“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state–it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle…. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions.”
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
In one of my earlier posts, The Happiness Factors, I pointed out that a few of the important thoughts and behaviors a person can control which lead to happiness are expressing gratitude, savoring life’s pleasures, spending time with friends and family, and life long goals and ambitions. That is why it is vitally important to take time out to celebrate.
As it turns out, celebrating victories or achievements is one of the things that allows us to trigger several of the happiness factors simultaneously. Without thinking too much about it, it is easy to see how celebrating victories or achievements can trigger these happiness factors.
My inspiration for this post was actually based on my wife kicking butt at work. We had the opportunity to celebrate her achievements in helping improve people’s lives and her achievements in growing in her career. While we happened to be privileged to get that experience I understand that may not be readily available for everyone. That said, I’ll use a standard example that we all have access to once a year, birthdays.
A birthday is a celebration of another year gone by in which we survived, learned, and grew. It is a great time to look back on all we have to be grateful for and celebrate that with our friends and family. What is more is it allows our friends and family the opportunity to express their gratitude for having us in their life. It is a win-win for everyone involved.
So, let’s break down the key ingredients here. First of all we have our celebration of growing another year older and wiser. Typically we find that a birthday celebration includes things like tasty food and pleasant music to listen to, aka savoring life’s pleasures. There are also a few people in attendance that you hopefully like or what you might otherwise call friends and family. Everyone is expressing gratitude for having the person grow another year older and the person who is growing older is expressing gratitude for having their friends and family there with them. Finally, in the life long goals and aspirations area we should all be striving to have meaningful relationships with the people we care the most about and celebrating with your friends and family is an exercise in doing so. So, it is fairly easy to see how celebrations can trigger those happiness factors and improve everyone’s life.
I believe the wonderful takeaway here is that through celebration everyone involved gets to enjoy benefits. Obviously the person who has achieved something special gets the aforementioned benefits, but those celebrating in recognition of the individual or the group also experience benefits. In addition to all the benefits previously mentioned the people who are celebrating recognition of the other person will likely feel more optimistic in seeing someone they know reach a new milestone which may lead to an increased level of emotional poise and strength as they in turn focus their willpower to reach for their own goals.
This positive feedback loop may be one reason why people who spend more time with happy people are found themselves to be happier.
With all that said I encourage you to take the time and energy to really celebrate the victories and achievements in your life! You will reap the rewards of a happier life in doing so and bring happiness to your friends and family as well.
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