Patterns and Habits, Routines and Ruts

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.

Happy Saturday!

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.


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