The pursuit of happiness can seem like chasing an elusive dream but the secret to living a more joy-filled life can be found through mindfully creating and performing rituals.
We all have regular routines that could be defined as rituals or habits – brushing our teeth and making our beds – as well as traditional rituals around life events like weddings, graduations and baptisms, or religious or cultural events where special times and people are celebrated.
It’s easy to connect how traditional ritualistic ceremonies can bring times of great enjoyment but it’s actually the small, mundane everyday tasks that can make the biggest impact on your overall happiness.
What’s the difference between happiness and joy?
Experts have defined happiness as a lengthy sustained feeling, which could also be described as a state of contentedness. Joy, on the other hand, is something more instant and powerful: perhaps a deep welling of emotion, or an intense momentary experience of positive feelings.
I believe that many moments of joy will contribute to a sustained level of happiness, so the trick is to create as many small moments of joy as you can! Joy + joy + joy = happiness!
“You will never change your life, until you change something you do daily.”
– John C Maxwell
How to create joy-filled moments through ritual
Do you think of daily tasks as mundane activities that need to be endured until you get to a more pleasurable part of your day? These activities might include doing the dishes, cooking and cleaning and even exercise. Unfortunately, most of us practice these tasks without thinking (unmindfully) and miss the joy they can bring us if we practice them through the lens of ritual.
Intention is what turns these tasks from merely mundane into beautiful rituals. Here are some of my daily rituals:
Cleansing: There is no doubt of the joy this practice can bring, from the scent of our favourite soap, the music we might listen to as we bathe and being mindfully aware of the process of purification. Here, we can release what no longer serves us and be aware as we wash it away.
Drinking: When I rise, I have a ginger, turmeric and lemon drink in a specific glass. Later in the day, my coffee is sipped from another favourite vessel. My drinks taste better when I drink from these beautiful cups and share the moments with my partner or a friend. I am totally aware of the ritual that is the making of, the sharing of and the enjoyment of this daily practice.
Yoga: My yoga practice is a ritual that encompasses many rituals: lighting candles and incense, unfurling my mat, pausing and breathing to set intentions and manifestations. I love how the light of the candle dances across the room and wafts of incense drift by as I practice.
Cooking: The process of preparing a nourishing meal for yourself or loved ones can be savoured as a joyful ritual. Be aware of the textures, sounds, aromas and taste of the food as you work with it. Fully appreciate every moment and infuse love, positive energy, compassion and kindness into your food and this special practice.
Grounding with rituals
Rituals bring us back to ourselves – they bring us home to own innate goodness, or our Ātman (soul).
The wonderful thing about rituals is that you can take them anywhere with you, so no matter where you are, you can use them to ground yourself when you feel lost, uncertain or fragile.