Discover the power of celebrating
If you think staging a celebration is a bit of an indulgence, then think again. Recognising even small achievements can give you a long-lasting sense of wellbeing. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate those small things in life – and discover that celebration is the best natural medicine!
Stay in the present
If life seems to be a constant cycle of tasks to do, it’s easy to feel you’re on a treadmill, investing all your energies in the future. This creates anxiety and robs you of the chance to reflect and learn. Stepping off the treadmill to celebrate moments and milestones forces you to stop, recognise the process and absorb what has happened. That’s how we develop.
Obvious, perhaps, but celebrating achievements and marking milestones with the people you love is a way of giving yourself a small pat on the back. The danger if you hardly ever do that is that, ultimately, you will start wondering why you’re bothering. Rewarding yourself with a celebration raises your confidence and self-esteem, inspires and recharges you – and makes you feel like a winner. It puts you in the virtuous circle of hard work, achievement, celebration and gratitude.
Boost your marriage
Couples can be good at supporting each other when times are hard, but don’t pay the same attention to each other’s good news or special day. Research shows that couples are happier if they have a ratio of five to one positive to negative interactions. Celebrations are perfect excuses to do something novel together. This activates the brain’s reward system, flooding it with stimulating dopamine.
Boost your worklife
Research shows that ‘boredom’ is usually in the top three reasons why people look for another job. Small, spontaneous celebrations at work – bringing cake in on Fridays, or organising a spontaneous lunch to celebrate a lunch completed – are a powerful motivator. Celebrations at work promote team bonding. Instead of creating a culture of competition, they nurture community.
Enjoy an escape
A celebration can act to provide a perfect short break, and can be a useful strategy when life is stressful. Staging or attending a celebration forces us to put other worries aside. Looking on the bright side and focusing on something worth celebrating puts you in a lighter frame of mind and can clear your head. You may return to the situation able to look at things afresh and with a new perspective.
Make the most of magnification
Put simply, the more you celebrate, the more there is to celebrate. When you focus on something, it expands. When you downplay or overlooks it, it shrinks. If you tend to shrug off even good things as ‘luck’, try focusing on what’s going well and why. This anchors them as real, acknowledges their importance and allows you to eke out all the potential benefit – the fun and feel-good factor, the joy and inspiration.
Get the balance
Life should be a balance of activity and reflection, of hard work and reward. Celebrations give us something to look forward to and remind us that life is a gift – not a sentence. They can sustain us, especially when times are hard and are a vital part of our emotional development. Dismiss them at your peril!
Let go a little
In our super-structured 21st century lives, celebrations can be a way of letting spontaneity back in. An unexpected birthday party may be beyond your control, but that can be good for you.
Connect closely with others
When you join with friends, family, neighbours or strangers to celebrate, you all transcend your ordinary lives and forget your differences to share a moment and focus on whatever brought you together. Connectivity has been found to be key in making us happy. Enthusiasm is infectious and literally spreads the joy. That wonderful bonding effect isn’t short-lived, either, as celebrations – and those we shared with them with – stay etched in our memories long after the day is over.
Celebration is the best natural medicine. It relaxes muscles, triggers the release of endorphins and can boost the immune system by 40%. It can decrease stress hormones, lessen pain and leave you feeling upbeat.
Let gratitude play its part
Celebrating things in your life reminds you how much you have to be grateful for – and studies show that grateful people are the happiest people. Positive psychologist, Professor Martin Seligman, identified gratitude as the top character strength that makes humans thrive. Noticing the good things in your life and celebrating them – big and small – will lift your mood.
This is an extract from an article in Woman and Home magazine