Rituals, Habits, or Traditions?


Posted on 4/3/2017 by Mark Hutchinson
"Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man."
- Benjamin Franklin

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."
- Zig Ziglar


The word tradition is defined as passing customs or beliefs from generation to generation. I was also considering the words ritual and habit. Often these last two words are used to describe those frequent activities that make up what we do and, perhaps even, who we are.

The daily effort it takes to make the choices we want to make and balance the challenges that confront us is not inconsequential. So I wanted to talk about what we do each day to improve ourselves, but the word habit takes it further than a conscious effort. Habit suggests that it is already built in. Ritual isn’t quite the right word either as it is heavily colored by religion and perhaps overtones of compulsive behaviors.

So, even though tradition is not entirely the correct word, I do like some of the ideas that come along with it for our purpose today. Here is my question for you:

What are your personal, daily traditions?


Possibly you have family traditions, like going to the mountains in the winter, or gathering for dinner at Thanksgiving. If you missed it one year, it wouldn’t suddenly disappear from your family traditions would it? Yet each year it is on your radar. You’ll remember it and put it on your list of things to do because it is one of your family traditions. These are not quite as rigid as habits and not necessarily attached to religious belief.

What if you saw your positive daily choices as personal traditions. Not on a yearly scale, but much more frequently. Maybe daily or even hourly.

A key piece of this line of thinking is that traditions are things you put conscious thought into and yet are not make-it or break-it affairs.

So if your tradition was to eat food that was healthy for you or going for a walk each day, then you can more easily support your own efforts to improve and enjoy your days. Instead of saying to yourself “I take a walk everyday” it might change to become “My tradition is to take a walk each day.” How would you see yourself in each case on the day you missed taking the walk?

Sometimes when we fail a single time during an effort to improve ourselves, we just give up.
Yet, for traditions you enjoy, you keep coming back to them albeit not always in exactly the same way. Tradition engenders those ideas of thoughtfulness, desire, and some amount of flexibility in the details to keep the spirit of the endeavor alive. Maybe ham this year instead of turkey?

Go ahead and build up some personal traditions that help you become who you want to be and enjoy the journey as well!

Have a great week!

-Mark
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