How little rituals can increase mindfulness

Rituals have been proven to reduce anxiety, boost confidence, and increase the amount of joy and meaning we experience in our day-to-day lives.

The notion of self-improvement and change is often associated with building good habits; making repeated, healthy decisions results in positive habits and therefore supports self-improvement, right? Well, yes and no. Sure, waking up and brushing your teeth every morning is a good habit and will support a healthy lifestyle, but if you’re interested in making bigger, more substantial changes, the logic and functionality that motivate good habits usually aren’t enough to motivate large changes.

That’s where emotion and meaning come in. It’s going to be hard to sustain any kind of change for a long period of time if our heart isn’t in it. Rituals are an excellent way to inject a bit of heart into the otherwise mundane, heart-breaking, or overwhelming. Rituals allow us to feel more deeply connected to the areas of life and ourselves that we wish to change in some way.

You’ll see similar results in people who walk into an interview with their lucky socks on, tennis players who perform the same movements and sounds before every serve, and those who steep and drink a cup of their favourite tea at the end of a stressful day. Whether you’re trying to boost confidence, calm anxiety, or centre yourself, rituals have a positive influence across the board.

While some may lean on rituals as a means of healing or good fortune, other people may wish to incorporate rituals simply to help them lead a more mindful existence. That looks a bit different to each of us, so here are three ways rituals can increase mindfulness in various areas of your life.

  • Increased appreciation: Something as small as toasting before a drink, or high-fiving before a big presentation, can force you to take a second to appreciate an experience. It adds meaning to the otherwise mundane, and gives us an extra opportunity to be grateful for the little moments.
  • They strengthen a sense of community: Religion is a prime example of rituals bonding a group of people and enriching their experiences together, as is chanting together at a protest or reciting the same cheer at a sports game. We’re forced to come out of our own little worlds and appreciate familiarity in those around us, whether we’ve met them before or not.
  • They motivate action: Writers throughout history had rituals to ensure their books got finished. Writing every day, no matter what the words are is a ritual that can be adapted to most professions. Work-related rituals encourage productivity, give meaning to your task list, and make even the slower moments of the day more purposeful.