Crafting Wellness: Habits, Routines, and Rituals Part 1

hands planting seeds in the dirt

We hear a lot about habits and routines. Rituals are a little more mysterious. These practices can be an important part of living “well”. Let's explore the differences between habits, routines, and rituals. As I contemplated how to explain this, the image of a garden came to mind.

Look for Part II in the next newsletter where I share an approach to crafting your own rituals out of habits and routines.

Habits: The Seeds

James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, defines a habit as a "behavior that is performed regularly and, in many cases, automatically." Habits are the building blocks of our daily lives, which become automated behaviors formed through repetition. Habits can be created consciously or unconsciously and can be helpful or harmful to our wellness. It’s important to examine your habits like a garden with newly planted seeds. Distinguish the weeds from the seeds and pull them quickly before they grow too deep. Creating helpful habits can be hard at first and will take a good amount of energy and concentration to successfully ingrain them into your life.

A single habit starts with a small action, like taking a morning walk. You want to move more, be healthy, and get time outside. As we consistently incorporate healthy habits and practices into our daily activities, routines are built.

Routines: The Gardens

Routines are the structured sequences of activities that bring order to our days. They involve consciously designed actions to achieve specific goals, offering a framework for our daily activities.

As a habit becomes a consistent part of our routine, it gains significance and permanence. For instance, that morning walk transforms from a mere habit to a deliberate part of a waking-up routine. For example, “Every morning I get up, drink water, take a short walk, see the morning sun, eat, and get ready for work.” The walk is now a non-negotiable part of the time I give to my morning routine. The various habits/seeds grow together to become a routine like the various seeds become a garden.

Rituals: The Sacred Space

Rituals are symbolic, intentional activities imbued with deeper meaning and connection. Rituals fill our souls with wellness. They transcend the mundane, infusing our actions with purpose and mindfulness. When a routine takes on a special significance, an activity becomes more than just a health benefit, it evolves into a ritual. For example, that morning walk, now a deliberate part of your waking-up routine, may transform into a ritual of calming yourself, connecting to God, your partner, friend, or your dog. Rituals make us well and allow those routines to fill us up instead of dragging us down. They are the moments we can’t live without, which align with our values, our identity, and our purpose. The garden isn’t just beautiful or fruitful, it becomes a sacred space for us to find joy.

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