The Difference Between Routines vs. Rituals


The difference between a routine and a ritual is not necessarily the action, but the attitude behind the action.

To many, a routine is getting up every morning, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, and going to work. It is not a meaningful part of our day, but it needs to get done so we do it. It’s viewed as a chore.

However, rituals are viewed as more meaningful practices. Often, there is symbolism involved, and a real sense of purpose. A big part of it is your subjective experience of the activity.

Here are the key differences I find between “routines” vs. “rituals.”

Routines Rituals
Minimal engagement Full engagement
Tedious and meaningless Symbolic and meaningful
Externally motivated Internally motivated
Life as a duty Life as a celebration
Dull awareness Bright awareness
Disconnected series of events Tells a story
Little sense of belonging Sense of belonging
Focus only on completion of tasks Focus on performance of tasks

While we may often associate “rituals” with religion or spirituality, I believe we can transform any “routine” into a “ritual” with the right attitude and perspective.

For example, one very simple thing you can do is recite affirmations. This is just one way to turn something tedious and boring into something a little more meaningful and purposeful.

Another thing you can do is use your daily chores as an opportunity to practice being more mindful and aware of your actions. You can start by checking out these 3 everyday activities to apply mindfulness to.

So instead of feeling like every daily activity is something that “just needs to get done,” it becomes an activity you feel serves a positive function in your life, and it becomes something you may even enjoy doing and look forward to.

Ultimately, the more meaning you can add to your daily activities, the more motivated you become to do them.

Try to step back and see the “bigger picture” behind your daily activities, and how they improve your life as a whole. This will add more meaning and help you view your activities as more of a ritual.

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