I’ve recently been thinking about the importance of celebration or ways to add more celebration to your life. Finding new ways to celebrate seems especially important now, given the grim state of the economy and the world. We need more ways to step outside the mundane everyday reality to have more fun and feel better about ourselves and our experiences everyday.
The value of celebration has long been recognized in every culture, going back to the beginnings of human history and even before. It is closely linked with the use of ritual and play, which even many animals do. A ritual is a regularly performed action, and often it is done as part of a religious service or personal spiritual practice. Celebration is often incorporated in such religious rituals, such as when a prayer session or meditation concludes with a sense of joy and liberation. Likewise, play, which involves engaging in a free spirited fun activity, can incorporate a celebration or conclude with one. An example is when a game ends in a victory which calls for a celebration.
Celebrations can also give special recognition and fun to almost anything – from birthdays and holidays to the successful completion of any kind of tasks in business or at work.
You might think of celebrations as those special occasions that add a sense of excitement, awe, joy, or other types of heightened emotional release. They are a way to brighten and add meaning to your life, and they bring people together in a spirit of community and bonding. Without celebration life would be truly drab and monotonous – just doing a series of routine tasks day after day. It would be a little like being on a factory line that keeps going, going, and going and never ends. You would feel bored and unstimulated, living but not really alive. But a celebration, even a short one lasting just a few minutes, helps to recharge the mind and the soul.
Hence, the power of all sorts of celebration throughout history. There are celebrations to mark the passage from one stage of life to another – such as baptisms to welcome a new child to the family and community, birthdays, coming of age ceremonies like barmitzvahs and fraternity hazings, marriage ceremonies, seasonal holidays like Easter and Christmas, and Saints Days in the Catholic Faith. There are days when one can be someone else, such as during Mardi Gras and Halloween. There are celebrations to welcome newcomers to a group, organization, company, or neighborhood. There are parties to support or celebrate the success of a team, like tailgate parties and victory parties. Other parties are for achievements and promotions, still others for retiring or leaving a group.
In short, almost any event you can think of has a celebration associated with it – and there are special celebrations around the world associated with a particular industry, such as fleet days when the boats launch; launch parties for when a new company begins; and more.
Individuals, families, and blocks of neighbors may create their own celebrations, too, for different occasions. For instance, you might create a personal celebration to reward yourself for achieving some goal; your family might arrange to celebrate a special family day, such as by having a family picnic, graduation party, or outing at the beach. Your neighbors might organize a block party or become part of a network of block parties, such as National Night Out, which is sponsored by law enforcement to encourage neighbors to bond together and protect one another against crime.
For example, you can give yourself a quick reward at the end of completing a task or a certain amount of work. You can take a stretch or exercise break and imagine that you are celebrating some kind of achievement while you do. If you are doing routine work that doesn’t involve much concentration, you might imagine yourself engaging in some fun activity.
Or you might find ways to make work more fun for everyone, such as by having a party where people decorate their workplaces. Other possibilities include organizing a special dress-up day, creating a bingo awards game for people’s work, taking a goofy break to unwind, having a time at a meeting for people to brag about themselves, and beginning or ending a meeting with an inspirational story.
Still other possibilities are having a creative gift exchange, organizing a humorous theme contest or event, setting up an office skit or poetry slam party, and having a fashion show. Or try devising a workplace scavenger hunt, having a diversity day celebration, and organizing a creativity day where team members come up with creative uses for a series of objects.
Some other ideas for fun celebrations include creating a match-up game to help people learn about each other, having a rewards and recognition contest, using humorous gifts for office celebrations, and finding novel ways to recognize employees. Some more suggestions are putting on a surprise party for a special occasion, organizing a come-as a character day, creating a be-a-kid for a day event, and organizing a theme party featuring a fun place, such as a Down Under Australia party or Polynesian luau.
If you travel, you will find opportunities to participate in a wide variety of celebrations in different communities throughout the U.S. and the world. Just pick up the local daily or weekly newspaper and see what’s going on. For example, when I was in Southern California, one of the special celebrations I attended was a party to look for and welcome the grunions, a small fish that arrives in mass on the beach at certain times of the year to spawn. Another event was a Harvest Festival put on by a local college which featured a walk through a mysterious corn maze where costumed figures jumped out from the corn to startle everyone. And one of my favorites was a monthly drumming ceremony on the playa, where people came with their drums and rattles and danced and chanted around a bonfire.
In short, there are all sorts of ways to add celebration to your life – from what you do individually to what you do with friends, family, neighbors, your whole community, and the nation.
And you can not only engage in celebrations with others, but you can use your imagination to create personal celebrations in your mind. In turn, such celebrations not only add fun and excitement to your life, but they can help you become close to and bond with others and add meaning to your life. Also, when you use your imagination to come up with and experience celebrations, you are exercising and expanding your creativity, as well as stimulating your mental abilities, particularly your ability to visualize and plan. I have described a variety of such techniques in my book WANT IT, SEE IT, GET IT!
Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D. is the author of over 50 books and a seminar and workshop leader, specializing in work relationships and professional and personal development. Her latest books include WANT IT, SEE IT, GET IT! and ENJOY! 101 Little Ways to Add Fun To Your Work Every Day, both from AMACOM. Her forthcoming book is 17 Top Secrets on How to Keep Your Job Or Find New Work Today, to be published as an ebook and as a paperback by ASJA Press.