Simple, but consistent rituals in the morning and evening can help you bring more mindfulness and positivity to your day
Your actions are your only true belongingsAllan Lokos
We all have holiday or special occasion rituals, but done on a daily basis, rituals can be an opportunity to be more mindful and align with what you value most.
Instituting a daily ritual is a way to deliberately create an opening for practicing mindfulness and what you want to be front and center for your life.
Creating a ritual establishes a routine that soon becomes familiar, and eventually turns into a habit. Rituals are activities you do in the same way each time you do them. Ideally, a daily ritual is done the same time every day. Your first and last waking moments are ideal times for establishing daily rituals so you begin and end your day intentionally being mindful.
Morning Daily Rituals
The morning can be the most negative time of day for many people. In fact, research shows that the stress hormone cortisol typically peaks 30 minutes after waking.
Having an uplifting ritual as the first thing you do can set the tone for your day.
Below are some examples to start your day mindfully.
- Map out the sequence of your day in your mind’s eye and see your day working out just the way you want it to.
- Make your first spoken words of the day something positive, supportive or caring.
- Start your day by thinking about what you have to look forward to, and if there isn’t anything add something to your day that you enjoy.
- At the beginning of each day make a wish for a specific positive outcome that day.
- Think of someone you care about who could use a little support and do some small act of kindness. If you can’t do it in person, do it via skype, email or text.
Starting your day by doing something for another person who may be going through a rough patch is a way to get your day off to a kind-hearted start. Recently one of my dear friends had a serious bout of depression and so my morning ritual before I started my workday was to find something uplifting, inspiring, encouraging, or funny to include in a text I sent to her every morning. I did this for 49 days — until she told me she finally was coming out of her “dark night of the soul.” It took me only a minute or two, but she keeps telling me how much that little act of kindness meant to her.
If you’re like me, you probably seem to always have someone in your close circle who could use a boost. You may want to do what I did.
I started a folder on my smartphone I labeled my “inspiration” folder.
It has in it what I sent to my friend plus others I’ve been collecting. I now have more than 100 inspiring quotes and other items I can flip through and usually find something just right for whatever challenge someone I care about may be facing.
Evening Daily Rituals
With the constant influx of negative news from the media, establishing an evening ritual can serve as a clearing to offset accumulated negativity. Through a nightly ritual you can recover from the demands of daily living. It’s akin to resetting your inner compass so you can return tomorrow with a recharged battery. It also ensures that your last thoughts are positive ones.
End your day by taking a little time to appreciate the gifts the day brought and prime your subconscious mind for pleasant dreams.
Here are some ways to end your day mindfully.
- Scan your day and make a mental list of all the things you are grateful for that happened today.
- Recount your day on a positive note by appreciating any kind deeds or gestures you received.
- Acknowledge yourself for the things you did today to help others. Take a minute to think about the ways you contributed to the well-being of your family members, co-workers, community, or the world at large.
- Establish a nightly dinner ritual where you pose a question that generates a feel-good emotion, a mindful version of How was your day? One rendition is to rotate among family members or dining mates where everyone takes his or her turn for a night posing a question that engenders a mindful response. This is an uplifting alternative to the usual complaining about all of the hassles you had and who ticked you off. Here are a few options:
What was the best thing that happened to you today?
What put a smile on your face today?
What kindness did someone do for you today?
What kind deed did you witness today?
What did you do to make someone else’s day better?
- At the end of the day compile an “I did it” list instead of the usual “to do” list for the next day. Take a moment to appreciate all you accomplished.
I’m someone who had always kept an impossibly long daily “to do” list and dutifully transferred whatever wasn’t done (which typically was a lot!) to the next day’s list. Now, one of my nightly rituals is to do a mental scan of my day and compile an “I did it” list in my head. It feels so much better to be spotlighting what I did get done rather than what I failed to do. Try it and you’ll surprise yourself with all you actually get done in a day.
You may also enjoy reading The Importance of Intention to Create Freedom and Aliveness by Carter Miles