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This time of the year many peoples’ lives are filled with family and community traditions. Tradition can provide us with a sense of continuity, connection to our past and to each other. These are all wonderful things.
However, tradition has an aspect that can hold us back in life. Tradition can become habitual, unquestioned thinking. Sometimes empowered people have to stop and ask the simple question, “Why?”
Habits – in our thoughts and in our actions – are a kind of tradition. When we want to make changes in our lives we have to first become consciously aware of the habit and then consciously choose to make the change.
There is a little story that illustrates how unconscious we can become in our traditions/habits.
Sarah was watching her mother prepare a holiday ham. The mother, as she always did, cut one inch off the end of the ham before sticking it in the oven.
Sarah asked, “Mommy, why do you always cut an inch off a ham before you stick it in the oven?”
The mother thought for a moment and replied, “I don’t know. My mother always cut an inch off the ham before she put it in the oven. Let’s ask her.”
So the mother calls the grandmother on the phone asks, “Mom, I’m making a ham and Sarah wants to know why I always cut an inch off. I told her that you always did. Why do you do that?”
The grandmother answered, “I don’t know. My mother always did it.”
Finally, the three of them make a conference call to the great grandmother. The grandmother asks, “Mom why do you cut an inch off the ham when you cook it?”
The great grandmother says, “Oh, dear, I haven’t done that in years. I used to do that when you were a little girl because the oven we had in our apartment was too small to fit a ham.”
The moral of the story is that traditions can become unconscious when people simply follow and don’t stop to ask why. Originally, there was a very practical reason for cutting the inch off the ham. That reason had long since vanished. Yet, two generations had continued to make hams that way because no one stopped to ask why.
Be conscious of your habits and traditions so that you can keep the ones that add to your life and abandon those that keep you stuck in a rut.
“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”