Mindfulness and Motivation: A Process View Using Self-Determination Theory

Richard M. Ryan, James N. Donald, Emma L. Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Mindfulness and motivation are both highly researched topics of great consequence for individual and social wellness. Using the lens of self-determination theory, we review evidence indicating that mindfulness is differentially related to different types of motivations, playing a facilitating role for highly autonomous forms of motivation, but not for externally controlled or introjected (self-controlling) forms of motivation. A key contribution of this review is our contention that mindfulness confers a range of intra- and interindividual benefits (e.g., well-being and prosociality) in part through its relation to autonomous motivations, a claim for which we outline preliminary evidence. Finally, we discuss how future research connecting mindfulness and motivation is important for both fields of study, for applied practices in areas such as psychotherapy and business, and for enhancing understanding of the processes underlying human wellness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2021

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© The Author(s) 2021.


  • autonomy
  • mindfulness
  • motivation
  • self-determination theory


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