Celebration – by Kind Communication

KindCommunication.orgRe-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2015/12/14/celebration/

It is important to regularly celebrate.  Now that may sound simple, trite, and obvious; however, do you do it?  I know that you celebrate when something big and exciting happens.  You celebrated when you graduated from school.  When you got a new job.  When you met someone that you love.  But did you celebrate when after a long day of stress and obligations you got to finally sit and rest?  Did you celebrate when your partner gave you a peck on the cheek for no apparent reason?  Did you celebrate when you had that enjoyable conversation with a stranger at the store/bus stop/park?

It is important to celebrate continually, especially when times are tough.  When life gets hectic, stressful, difficult, and hard we can grow callous.  Small pleasures can be at best assumed, and at worst totally ignored.  Why?

You’ve probably heard this before, and it is a lot harder to do than it sounds.  I’m not meaning to be cliche, I am not trying to say that amidst very difficult circumstances one should just “look on the bright side”.  If I were to say that, it would be callous of me.  Never deny your pain in the hopes of becoming comfortably numb.

So if I’m not saying “look on the bright side”, then what do I mean when I say “celebrate, especially when times are tough”?

I mean finding things to celebrate in the midst of hardship.  And when you find those small things to celebrate, and then actually celebrate them, then it feeds you to keep going through the hardship.  It doesn’t mask or help you forget about the pain, it helps you bear the load.

To try and demonstrate I’ll tell a story about when I was an intern with a labor union in Philadelphia.  I thought I wanted to work for unions after college, so I applied to work as a paid intern, and work with a team of union organizers trying to revitalize an ailing union in Philadelphia.  Being a union organizer is tough work.  You have to work insane hours, 60 – 70 hours a week sometimes, mostly because there is so much work to do, and just not enough people who are willing to step forward and do the work.  I quickly learned that this was not the life for me.  The hours were too much to bear for me.  I had to face a lot of rejection.

I can reflect back now and see that some days and weeks I was able carry easier than others.  Part of that is because sometimes I remember to celebrate the small things.  I celebrated getting a special treat at lunch.  I celebrated having a good conversation with a friend.  And while those moments didn’t make my exhaustion and hopelessness disappear, they helped me bear and carry my exhaustion and hopelessness.  Celebrating those small moments gave me the strength to not resist my pain, but to accept its presence.

So quickly, and finally, what does it look like to celebrate these small things?

First, you have to notice that something sweet happened.  Just notice and recognize that something, even something very small, occurred that you can take pleasure in.

Second, smile.  Laugh.  Let that even small feeling of relief and happiness in.  Just give yourself a moment to feel the slight gratefulness, appreciation, and joy you may be feeling.  Focus all your attention on this for just a few moments, and give yourself permission to forget whatever else is going on.

Third, say thank you, and go on with your life.  Say goodbye to that moment or experience with gratitude, and don’t chase that feeling of gratification.  Be grateful that you got some small pleasure and then return to being present to the bigger obstacles you are facing in life.

And if in life there aren’t many big obstacles at the moment, what a nice big thing you have to celebrate!  Enjoy life when things are easy, they won’t always be this way, and you’ll need this celebration to fuel your future travels.

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.