How do you feel about celebrating? If you’re anything like me and most of the people I know, you probably enjoy it. However, I notice that as much as I like to celebrate, I sometimes find it challenging as well. Here are some of the reasons that I use not to do it:
- I don’t have the time or money to celebrate right now, there’s work that needs to get done
- Things aren’t yet as good as they “should” be for me to stop and celebrate
- People will think I’m weird, naive, or obnoxious if I celebrate too much
- With so much suffering in the world and people having a tough time these days, it’s not appropriate for me to celebrate
- I’ll celebrate, for sure, but not until everything turns out exactly as I want it to
Can you relate to any of these?We were recently at Disneyland with our girls. We love it there! One of the many magical aspects of Disneyland is how they fully embrace the power of celebration. Every day at Disneyland feels like your birthday, favorite holiday, and New Year’s Eve – all wrapped into one. The parade down Main Street is even called “Celebrate You.”I was really struck by this focus on celebration when we were there most recently and realized that one of the main reasons people come to Disneyland (and keep coming back, like us) is that it’s an excuse to celebrate. And while they do an amazing job at Disneyland with the rides, the characters, the shows, the fireworks, and more – the real magic behind it all is the power of celebration.
Too often in life we think we have to have a “legitimate” reason to celebrate – a birthday, winning an award, an anniversary, the completion of a project, the accomplishment of a goal, taking a vacation, or some other “special occasion.” While all of these things can be fun to celebrate, we don’t have to wait for them to happen to feel justified in our celebration.
At Disneyland they celebrate just to celebrate – on Tuesday mornings and Thursday nights, on special occasions and holidays, and on every single day throughout the year. What if we did more of this in our lives – even and especially when things get tough?
While it may seem counter-intuitive, celebrating for “no reason” and counting our blessings when things are hard can literally transform our experience of being alive.
I was in a cab in Houston a few years ago, heading back to the airport after speaking at an event for Chevron. The cab driver and I got into an interesting conversation about life, family, and the state of our culture in America. The driver told me he was from Ethiopia originally, but had been living in the United States for about twenty years.
I asked him, “What’s your take on American culture, given that you didn’t grow up here.” He paused for a long time; then asked me, “Can I be honest with you?” I said, “Of course.” He then said, “I think most people in this culture act like spoiled brats.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked, a bit surprised by his response. “Mike,” he said, “I’m from Ethiopia…every day here is a good day. I don’t understand why people just don’t walk around here with their hands in the air saying ‘THANK YOU’.”
Regardless of what’s going on in our lives right now, we have so much to celebrate and be grateful for. We don’t have to wait until we close the deal, win the game, finish the project, get to retirement, fall in love, reach out goal, or whatever else it is we feel we need to accomplish in order to celebrate.
Sometimes the best thing for us to celebrate is the mere fact that we’ve made it to this point in life, especially if things have been challenging, which for many of us they have been recently and/or at times in our lives.
Celebrating is not only an after-the-fact phenomenon; it’s a way of being and can become a way of life if we choose to live that way. Stop for a moment right now and think of all the things (big and small) that you can celebrate about your life right now. As Oprah Winfrey says, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
How much celebrating do you do? What can you celebrate in your life right now? How can you expand your capacity for celebration? Share your thoughts, ideas, insights, and more on my blog here.
Originally published September 2010