It was my birthday last week, and while all the birthday wishes were flowing in on my social media, text messages and my phone kept pinging, I couldn’t help but notice how far I have come as person. You see, celebrating was never my thing. I was always a bit perplexed when people went to the trouble of remembering other people’s birthdays, apart from close family. Didn’t they have anything else to worry about? Weren’t there starving children in Africa?
I found celebrating, especially birthdays which basically happen every year, a bit of chore. I was alright with the big one-off celebrations like a twenty first, fortieth, a wedding, a christening or even a funeral; it was the recurring ones that had me rolling my eyes. Then there is celebrating achievements, like a promotion etc. In my mind, whatever was being celebrated had happened, so let’s move on already. This meant quite a fair bit of my life was lost with significant and insignificant moments merging into a blur. What a waste!
I don’t do that anymore. I am older and hopefully wiser; and I’m all about sucking the juice out of life and no moment worth celebrating is going to slip by unnoticed and unmarked if I can help it. It is like I am making up for the all the years I lost in the blur of time.
What triggered this change in attitude? Well, the root cause of not stopping to celebrate was because I was always chasing after the next thing. I believed the next thing was what was really going to rock my life. Then one day I woke up to the realisation that some pretty amazing things had already happened in my life and I had just let them slip by and never revelled in the moment. I seemed to lack the celebration gene and until I cultivated it. That was such a light bulb moment.
This shifted my whole life lens to one of gratitude; because if you really stop and look, you will be staggered by how much good there already is in your life. Yes, even in a pandemic!
Which brings me to my next point. These are uncertain times. There is no denying that a lot of us feel at sea, what with:
- Loss of jobs and people having to take pay cuts
- Working from home and the sense of isolation that some feel
- Missing the constant stream of birthday cake you get in the office, not to mention the office gossip
- Home schooling with some feeling ill equipped to teach their children
- Having to wear masks (They make me feel claustrophobic)
- No overseas holidays to let off the steam of being cooped up in lockdown
You could be forgiven for thinking that life as we knew it, pre-pandemic, will never come back again; and indeed, with phrases like ‘the new normal’ you might be right.
That is why celebrating should now be part of the new normal. No one knows where all this in going to end up. In the meantime, are you going to keep waiting for something to happen before you start living? You could be waiting for a long time. That is why you have to start noticing what is worth celebrating now, like getting to know your neighbours for start! (My yummy dairy free chocolate birthday cake was baked by one of my neighbours who I found out in lockdown is a pastry chef.)
4 biological reasons why you should be celebrating
There is a whole cascade of feel good chemicals that get released when you switch into celebration mode, which additionally helps you to combat the rise of cortisol, the stress hormone.
- When you are celebrating there is bound to be food, drink and cake and the sight of these alone release dopamine; which is the brain’s reward system.
- Celebration makes you do a happy dance, or you go into full on John Travolta mode on the dancefloor. This is physical exercise which releases endorphins, which make you feel euphoric.
- Have you noticed how you suddenly feel loved and lucky when you have something to celebrate? Whomever is standing next to you, whether they like it or not, you are hugging them. Guess what? You are releasing the cuddle hormone, oxytocin.
- If you let yourself feel valued, you release serotonin; and if you are celebrating, you must have achieved something, and you will definitely be feeling valued.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, Champagne sales fell by 55% this year compared to last year because no one is celebrating. These are trying times, the only certainty you have is who you choose to be and finding things, big or small to celebrate.
So celebrate it is definitely the way forward.