On Fridays at my office, one person makes a presentation around a randomly chosen topic. This week, my friend spoke to us about patterns. After she spoke, the room engaged in a conversation about patterns vs. habits. It clearly stuck with me and as the weekend begun, I also started wondering about routines and ruts.
Pattern: the regular and repeated way in which something happens or is done
Habit: a usual way of behaving; something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way
I think the distinction here is that all habits are patterns but not all patterns are habits. Like all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.
Routine: a regular way of doing things in a particular order
Rut: a usual or fixed practice; especially, a monotonous routine
My daughter has been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum. She responds very well to routines. We make sure to do things, every night, in a certain order. It’s calming for her – it allows her brain to focus on more important things. Breaking the routine makes her nervous, upset. Keeping the routine makes for a smoother day – allowing new things to be introduced.
But when do routines become ruts. I have the strangest things become ruts – treats. When my husband was my boyfriend, we lived above a deli. They served the most amazing cappuccino muffins. After a couple of random purchases, I started buying them once a week. Once a week became twice and three times. And then I realized I wasn’t even enjoying them anymore. The treat had become an expectation and in so doing, became boring. It was now a pattern – I bought them, ate them but hardly even experienced them. Until I realized my thighs were experiencing exactly what was going on. Pattern broken.
The magic is finding that sweet spot – where you want to maintain the good habits, repeat the healthy patterns. Wake up every day at 6AM (routine), practice yoga (pattern) but not the same sequence every time (avoiding a rut). Have a healthy salad for lunch every day (good pattern) but not a chicken caesar from Chop’t every day – which quickly becomes boring and is augmented by a cookie.
I wasn’t able to go to my Bikram class today but I kept the exercise pattern by taking a Flywheel class instead, taught by Danny Zapata – who I took class with last week. While I miss my Saturday/Sunday Bikram classes (my husband’s work schedule has changed of late) I am glad I still get to have that time to workout. And hope to get back to the preferred pattern soon.
The picture is of me, and my daughter, when she was just a small rabbit. We are indulging in a pattern of our own. After I went to Bikram on the weekends she and I would go to the playground (which we haven’t done in a while). This is a pattern that needs to stage a comeback.