Most of us celebrate the many big events in our lives: religious holidays such as Christmas and Ramadan; personal commemorations like birthdays and anniversaries; and generally abstract state-sanctioned celebrations such as New Year’s Day. However, we tend to plow through life at such a pace that we seldom take the time to celebrate the most important thing: life.
Increasingly we only celebrate when there’s a “good reason” to, and in doing so we forget that traditions, ceremonies and celebrations are a significant part of human connection and important for our overall wellbeing and optimistic outlook on life. In the name of progress, our cultures have stopped rejoicing over everyday occurrences like sunrises and important seasonal events like harvest time. So while we’ve become very good at planting the seeds these days, we need to start reaping the crops again.
How to celebrate and create optimism
Research on positive psychology by Hasassah Littman-Ovadia, has shown that when we are able to look forward to something worth celebrating, no matter how big or small, we really do feel more optimistic. The things to look forward to and celebrate could be anything: a promotion at work; cooking a successful meal for a loved one; a beautiful, sunny day after a week of rain; or good news from a family member.
- Helps us stay in the present
- Builds self-respect
- Feeds our basic human need for self-love and self-acceptance
- Positive magnification
- Makes it easier to self-promote
Any celebration, whether it be big or small, or important to others or not, is really about taking a step back and noticing the good things in your life. It can also be a reminder of our talents and abilities, skills and persistence. Drawing on those things can motivate us to keep working toward our goals. According to social psychology researcher Fred Bryant, when we stop to savour the good stuff, we buffer ourselves against the bad and build resilience.
Celebrating makes you grateful
“Have an attitude of gratitude”
A study on how gratitude impacts our wellbeing was conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, the founding editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology. The study split several hundred people into three different groups, all of whom were instructed to keep daily journals. One of the groups was required to write about the day without labelling the events ‘good’ or ‘bad’, another wrote about negative things that had happened, and the final group was told to make a daily list of things they felt grateful for.
The gratitude journal group had significantly higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. They also experienced less depression and stress, were more likely to help others, exercised more consistently and made greater progress toward achieving personal goals.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
You don’t need to drink to celebrate
We perceive alcohol as a product that causes happiness or satisfaction, even for just a small amount of time, and as consumers we’re bombarded with an overwhelming amount of marketing that tells us you need to drink to have fun, relax and feel good.
Celebrating the everyday, sans hangover
We often move from one thing to the next without really giving the time to transition onto the next thing, let alone celebrate our achievements.
Here are some tips to help you celebrate the everyday:
Notice the moment. What is it you feel proud of? What’s working for you?
Take time to reflect on achievements in life, regardless of what other people think of those achievements.
Allow yourself to be proud of achievements. If you have worked hard for something, let yourself be rewarded.
Pause and set the moment apart by stepping out of your routine for just a few minutes.
Time to take action
Treat yo self. Buy fresh flowers for your home for no good reason or play loud music and dance around the house just because you can. Take yourself out to that movie you have wanted to see for a while or invite friends over for tea and homemade goodies.
Make little speeches and toasts to yourself, to friends, family and loved ones when something good happens, or when you would like to acknowledge a person or an event.