Why Do You Do What You Do?

Roast leg of ham
Credit: Digital Vision

I recall a story about a woman baking a ham for her family during the holidays. Every year as part of her holiday meal preparations, she made a ham, and she always cut off both ends of the ham before putting it into the baking pan. Her daughter saw this as a girl year after year, and when she grew up and had a family of her own, she did the same thing–she prepared a ham and cut off both ends of it before placing it in the oven.

One day her little girl saw this and asked, “Why do you cut off both ends of your ham before you put it in the oven?”

The woman replied, “I don’t know… it’s something your Gramma always did, and so I do it too.” But it got her thinking. She called her mother and asked about it: “Mom, why do you always cut off both ends of a ham before baking it?”

She said, “Oh… I used to do that a long time ago when we only had one pan. That pan wasn’t big enough, so I always had to cut the ham to make it fit.”


Cutting off the ends of a ham is little more than a waste– it doesn’t have a big effect on the world, but what about some of your habits or beliefs? Do you do, think, or hold a certain opinion about something just because someone else you like or admire does?

Do you blindly follow a tradition that is meaningless to you? Do you celebrate a holiday or anniversary of an event that you do not fully understand, or that has lost its meaning sometime since your childhood?

Do you continue to follow and implement rules in your organization or church because “that’s the way it’s always been done”?

If so, there’s no logic to why– you do it “just because.” But if you always do what you’ve always done, is that progress?

Do you know why you do the things you do?


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