On Habits, Rituals, Routines, Traditions and Taboos

July 4, 2017 with Uncle Derek and Lucas

July 5, 2017

Dearest Solomon,

It is the day after Independence Day, one of the few days that America takes a deep breath to relax and, sometimes, reflect. We spent the day with our friends the Overbeys. It is the second year in a row — last year you were crawling on a blanket, this year terroririzing the dog.

As I dropped you to daycare today, I thought how happy this new, little tradition has become and the importance of traditions in general.

In life, there are at least 5 kinds of things that you will do regularly (I have to think on this more in case I am missing something). If I can, let me summarize them this way.

  • Habits — these are the things we do without even knowing that we do them
  • Rituals — these are things we choose to do for our personal experience
  • Routines — these are things we choose to do for our personal or shared experience
  • Traditions — these are things we choose to do, with others, for our shared experience
  • Taboos — these are things we definitely choose not to do

Let me illustrate these with some examples from our life.

  • Habit — I bite my nails, I know it’s bad
  • Ritual — I turn on music and put on headphones when I need to focus
  • Routine — I get up at 4am daily to check email, read, and write before going to the gym at 5am
  • Tradition — we take a trip with your grandma and grandpa for one of their birthdays every year
  • Taboo — checking a bag at the airport

I’m sure you will encounter all of these in your lifetime, son. But as you do, think about this:

  • Find good habits, not bad ones
  • Don’t let your rituals rule you
  • Routines have to be adjusted as life changes
  • Build great traditions early and often
  • Don’t fear the past, embrace it

Love Always,
Dad