When you’re a young child, you never forget your birthday. You count down the days until the event and maybe have a big party thrown in your honor.
But as we get older, the excitement for our birthday fades. Over time, we learn to discount celebration all across the board. It’s as if we don’t give ourselves permission to celebrate—not when we have bills to pay, when people struggle all over the world, and when there’s still bad news in our midst.
Recently, I’ve changed my perspective on celebration.
In my research on joy, I’ve discovered celebration is essential for joy.
Joy is the satisfaction you feel when you pursue hope, even through great difficulty. When you celebrate, you call attention to the hope in your midst. As you do this, it produces joy, which motivates you to push through your difficult circumstances.
Celebration is not something we do only when we’re happy. Celebration is a 24/7 posture to life.
The more you celebrate, the more hope you’ll have in the midst of your difficult situations. And with hope, you can grow through these circumstances.
But the reason many people don’t celebrate is because they don’t know what to celebrate or how to celebrate.
Celebration doesn’t have to mean throwing a big party. If celebration is just calling attention to hope, then it could be both small and big actions.
Here are four things you should celebrate for more joy and hope in daily life:
1. Celebrate Milestones
Every journey has mile markers. As life speeds up and gets busier, however, these mile markers start to blur past one another.
Oftentimes, we feel our lives spin into negativity when the speed of life grows too fast. Before you know it, we’re 40, then 50, then 60, then retiring. Life flies by, and it can leave us feeling hopeless—as if life is just dragging us forward through time.
Celebrating the milestones along the way help slow down our lives. It gives us a brief moment of pause where we can look back to reflect and look forward with enthusiasm.
The more we celebrate the milestones in our lives, the more hope we’ll have in our journey.
Milestones don’t just mean birthdays. They could be holidays or achievements. For instance, my wife and I planned a milestone celebration for when I dissolved my last business. It marked a new chapter of our lives and we wanted to commemorate it.
Make a commitment to celebrate every new chapter of your life.
One way I do this is I do a brain dump of all the milestones I expect in the next three years. Then I put these milestones into my to-do list app (Asana) and my calendar (Google Calendar) with the celebration idea attached. This way, it’s scheduled and it never sneaks up on me.
2. Celebrate Progress
We love to be critical about ourselves when we fall short, but we rarely celebrate how far we’ve come.
When we choose to be critical about falling short, we sabotage any future success.
When we celebrate how far we’ve come, we’re encouraged to go farther.
The problem with celebrating our progress, however, is that it’s much easier to notice falling short than it is to notice our progress. It requires intentional activity to rewrite that negativity.
One of the ways I notice progress and celebrate it is with a daily journaling habit. Again, celebrating is just calling attention to hope. When I journal, I think back to the previous day and reflect on whether I made any small steps toward my goals. If I have, then I write it down and celebrate with gratitude.
As you celebrate progress in this way, you’ll encourage yourself to make more progress.
3. Celebrate Good News
In a study done by the University of California, Irvine, researchers studied a group of 165 students who got good grades on an exam. The students who shared their good news felt happier longer as opposed to the ones who didn’t share their news.
Too often, we withhold our good news from people. We fear they don’t want to hear our good news, they might perceive it as bragging, or that it’ll just make them sadder.
But studies show that the positive affect of both people increases when you share good news and it is met with enthusiasm. You spread happiness by sharing happiness.
I make it a habit to share my good news with people by calling attention to good news with my journaling habit, then writing down who I’ll share it with.
This simple practice can help you spread hope by becoming hope to other people. Share your good news often.
4. Celebrate People
When a person doesn’t have joy, they navel gaze. They stay stuck within their own perspective, which further cycles them in their negativity.
But people all around us are doing hopeful actions. Even if you feel like you have nothing to celebrate for yourself, you can make an intentional effort to celebrate other people. Call out the hope you see in them, and you’ll light the spark of hope in yourself.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that the people who are the most judgmental about others are the most judgmental about themselves. They often feel like they have nothing to celebrate within themselves, and then they don’t celebrate others.
But if you reframe your brain to start celebrating the good in people, you’ll learn to start celebrating yourself.
People are worthy of celebration, and so are you.
Celebration is Essential
As you can see, celebration can be both big or small. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming activity. It can be something you do within daily life.
When you celebrate in the midst of your difficult circumstances, you’ll give yourself the dose of hope you need to push through.
Again, celebration doesn’t need to happen when you’re happy or when your circumstances all line up. You can celebrate your progress or any good news you receive. You can even celebrate the heroes who are coming alongside you in your difficult times.
Celebration is how we push through hard things. It’s also how we squeeze life for all it’s worth. Make it a habit to celebrate these four things and your hope will never run dry.