The difference between Ritual and Routine
June 1, 2011 2 Comments
It seems to me, rituals can be time consuming and dogmatic. There is pressure to conform. Guilt and depression can follow, if not maintained. Due to the strict requirements of the rituals, they are not sustainable for a lengthened period of time. The mind plays tricks with excuses to justify why the ritual could not be fulfilled. The extremes of “all of nothing” show when you make a new attempt to start the rituals after having abandoned them and then give up when 1 ritual is missed. Like starting a low fat diet and doing really well for 2 weeks until someone brings cakes into work and then the whole regime is destroyed, and you end up pigging out on everything you missed for the last 2 weeks. This is Crash and Burn. This is Perfectionism at its most dangerous. Perfectionism is a killer, it is soul-destroying and can strike anywhere. Perfectionism is for example when you want to keep your house not just tidy and clean but “perfect”. I’m talking about every last crumb and every last splash of juice, every last sticky finger mark on the walls (if you have kids you will know!). Trying to achieve the impossible is usually a waste of time; it’s demoralising and makes us beat ourselves up for being failures when things do not end up “perfect”. It is like some kind of psychological illness in my own honest opinion. The problem with Perfectionism is that sometimes the task seems so big, you do not know where to start so you never get started for fear of the failure of not being able to do it “perfectly” or not having the time to do it “properly” – (properly according to whom, we have to ask?). Rituals, like Perfectionism inhibit productivity, require concentration and are stressful. While-ever the ritual is being maintained, there is a danger of arrogance too – the ones who don’t do it the same as you may be considered lazy or not devoted enough. This leads to “poor me” syndrome – the feeling that you are doing all the work and no-one else is. This leads to tension and does not create a good atmosphere. The “One Size fits All” principle from the “ritual” point of view does not really seem to be the case.
Routines on the other hand are flexible. They come from habits established into daily life. They are adaptable. New habits replace old habits or attach onto good habits already established. Habits can become automatic too. It is said that to learn a new habit takes somewhere between 21-30 days. Routines aid organisation and productivity. By setting goals and establishing routines designed to work towards these goals, one has direction and purpose. Routines are not perfect, but they are positive. Routines consist of “Baby Steps” which are continuous, evolving, progressing and are maintainable and sustainable, logical and reasonable. It is probably fair to say that productive people contribute considerably to their families, communities and society at large, by having adaptable routines, schedules, goals and aspirations and a positive attitude.
Without routines, one upside is that we can be spontaneous, and variety is the proverbial spice of life! However without routines for a long period of time, there will inevitably be randomness, and this can lead to chaos. General disorganisation; the mind is less clear, thoughts are scattered. Productivity comes in peaks and troughs, fits and starts. This also leads to “Crash and Burn” seeing as it is another form of the extremes – “All or Nothing” , or having the passion and drive to start projects but not getting them finished due to lack of focus or discipline or indeed motivation.
Having routines is a middle path between the 2 extremes of Ritual and Random Chaos
I see a sliding scale between the 2 extremes and routines can even be towards the Ritualistic side of the scale or towards the Random Chaos side. Different routines throughout the day may require different levels of Routine Intensity. For example, my Morning Routine works best if it is performed more towards the ritual end of the scale, seeing as I have a list of tasks that really need to be done in order for the day to run smoothly. Other routines I have are less stringent as tasks can be shuffled and adapted to suit requirements (and the weather) 🙂