I’m going to just come out and say it. Actually, I’m going to yell it:
I THINK WE SHOULD PAUSE AND CELEBRATE A LOT MORE THAN WE DO.
For various reasons, things end: loved ones die, we pass courses, we move out of beloved homes. Cars die on the side of the road and we finish our work with clients. And at the same time, there are beginnings everywhere: babies are born, we start new jobs, we dive into fresh starts and we buy new cars.
Semisonic was right: every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Every end is a beginning to something else, and every beginning comes in the wake of an end. The birth of a baby is also the end of his or her parents as a happy twosome, a graduation signals the transition of the graduate’s parents into parenting a young adult who will (hopefully) move out and away. Moving into a new home marks the end of a lot of work to pack, sell, and make it all happen. A divorce marks the end of a marriage and the dreams the couple once held for their future together.
Looking for the small gaps, moments, and beats that mark our lives can give us depth and meaning.
We seem to wait for the grand and large occasions to come our way, but I would argue that all events are worth taking a moment to sit in. When we don’t pause to revere events in our lives, whether they appear to us as “good” or “bad,” we skip over opportunities to acknowledge our own growth and truly relish what is to come.
I like to celebrate the small things in life. I squeal when I find a parking spot in a crowded lot, I do a little happy dance when I get packages in the mail, and I make sure to toast every time I drink something. When it’s the anniversary of someone’s death, I like to toast them and spend a part of the day celebrating who they were. I like to tell people how incredibly amazing they are on their birthday. At the end of a long week, I like to celebrate all that happened (and a whole lot does!) and let go of the pieces that fell short or were challenging in some way.
Years ago, I had a ritual I called “Champagne Fridays.” My husband and I would invite friends over for dinner, crack open a bottle of bubble, and take turns toasting, sometimes several times, until the bottle was done. It forced us to look for things to toast and while sometimes there wasn’t anything obvious to celebrate, like a promotion at work or the completion of a course, we could always find something. A few memorable examples of this still come to mind:
“I didn’t get fired this week!”
“I didn’t go further into debt!”
“The dog is finally house trained!”
There’s also a relationshippy piece to this: as we go through life alongside our partners, we see what they are working on, struggling with, and immersed in, and if they are wrapped up in what they are doing, they may miss seeing the bigger picture of celebrating as they go. It is your job to celebrate the progress you see and invite them to pause in these events (and it is their job to do this for you). This opens up another way of seeing your partner and showing them how important their life is to you.
If it isn’t clear, celebration is the more-fun cousin of gratitude, so if you are someone who is grateful and takes stock of the things worthy of gratitude, then celebrating won’t be a stretch at all. Either way, I invite you to ask yourself, at the end of each day, “What am I celebrating today?” When you come up with something worthy of it (and now you know that nearly anything qualifies), raise your glass of wine, water, or whatever you have, make a toast and take a pause.