Chapter Five

CELEBRATE events, both large and small.

“When it’s a good time, I celebrate. When it’s a bad time I also celebrate.

Know what I mean?”

Goldie Hawn, actress, comedian, and author

Why is CELEBRATING important?

Celebrating brings more clearly and intensely to our awareness that which is beautiful, positive, and good in our lives. It creates a momentum that leads to acknowledging a wider array of experiences to delight in. The more you celebrate, the more you find opportunities to celebrate.

Celebrating the many positive, little events that occur in daily life—your grandchild balancing on a bicycle for the first time; the smell and sizzle of burgers on the grill; your bare foot escaping contact with the broken bottle lying half-hidden in the sand—brings more joy into your moment-to-moment existence.

“Rejoice, lest pleasureless you die.”

William Morse, nineteenth-century author of The Earthly Paradise

Celebrating the less frequent, significant major events—birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, retirements—ensures that efforts and achievements are acknowledged and rewarded, and provides motivation for further accomplishments.

It’s sometimes difficult to imagine achieving far-off goals, but when successes are celebrated along the way, you encourage and remind yourself and others that progress is being made. This makes the process seem easier, and the goal feel closer.

How to CELEBRATE

You’re no doubt already well aware of the many and varied ways in which major life events can be celebrated: mail cards and announcements to family and friends, have a party, take a trip, buy a present, go out for a nice dinner or night on the town…These celebrations are fine. They’re great! Enjoying some sort of ritual at life’s milestones or upon a major achievement is a well-established and wonderful tradition. However, the celebration of smaller, daily events is also important.

Occasions to celebrate major events may be few and far between, but each and every hour of every day presents many opportunities to rejoice. Be glad your body has the strength and vitality to lift you out of bed; delight in the cold, clear, drinkable water flowing from the faucet; linger in the sense of accomplishment you feel as you feast your eyes on the stacks of clean, folded laundry; and appreciate the less-than-usual traffic that allowed you to arrive home ten minutes early. Grabbing hold of these numerous, everyday pleasures is sustaining, nourishing, fun, and in no way diminishes the recognition and appreciation of big events.

·         Honey, I slept straight through the night, Judith sang out as she stretched her hands toward the ceiling, a smile stretching across her face.

·         Raul lifted his thirteen-month-old granddaughter into the air and showered her with hugs and kisses after the toddler successfully walked from the couch to the chair.

·         Rhonda bowed her head and whispered a silent prayer of thanks the moment she became aware the back discomfort she had been experiencing for days had subsided.

“It should be a delight to feel heat strike the skin,

a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.”

Doris Lessing, contemporary novelist

The more attentive and appreciative you are of the myriad of pleasurable, inspiring, and gratifying opportunities that surround you, the greater your joy, positive impact on others, ability to handle difficult situations, and capacity to recharge and rejuvenate.

You may express these celebrations with smiles, laughter, a victory dance, or prayer, but you may not. The expression of feelings may take place within, invisible to others, except perhaps for the subtle aura of joy and peace emitted by your bubbling spirit.

You don’t have to be on an exotic vacation to become filled with awe at the sight of a sunset. Just take two minutes, any late afternoon, walk outside, look to the west, and open your eyes. You needn’t wait for a big-splurge dinner at a fancy restaurant to really enjoy a meal. Every bite of food can be relished. Experience the sweetness, sourness, heat, and cold. Observe and enjoy as the taste lingers in your mouth. Be thankful for being blessed with such abundance.

“Slow down and enjoy life.”

Eddie Cantor, early twentieth-century star of stage and screen

While small, private celebrations are enjoyable and important, at times, more publicly sharing feelings may enrich both yourself and others.

·         Hearing you play that song with such intensity and enthusiasm gives me goose bumps all over. I can really feel the music.

·         I must look like a fool with this big smile on my face, but I can’t help it. Watching you so confidently and assertively deal with that man makes me feel very proud and happy.

·         A great day at work and then I come home and find you guys with your homework all done, helping your mom make a special dinner. Wow! It doesn’t get any better than this.

Get started right away. Be on the look-out for any and all opportunities to celebrate. Grab hold and enjoy the ride.

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

Erma Bombeck, humorist and author

Examples of CELEBRATING

Following an emotional, exhausting, intense weekend preparing her state and federal tax returns, Joan jumped to her feet and joyously danced from room to room chanting, Who the woman? I the woman! Who the woman? I the woman! When she finished her victory dance, she rushed to her computer to announce to the world via Facebook that she had, with no help, completed her taxes and was going to receive modest state and federal refunds.

“Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread beyond all boundaries.”

Sister Corita Kent, nun, teacher, and religious artist

After years of bouncing from diet to diet, sixty-seven-year-old Carol hoped and prayed this would be the program that worked for her. As she walked toward the scale, her mind raced. I’ve followed the rules 100 percent for seven days now. I just know it’s working. I can feel it. Apprehension washed across her face as she peered over her round midsection and looked down at the scale. She stepped off, breathed deeply, and thought, It’s only two pounds, but at least I’m going in the right direction. Way to go, me! I think the time is right for a celebratory speed-walk around the neighborhood.

A massive heart attack opened Rick’s eyes to a new world.

I’m sixty-three, but I feel like my life is just beginning. Today was my first full day home from the hospital. When I woke up this morning and heard the wind blowing through the tree branches, I couldn’t help but smile, and I started singing. I feel so alive and free and connected to everything and everyone around me. When I shaved, the warm water on my face and the tingle of the shaving cream reminded me of what a great gift it is to feel. I’m through taking life for granted. The new me is going to appreciate every taste, every sight, and every sound.

“Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.” Barbara Hoffman, JD, cancer survivor and author

                                                                 Review

Celebrate both large and small events, the process as well as the product, either privately, publicly, or both. 

Self-Reflection

Look back over your past twenty-four hours and recall when, why, and how you engaged in any type of celebration.