I’ve been thinking about practices, habits and routines. How are they different? Are they different? How are they similar? Each contributes to who we are, who we become and how we spend our days.
Two quotes that come to me often are “How you do anything is how you do everything,” and “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
But habit gets a bad rap, rightfully so. It’s easy to slip into bad habits and they are hard to break. I also believe that good habits come from practice and practices are filled with intention. We envision who and how we wish to be and put practices in place that support those intentions. Done often enough, they become habits and perhaps routine.
Practices are intentional whereas habit and routine can ultimately become less mindful. And I think that is where we must continue to cultivate new practices that support our good habits so they stay meaningful.
Let me explain.
I have seven distinct practices that are part of my every day: reading, creating, embodiment practice, writing/journaling, movement, gratitude and prayer. I attempt to fit all of these practices into each day, not always at the same time and sometimes for different durations, but each are intentional activities that give my life meaning. Each contribute to my life’s work as a human on this planet. Each of them help me feel whole and nourish my soul.
I also have ‘rules’ that I don’t consider practices but that help me be who I want to be each day: morning email only after writing in my gratitude journal, no television or music during that majority of each day (I concentrate better in silence) and four calendar items max each day. These rules provide a lot of peace and allow me to focus on the practices that feed me.
Some other habits that I enjoy each day that aren’t necessarily rules and that I definitely don’t consider practices include waking up at a particular time, drinking hot tea as part of my morning ritual, enjoying a glass of wine with dinner and going to bed at a particular hour. It occurs to me that most of these habits have become routine and that that’s not necessarily a bad thing but that I could add more intention to each.
What do you think? Do you have practices that are non-negotiable? Practices that move the needle toward who you want to be and how you move in the world each day? And what about habits and routines? Have you ever thought about it?