Often when I’m going through the process there are inevitably questions about the difference between the three.
Many people I have found use the phrase habit and routine interchangeably. Since words have power, when I help with the distinguishing the difference in these three, there is a subtle shift in perception. Once this begins and the person begins to describe these differently they act differently and then almost like magic their results change.
So, what is the difference between routine, habit and ritual?
First let’s look at dictionary.com definition of each for them
- A customary or regular course of procedure.
- Commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity: the routine of an office.
- Regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure.
- An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary: the habit of looking both ways before crossing the street.
- Customary practice or use: Daily bathing is an American habit.
- A particular practice, custom, or usage: the habit of shaking hands.
- A dominant or regular disposition or tendency; prevailing character or quality: She has a habit of looking at the bright side of things.
- Addiction, especially to narcotics (often preceded by the).
- The established form for a ceremony; specifically : the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony
- Ritual observance; specifically
- System of rites
- Ceremonial act or action
- An act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner
We can look at a habit as an individual and stand alone behavior, i.e. smoking, negative thinking or even positive thinking, something that is completely unconsciousness. The individual is almost totally unaware that they are performing the habit.
A routine can be looked at a set of actions that have an outcome in mind, i.e. working out, driving to work, etc. A routine is also unconsciousness and the difference between a routine and a habit is you can look at a routine as a series of habits that have a specific end result.
A ritual is a completely different way of performing a task or series of tasks. A ritual is performed with mindfulness and awareness. A ritual doesn’t have to be associated with a religious or spiritual practice, but it does required being in the here and now.
So, when we look at these three actions the one thing that separates them is mindfulness, which is being 100% aware of what you are doing.
You can turn any habit or routine into a ritual simply by being mindful. And here’s the great thing, as soon as you become mindful of what you are doing you will either stop what you are doing (if it is a “bad” habit) or you will enter the zone and experience bliss.
I suggest you take a look at your day have some fun and experiment a bit. Select one to three things you are currently doing as a habit or routine and turn them into a ritual.
For example, when you are eating, turn off all outside noise, i.e. TV, radio, music and contemplate everything that was required to get the food to your table. The people involved, the processes, the trucks, the ships everything that was necessary to bring the food from where it was grown or raised to your table. Then, as you eat the food chew it slowly and try to pick out all the flavors in each bite. Feel the textures, taste the difference, notice the where in your mouth you are experiencing the flavors.
Sure, it will take you longer then usual to finish your meal….and that’s the point. A ritual has a specific intent and process behind it, which may mean more time involved.
As you turn the three routines or habits into a ritual notice your feelings, your thoughts and where your attention is. As you develop your own personal rituals you will find your life becoming full with gratitude and appreciation.
This will be the first step in living a life of power, purpose and passion!
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