- May 17, 2010
Yes, a great album by Jane’s Addiction circa 1990 (and yes, it was really THAT long ago)…but the two words, “ritual” and “habitual” are really the impetus for this post.
The concept of a ritual, stripped of any cult or religious designation, is basically something done the same way, over and over. It’s usually symbolic in nature. For example, in the United States we have the built in ritual of shaking hands with people when we meet them. In other countries this same act is seen as a threatening gesture. We all have rituals that we perform, and we are generally conscious of these efforts. Some people have the ritual of a Friday gathering with friends over beers.
Rituals and habits may share some common ground in the psyche, but there is an important distinction between the two.
One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of habit, which I feel best meets the general perception is “a : a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance b : an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary”
While rituals are learned responses which we are cognizant of, and perhaps create out of enjoyment, it seems habits take time to develop, and that eventually may be performed involuntarily–sometimes even though we know it’s wrong (i.e. smoking). It is therefore important to distinguish between good habits and bad habits. Perhaps even by creating rituals based around good habits (i.e. I worked out today so I’m going to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner).
The formation of positive rituals and habits are what make the most success people in the world successful. And by successful, I mean whatever describes their success. Generally it’s linked to a sense of accomplishment coupled with a sense of happiness. However you describe success, creating rituals and good habits are an important step towards achieving that end.
What are your habits? Your rituals? How do you distinguish between the two?