I’m a big believer in rituals. Little things like my morning coffee or an evening walk can make all the difference in how I feel.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they can hold the key to a happy life. Do you know why?
Because having a ritual means that you’re proactive, and that ability translates to happiness beyond the moment.
It’s no coincidence that the happiest women among us often have their own set of daily rituals. Instead of just waiting around for good vibes to hit, they create an environment for happiness to flourish.
If you’re looking for ways to have some of that joy in your life, you don’t have to start big. The best rituals are often the simplest ones.
Here are 9 daily rituals that have worked for me:
1) Gratitude journaling
I can’t emphasize enough how much morning gratitude journaling has transformed my mornings – and by extension, my entire day.
Plenty of research backs up the benefits of gratitude journaling, especially in terms of happiness. According to Positive Psychology, this practice:
- Reduces stress
- Increases optimism
- Boosts life satisfaction
- Results in better sleep
- Changes the brain
I repeat – changes the brain. I mean, that’s a real, measurable effect!
I do this while I’m having my morning coffee, but it’s up to you when you want to do it. Some women like to do it at the end of the day so they can end on a positive note, no matter how horrible their day has been.
The point is to sit and jot down at least three things you’re grateful for. It’s especially soothing for those days when you feel defeated by life and could do with a little “brain-changing”, if you know what I mean.
2) Setting intentions or goals
After my gratitude journaling, I like to set my intentions or goals for the day.
Why? To feel a sense of purpose, which, by the way, is another key to happiness.
According to an American Psychological Association study, having personal goals increases your sense of well-being and satisfaction.
It gives you something to strive for, a sense of direction that meshes perfectly with the positive tone you’ve set through your morning gratitude ritual.
3) Mindfulness and meditation
With all the buzz mindfulness and meditation get these days, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of them.
A lot of people scoff at the idea, dismissing it as some New Age concept that’s out of touch with reality.
As someone who incorporates this in her daily ritual, can I say, that’s just so wrong. In fact, contrary to what people think, the ultimate goal of any mindfulness and meditation practice is to connect us to reality.
For me, I find that it grounds me and helps me be more aware of my thoughts coming and going. I can then more easily detect when I’m sliding into a negative thought pattern and guard myself better against self-defeating statements.
In the long run, it has helped me become more resilient and emotionally balanced. And most of all, to be more present. All of which round up to a happier outlook in life!
4) Regular exercise
Naturally, the happiest women know just how important it is to take care of their physical health as well. It’s hard to stay happy when you’ve got aches all over and you’re often sick, after all.
Not only that, but the very act of exercising itself literally makes you happy. Okay, maybe not while you’re doing it, especially if you’re coming from a couch-potato lifestyle like I did.
But afterwards…oh, afterwards, it feels so good! Partly because of the endorphins exercise releases, and partly because of a sense of accomplishment.
5) Healthy eating
So, you’ve got those endorphins going, right? You’re feeling good and ready to take on the day.
But – you can’t run on endorphins alone. The food you eat needs to carry you through.
That’s why the happiest women make wise food choices that nourish their bodies.
And mind you, they don’t wolf it down like starving teenage boys. They do mindful eating.
What exactly is that? Well, it’s actually part of the practice of mindfulness. You take the time to really savor each bite and appreciate the textures and flavors, like a judge on a cooking show.
Actually, we could take a note from the French, who have such a healthy relationship with food. Not only do they do mindful eating and take their sweet time with every meal, but they also listen to their body’s signals for fullness.
Thus, they generally don’t struggle with food-related issues like overeating and emotional eating.
6) Connect with loved ones
Social connection is something that the happiest women take to heart. They make it a point to touch base with the most important people in their lives, no matter how busy they are.
This practice is closely linked to happiness. In fact, “good social relationships are the most consistent predictor of a happy life,” according to Stanford Medicine.
7) Digital detoxing
Let’s face it, our phones are now practically part of our bodies. I myself have fallen into the trap of wanting to stay connected 24/7. In fact, a nasty habit I used to have was to check my phone the minute I opened my eyes.
The thing is, that constant connection comes at a cost. Research shows that too much time in the digital world makes us more anxious, less focused, and – ironically – lonelier.
That’s why the happiest women (myself included) make sure to unplug for a set period each day.
Instead of mindlessly scrolling through my phone, for example, I do offline activities like:
- Taking a walk with my dog
- Read a book
- Paint or draw
- Cooking or baking
It’s completely up to you what to replace a chunk of your phone time with. Find something that feels calming and grounding so you can be more balanced.
8) Acts of kindness
This one’s really more of a general habit than a ritual, but it bears mentioning just the same.
You see, acts of kindness are powerful in making us happier. Helping others, just like gratitude journaling, promotes real changes in the part of the brain that’s linked to happiness.
That’s one of the reasons why the happiest women are the way they are. They’ve figured out that kindness is a double dose of happiness – one for the other person, and one for them.
So build kindness into your daily ritual. Make it a habit to respond when someone needs help or just a listening ear. Not only will your brain light up in happiness, but you’d be creating a ripple effect, too!
9) Evening wind-down ritual
Finally, what do you do as bedtime nears? This period of the day deserves just as much attention as the morning.
For me, my ritual looks like this:
About a half hour of reading (with a cup of tea) → light stretching → A warm bath → lights out.
Again, it’s up to you to choose a ritual that works to calm you down. The goal is to send your mind and body the message that it’s time to relax and sleep.
Does it really make one happy?
Yes! Because it gives us better sleep quality, which then makes us feel recharged when we wake up.
Looking at this list, the path to happiness seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? But the truth is, it takes a lot of intentionality, consistency, and mindfulness.
Like I said earlier, it’s all about being proactive. Hopefully, incorporating a few of these rituals into your daily life would prove as effective for you as they have been for me.
As long as you’re consistent, there’s no reason why you can’t become one of the happiest women yourself!