Love in Action
Cut and Paste

Sometimes Mondays Are for Questions

This year, I came up with a few things I wanted to "explore." And by that I mean . . . Consider. Learn about. Chew on. Maybe even fold into my life in some way.

And one of those things is . . . ritual.


(Does "ritual" have anything to do with that photo? No. It does not.)

(And does "ritual" have anything to do with my one-little-word for the year? Not on the surface. Although I'll probably find some connection. Because that's what tends to happen.)


I've decided to explore . . . ritual. And, so far, here at the beginning of my exploration, I'm asking a lot of questions. Yesterday, I decided it might be interesting - and maybe even fun - to throw a few questions out into the universe and see what YOU think.

So here are a few basic questions I'm asking myself right now, as I get started down this "ritual" path. I'd really like to know what you think, so I'm hoping you'll share your thoughts in the comments.

When you hear the word "ritual," what do you think?
How is a "ritual" different from a "habit?"
Or is it???

And there you have it.
A few questions . . . on a (cold and snowy) Monday morning.


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It's truly ironic that you would post this today because I have been thinking A LOT about rituals, habits, and routines lately. My focus has been more on routines, though. Mostly I've been considering how sometimes a routine can feel like a rut . . . until it gets taken away and then you long for it to come back. Maybe, just maybe, we should reconsider and instead of using the word routine we should use the word ritual for those things we do over and over again. Ritual sounds important and sacred, something that should be honored and revered, it holds none of the connotation of boredom that the word routine does.


I am nodding reading Carole's thoughts... yes, ritual turns my mind to sacred things... and as I get ready to begin another Lenten journey, I am thinking about how those very rituals have changed so dramatically in a year and now they seem very normal. I am not sure that is a good thing.


Interesting questions! For me, a ritual is something I repeat (actions, celebrations, or even just saying words) but it means something. When the boys were little I waited with them at the bus stop and it felt like kind of a big thing as the bus pulled away. I started saying a prayer for them and I felt like I had sent them off to school in the best way I knew. (There is nothing religious about it; I just call it a prayer for lack of a better label.) I still say it when I see Justin's taillights flash at the end of the driveway, and I even say it if Ryan tells me he is going somewhere. I also have a ritual that I do when knitting something for someone else. It's just words that I say to myself while I knit, but it helps me and I hope it helps them. A routine is something I do without really thinking about it - brushing my teeth, setting the table, doing dishes, etc. Maybe meditative, but there isn't a lot of meaning behind it. (Now I'm wondering if I could make more of my routines into rituals, and I'm also wondering if I should!)


Hi Kym

Agreeing with everything everyone has commented. for me, rituals are be be looked forward have meaning, depth. Routines are the general every day things that we/I do. Nothing really sacred about them, though they can - as Bonny points out - be meditative and that's a good thing. Kneading dough for bread is very meditative for me, but I consider it a routine when I make bread.


To me a ritual has spiritual connotations.

Routine is something you do regularly with thought.

Habit is something you without thinking about it. Habit can be a good habit or a bad habit. Routine is something, hopefully, you plan for the good.


I can't do anything here except nod in agreement! A ritual (to me) is absolutely something more special and meaningful. Now I'm off to look up the three different definitions...habit, routine, ritual!


Oh, boy. This is one of my very favorite topics/concepts, and I can't wait to hear the richness that comes from your digging. I sort of marinate in ritual. Different from habit or routine--which are actions (for me, that's flossing after I brush my teeth)--ritual is built from a sacred intention. So, in my days, making pourover coffee at 2pm and connecting with Troy for 15 dedicated minutes, that's our ritual--not our routine. It's a 'secular communion,' you might say. I think any single action can be a routine/habit for one person--and yet a ritual for another. (Something like filling birdfeeders in the morning or taking a garden walk with a hot cup of coffee. For some it's a chore or an inquiry; for another, ritual.) And if I can add....I would say I'm a person deeply rooted in ritual--so I actually thought it a rather direct connection to your word! Enjoy the digging, and what a gorgeous photo.


I agree with the thoughts above - rituals differs from habits because of the meaning that is attached. Often, but not necessarily spiritual. Also, I think rituals might occur by occasion or at certain times. So rituals like, say baptism, might happen only once in someone's life. While if you do something habitually, you might do it daily, weekly, or seasonally. At our house, I suspect a cup of tea in the evening is a habit. But reading aloud together, when our children were young, was a ritual.

Gale Z

I love this question. Maybe a ritual is an elevated routine. Or a routine that brings you joy/meaning or has intention along with the action.
Definitely going to be thinking about this today!


I've never really contemplated this before, but you've gotten me thinking. Habit feels personal to me, whereas ritual is more communal. Like many other commenters, ritual has a spiritual or religious connotation to me. Often a ritual is something we do because we've always done it, and oftentimes we may not know the why behind it. In contrast, I think habits are often conscious choices. I'm thinking more now about whether a habit can be/become a ritual and vice versa.


Well, I've been thinking about this and thought I had come up with an answer while I was brushing my teeth this morning, but after reading all these comments... I'll be thinking about this some more!! Ha.

FWIW, my thought this morning was that a ritual (or a routine) can often consist of a series of habits. (I was at the brushing my teeth part of my morning routine... not quite a ritual, I guess.) (And also thought that I should look up the definitions.)


Great question and thoughtful comments. I will be thinking about this one for awhile. Need to puzzle it out a bit more before I am ready to respond.


My daily ritual starts when I scoop my morning tea into the strainer with a special wooden spoon, a spoon that has served me for many years of daily tea making. I only use this spoon for my morning tea. When I lift the steeped tea to my lips I slow down my mind, take in the teas aroma, its warmth, and its delicious flavor. I close my eyes, grateful for this daily ritual, the chance to breath in the quietness of morning, and the warmth of the liquid gold I take into my body. I'm grateful for all I have in this moment. It may sound corny, but it is the only ritual I have in my daily life, a ritual I have come to cherish.


I LOVE the blue willow (and the orange) and got distracted :-) and of course loving that I can come in to the comment thread a bit late and agreeing about ritual = routine + meaning. Also, I want to share Margene's tea ritual (which might work for me since I'm 2 hours ahead of her and could've already had my coffee :-) ... it sounds amazing. on a more serious note, some of the spiritual rituals in my life have been absent these past 11/12 months. communion especially. and tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. I can do some things at home by myself, but some things just need to be done in community, and I am struggling a bit with making the meaning real if the ritual isn't the same. thank you for the thoughtful prompt.


Ritual to me means mindfulness - from Catholic liturgy to Japanese tea ceremonies to yoga sessions. As a child I was often comforted by the color changes in the priest’s vestments throughout the year, part of the ritual of the Mass. Green, the color of hope, particularly stands out even today. Certainly an example of mindfulness. Habit is probably mostly mind- which is good when, mindlessly we brush our teeth every night (otherwise we wouldn’t do it!) but bad if we smoke, or eat our daily ration of potato chips. And of course habits can always be ritualized. I remember the days of monogrammed cigarette cases, silver lighters and gorgeous crystal ashtrays.


Habit is probably mind-LESS (and I read this over TWICE). Also, that orange is sending me scurrying over to the grocery store. Dryness cracks in my fingers discourage me from buying oranges these days. ..Also I have a HABIT of eating a daily apple instead.


Rituals vs habits - for me the difference is spiritual? Or soul-based? Habits are for bettering me in tangible or at least describable maybe even measurable ways, but rituals are for the soul. The intangible, the personal, internal or god(dess), earth connected ways that change occurs are what bring me to rituals. Does it connect me to my soul-beliefs? Does it have no real measure of success? then I probably think of it as a ritual.
Additional ritual connected things - does it happen in a specific place or time?
I know many things straddle the ritual vs habit line and some actually move from one side the other over time, but that's where I draw the line I guess


I think ritual is a series of actions done with mindful awareness. Habits are actions that become rote without much thought.

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