What is the difference between a ritual and a habit?

Both a ritual and habit are done repeatedly, but a habit is something you do unconsciously and a ritual is something you do intentionally. The habit tends to be the action itself (for example, smoking), whereas the ritual is about the meaning behind the action (you have a cigarette when you feel stressed to relax you).

There are no right or wrong ways to make a ritual - it is about finding something that works for you that helps provide you with some meaning for your intention behind the action. For example, if you want to feel more confident, you may create a ritual of taking 10 deep breaths, and striking a power pose before any important meeting (probably in the toilet or behind a closed door somewhere!); or if you have the intention to feel more calmness during your day, you may decide to take 5 minutes to move away from your desk, and make a cup of tea in your favourite mug, and sit and stare out of the window at the leaves on the trees. It doesn’t matter what the actions are, as long as they have meaning for you and support the intention behind them.


My morning ritual

I want to share with you my morning ritual that sets me up for a great day by giving me a focused start that is on my agenda, that nourishes by body, mind and spirit, and gives thanks to the good that is already in my life:  

  1. I follow Mel Robbins advice from the 5 Second Rule and get out of bed when my alarm goes off to start my day with a bang!

  2. I drink a glass of water to start my internal system working.

  3. I write in my journal at least 10 things I’m grateful for so I’m starting the day on a positive and with gratitude. (I normally take this opportunity to reflect on the previous day and recall all the amazing things, big and small, I want to say thanks for - it becomes like a stream of consciousness for me.)

  4. I set one [specific] intention for the day ahead and write it down so I have a focus for my day.

  5. I exercise - whether it is a 30 minute run or a HIIT workout or yoga practice in my living room to keep myself healthy and my energy high (and also because I know I am rubbish at exercising at the end of the day!)

  6. I eat breakfast to feed by body and start my metabolism for the day.

  7. I shower to wash away the old and start the day clean and fresh.


Before and after

Before I started doing this ritual, my mornings tended to be a series of unhelpful habits - I pressed the snooze button umpteen times; when I eventually got up I was in a state of panic that I was late. I then proceeded to spend way too much time checking facebook and seeing what everyone else had been up to (and often then feeling bad that I hadn’t been up to much myself). I made a coffee before jumping in the shower feeling rushed and unorganised, and cursing myself for running late again, promising myself that next week (not even the next day!) I would start a different routine. And this continued, until I made the above a ritual (thank you Mel Robbins!) - with the purpose to organise myself and set myself up to have the best day possible, everyday.

So this mornings ritual looked like this for me:

  1. I got out of bed when the alarm went off at 5.30am (I still find this difficult but I wake up quicker and feel less groggy than when I hit the snooze button)

  2. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water and then upstairs to my office to write in my journal

  3. My gratitude journal entry for today is -

    I’m grateful for:

    • Alex - I love that man so much!

    • Airplanes

    • Alex ordering ice with his Irn Bru and giving me the ice to chill my Coke

    • Exploring by myself

    • Belfast Botanic Gardens - they are so beautiful and the rose garden is huge!

    • Walking past City Hall on Armed Forces day, hearing the marching band and seeing the processions

    • Putting ice cubes in a hot water bottle to cool down the bed

    • Time sat in the airport with Alex reading

    • Finishing You are a Badass (again) and doing the exercises

    • The air conditioned hotel room

    • Water (for drinking, showering, watering the garden)

    • Seeing butterflies everywhere - the billboard advert at the airport, on jewellery, on tshirts, in our garden

    • Sitting in our garden to think/meditate/cool down as the sun went down

    • Scones

  4. I wrote in my journal:

    • My intention for the day is to enjoy the time with my parents and be fully present to listen and participate in conversations.

  5. I went for a 2 mile walk/run up to the roundabout and back to my home which took 27 minutes

  6. I ate some yogurt for breakfast and drank a nettle tea

  7. I showered using my favourite coconut scented products, whilst listening to ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen

And I did have a great day today! The sun was shining, I gave a hug to a stranger, I laughed, I danced, I drank coffee and ate cake, I conversed with my wonderful parents, I listened to the tales of their recent holiday, I marvelled at their photos, I appreciated the time, energy and space I had.

I know not every day is going to be this perfect, but a good morning ritual, I believe, will set you up in the best way possible to be open and receptive to the best the day has to offer, and to see the good that is available to you.

Rituals are unique and I know what works for me, won’t necessarily work for you, and vice versa, but I do love hearing and reading about your rituals. It is through reading and sharing ideas, that I created my own morning ritual, either by using the ideas that resonated with me, or adapting and adding things that I knew would add more value, for me. Please feel free to share your rituals and how they support your intentions in the comments below, or drop me an email at lindsey@lindseyhood.net.

Lindsey HoodComment