Make it a Ceremony: How Being Ceremonious Can Add Joy and Meaning to Your Life

Being ceremonious gives meaning to the things we take for granted. This is one of the most popular emails that I have sent to subscribers of my neuroplasticity email list. Learn how to change your neural pathways to create better habits by downloading this guide OR email me at and tell me to put you on the list.

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Do you spend most of your days waiting for / working towards the big things?

I don’t blame you…most of us do it.

Homes, cars, degrees, babies, promotions…those few milestones in life tend to attract our focus and we also use them to mark time.

Our daily activities are defined by these reasons for celebration and that means we most often miss out on enjoying things that aren’t necessarily productive but make life worth living.

By slowing down to fully experience moments -and the moments in between the moments- we can positively impact our happiness and wellbeing; we can pull ourselves out of the habit of relating everything we do to achievement.

This has all kinds of implications for relationships (their strengthening) and life satisfaction (gratitude).

Through ceremonies and rituals, we can reclaim part of our humanity that has been lost due to stress, technology overload, time poverty, and over-consumption.

We don’t have to wait for holidays and new years to put them to practice and we don’t have to be religious.

Here are just a few ideas for ceremonies that will help make you more mindful of the joys of a “normal” day in your life:

  1. Morning Caffeine
    Make your daily dose of caffeine more meaningful by skipping the Starbucks or office coffee pot by performing your own ceremony at home.

Turn on your favorite calming music while preparing your coffee. I tend to go towards music like Buddhist chants, Ravi Shankar, Tycho, Toro y Moi, Four Tet, etc. Keep it peaceful and positive.

You can add some additional flavorings to your coffee like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. These not only have health benefits but they also make pouring yourself a cup of coffee more of a process. You can try this Moroccan coffee recipe.

Some people enjoy using a proper coffee pot and set the timer the night before because they love waking up to the smell of coffee.

Use your favorite mug, treat yourself to higher quality coffee beans, and think about what it took to get those beans from the farm where they were grown to your body. Meditate on the people involved and knowledge required to make your morning coffee a reality.

  1. Exercise
    Carve out some time every day that’s just for you and your well being. Pick a type of exercise that you enjoy. Turn off your phone and give yourself the freedom to check out from the rest of the world for an hour.

Lay your workout clothes out the night before. Make sure the clothes make you feel good, whether it’s the right style, fabric, fit, or color.

Listen to your favorite news show, music, or podcast while you exercise.

There are already some forms of exercise that have ceremony built into them…like yoga, qigong, and tai chi but you can bring ceremony into running, swimming, stretching, and any other form of exercise by simply changing your mindset while you do it.

  1. Shower Meditation
    It has been said that we do some of our best thinking while in the shower. If you like to shower in the morning, use your time to set some intentions for the day. Don’t go through a mental to do list but think about some of the more general things you would like to get from your day like the following:
  • positive interactions with others
  • limiting stress
  • eating healthy
  • finding solutions to something that has been bothering you
  • making time for family
  • doing good and meaningful work

Keep bath products that you love. These products are going onto and into your skin so focus on quality when possible. You’ll enjoy using the products more this way.

When you have time, take a bath instead.

  1. Meals
    Begin to form the habit of slowing down when it comes to eating. Savor the flavor and be thankful for your food.

Choose nutritional food over junk food and stop when you are full.

Cooking and preparing your own meals is one of the best ways to make eating more ceremonious. If you can’t do that due to time constraints or travel, make sure you are purchasing your food from a company you believe in or a company that represents similar values to yours (see #5).

You can find more tips for mindful eating here.

  1. Spending Money
    When we don’t think about where our money goes, we end up supporting things that do not align with our values and beliefs. Most of the time, we are chasing that momentary feeling of elation from purchasing something but we don’t feel good about our purchases in the long term.

Our shopper’s high goes away pretty quickly.

Practice being mindful of how you feel after a purchase. Do you feel guilt? Is there any kind of long term benefit from your purchase? Is your purchase adding to the clutter in your life? Do you already own something similar?

Test your need for your purchase by removing Amazon and online shopping as an option. If you really need it or want it…take yourself to the store to find it.

When combining the focus on enjoyment, true need, values, and supporting a retailer, you’ll find that you skip the wasteful spending and you enjoy what you buy more; you turn a transaction into an experience.

  1. Relationships
    Create opportunities for bonding by sharing your daily activities with a friend, family member, or co-worker.
  • Schedule a recurring weekly lunch with a coworker
  • Have a sit-down dinner with the entire family as often as possible and share recaps of everyone’s day and what they did
  • Take the time to enjoy your morning coffee with your spouse
  • Put it on your calendar to reach out to an old friend once a week, whether it’s through social media, email, or on the phone
  • Ask a friend if they want to join you for your weekend errands to make it more fun
  1. Chores and Household Duties
    Because we spend so much of our lives working, chores and errands feel like additional work piled on an already tight schedule but they are the perfect tasks for building in ceremony to make them more enjoyable and meaningful.
  • Make chores like ironing a ritual by using the time to listen to a new album or podcast while you do it
  • Encourage other members of your household to help and set a reward for completion like a trip to the park or museum, a movie night, a sweet treat, or whatever else is motivation for all involved
  • Make sure everything in your home has a place. You might want to get rid of anything that doesn’t. This makes cleanup faster, easier, and more gratifying. I like to listen to this song sometimes while I clean. 🙂
  • Have a set day of the week for chores or do daily evening tidy up sessions
  • Light candles and incense and do whatever else makes your home feel comfortable and welcoming

Cleansing itself is ritualistic in nature. Try turning your mindset about cleaning into something positive by focusing on the feeling a clean space gives you and being thankful for having your own space.

Ceremony is really about finding meaning in what you are doing…even the little things. Some of these ideas might not be your style but pick and choose the ones you do like. You can also use this mentality to find your own ways of making life ceremonious.

To appreciating the little things,

The Opt-Out Project

Ludell Jones

Ludell Jones

Co-Owner & Marketing Director at Eazl
5 years of small business and entrepreneurship experience. 9 years of marketing experience. Loves community development through ethical business practices and well being/positive psychology research. Located in Chicago.
Ludell Jones