each day is a gift, being grateful for the abilities within our bodies, and staying positive are much more fulfilling. It’s a shift one I was forced into after a cancer diagnosis. I now have a deepened appreciation for these little rituals in my day. The one’s “I” only know about. Often when we find ourselves stuck in our cycles and feeling overwhelmed by our routines, we become paralyzed. What happens here is the beginning of falling into bad habits, believe me, I was diagnosed at Halloween in 2018 and there were a bazillion small candy wrappers here there, and everywhere. It wasn’t good for me on any level and I won’t even talk about my waistline.
I felt stuck, I was overwhelmed, and it continued for months and years. I allowed life to simply happen around me, squeezing in as much as I could every day without a plan and waking up each day already looking forward to crawling into bed that night.
Discovering rituals within my day has helped me connect with myself. It became less about the to-dos of my day and finding moments to celebrate and recognize specific aspects of my life.
Next time you settle in to some of your routines think about how it may have become a ritual and you didn’t even know it. Eating dinner with your spouse at the end of every day, listening to soft music, and connecting may seem like a routine and I can tell you this is much more than fuel for the body.
As you continue to grow, your routines and rituals will change and grow as well. Be open to empowering these new parts of your day as you work towards living a daily life you love.
With Love and Encouragement,