The difference between a routine and a ritual is an internal conversation that I’ve been informally having with myself for the past week or so. Have you ever thought about this?
Routines are systematic, regular, efficient (theoretically), and helpful series of actions. Take, for example, a hypothetical morning routine – you hit snooze three times (or five… whatever… you do you), stumble to the shower, brush your teeth, get dressed for work, make coffee, grab your lunch, and you’re out the door. You don’t have to think too much about any of these steps – you’re sort of on auto-pilot. This series of events can even feel so automatic for you that your morning feels somehow “off” if you happen to skip a step. This routine serves to meet your personal needs (hygiene, nutrition, getting to work on time), and the habitual nature of the routine saves you the trouble of having to individually remember each of these steps, again and again, every morning. You get the benefit of “getting shit done” while not having to engage that much with your choices or actions.
Rituals are systematic, regular, and helpful as well, but there is a big difference: Intention. Rituals are a series of actions that serve a purpose that is bigger than yourself. Perhaps rituals meet your spiritual needs, your emotional needs, or your need to connect to a force beyond the regular ins and outs of your daily routines. When you have a ritual, you are fully engaged in your choices and your actions. Every step of the ritual is thoughtful and purposeful. You are wholly present in the time spent at each step along the way, and you are aware of how each smaller step comes together towards the larger goal of your ritual.
What would happen if we shifted some routines to rituals? How would that shift of awareness impact our lives?