If your routine has you feeling like life is becoming a bit of a blur, maybe it’s time to celebrate the small stuff. Celebrations add perspective and variety to our days, weeks, and months. They give us something to look forward to and a reason to smile. So why limit celebrating to certain times of the year when you can feel that boost of expectation and happiness year-round?
Clinical psychologist Dr Cecilia D’Felice and self-improvement expert Nina Grunfeld say that it’s when times are tough and life feels like a struggle that taking note of the small achievements can give you a long-lasting sense of well-being and satisfaction.
What’s stopping you from starting a new tradition by celebrating the end of the week with that ‘Friday feeling’? Why not take time to sit down for a meal with family or friends to celebrate getting through the week? Or celebrate yourself with some oh-so-luxurious self-care (think: reclining on the couch with some bubbles).
The benefits of celebrating
- Self-development – If life seems to be a cycle of tasks and to-dos, it’s easy to feel like you’re on a treadmill, investing all your thoughts and energies on the future. Living in the future creates anxiety and doesn’t allow you to reflect and learn. Stepping off the treadmill to celebrate moments and milestones along the way forces you to stop, acknowledge the process and absorb what has happened. That’s how we develop and grow.
- Building self-esteem – 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 is that if you hardly ever – or never – do that, you’ll start wondering why you’re bothering. Rewarding yourself with a celebration raises your confidence and self-esteem, and inspires and recharges you. It puts you in the virtuous circle of hard work, achievement, celebration and gratitude.
- Positive magnification – Put simply, the more you celebrate, the more there is to celebrate! When you focus on something, it expands. When you downplay or overlook it, it shrinks. If you tend to shrug even good things off as “luck”, instead try really 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, as well as the joy and inspiration.
Mark the small victories
Don’t save the rejoicing for just the big wins or events like Christmas, your promotion or your child’s good report card. For every milestone, there are so many moments that push us forward.
It could be positive feedback from a boss or a customer, or perhaps you solved a crisis at work before it even started. Notice the less glamorous, small victories, offer up a silent thanks and maybe mark the moments with small rewards – a yoga class, walk on the beach or a picnic with your family.
Technology is a fabulous means of staying connected to distant friends and family, but it can also divorce us from the people around us. Cherish time with those you care about – and don’t let technology distract you.
Unplug and be in the real moment, not the virtual one. Don’t browse online while your partner is trying to tell you about their day, or send a flurry of messages during a mother-daughter day out.
Make an everyday meal special and it will be, get everyone to contribute; lay the table, play the music, light the candles. Don’t let virtual experiences screen out the moments – and people – that matter most.
Boost your relationship
Couples can be very good at supporting one another when times are hard, or something has gone wrong, but we forget to pay the same level of attention to each other’s good news or special day.
Fling your arms around your partner and kiss them when you see each other at the end of the day (instead of mumbling a lukewarm “hello” from behind the iPad before offloading all the irritations of your day). Research shows that couples are happier if they have a ratio of 5:1 positive to negative interactions. So, for every hurt feeling, they need five caring interactions.
Celebrations (of an anniversary, promotion, a small victory with the kids) are perfect for doing something different, which feeds the brain with dopamine – the same circuits that light up in early romantic love!
Celebrate and boost your work life
Research shows that “boredom” is usually in the top three reasons why people look for another job. A spontaneous celebration at work – such as bringing doughnuts in on Fridays, or organising an impromptu lunch to celebrate a task completed – is a powerful motivator, an expression of appreciation and a shot of the unexpected.
Celebrations at work promote team bonding and communicate values. Instead of creating a culture of competition and hostility, it nurtures community.
Then celebrate the other 364 days of the year
Don’t wait for a special occasion – celebration can be a daily activity! Be grateful for anything that brings you joy – your garden, the perfect roast potato, the end of a working week, a good hair day – celebrate them all!
Mini rituals are great for grounding us in celebration: a favourite feel-good song when making dinner or breakfast in bed on Sunday, for example. Whatever you do, however mundane, can be turned into a mini celebration.
Walking the dog? Take in the view, say hello and smile at other walkers. A smile is always available, costs nothing and rewards us with instant connection and feel-good hormones.
Celebrate the life you have
Celebrate the small stuff and gain a new lease on life.