Everyone has routines and rituals that get them through their everyday life. But so often, these terms are mixed. Because there is a fundamental difference between a ritual and a routine, knowing this will help you make more deliberate, conscious choices in how you approach either.
What’s Your Routine?
A routine is, well, routine: It’s a process or an action you regularly repeat. These can be things like brushing your teeth before bed, taking a shower every second morning, eating breakfast at 8:35 am, working out after work every Wednesday and Friday; you get the idea. They are activities that almost become second nature as you give them little thought because they are so intrinsic to your everyday life. While that may sound a bit reductive and make them seem tedious, it’s important to note how vital routine is for people. Whether we know it or not, we crave a certain amount of structure. Our daily routines offer our minds respite because they don’t take much effort and provide a stable “norm” for us.
What Makes a Ritual?
On the other hand, a ritual, which you can also regularly repeat, is an activity practiced with more meaning. It has a more profound sense of purpose and is very intentional. You take a routine action that you find special and turn it into a celebration of what you are doing. It could be the extra effort of putting on calming music and incense to help you connect more deeply in your yoga session. Or maybe you water the plants in your office to center yourself for the coming business of the day. Just because it’s a “ritual” doesn’t mean it needs to be a long, drawn-out event or spiritual seance (unless you want it to be!) What’s important is that you consciously choose to connect with the activity and let it fulfill a part of you.
Bringing Routine and Ritual Together
To appreciate the “little” things in life, I’ve been finding ways to turn many of my routines into rituals, deriving more joy and pleasure from life. It’s made everything richer and more soulful. For example, I journal daily to clear my head. Now, I light a candle to enhance the experience, letting the scent and sensation of a calming flame add to the time I spend penning my thoughts. Another ritual is when I shower, I’ve added a step for gratitude. While washing, I thank my body for being the beautiful vehicle that carries me through my life journey. So seemingly simple, but it takes a little extra effort to have that awareness and its wonders for my overall well-being. As you can see, it doesn’t take much to build a ritual out of the routine, so don’t let the idea daunt you. When you start to embellish moments of your life, they enrich you every day.
Like I said, your daily routine is essential. But by shifting your mindset, you can see that there are opportunities to create daily and weekly rituals as well. And it is a gift to do so. Speaking from experience, it feels better to have rituals in life. You won’t feel like routine is hum-drum and dragging you down. Your daily tasks can become full of optimism, be something you look forward to, and improve your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. So, take the time to develop your rituals. Look at your routine, see the activities that you enjoy more, and find ways to make them more personal and approach them with more intention. Fill your day with fulfillment! You deserve it.
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