Celebrations Aren’t Just for Holidays

We generally take time to celebrate life’s big events like weddings, birthdays, graduations, and holidays. Of course these are important, but what if we broadened our perspective and gave ourselves permission to celebrate the little things? Life is full of little events, so starting a celebration would depend on what’s important to each of us. When we appreciate the little things in life, our focus is directed towards what is fun, nurturing, and uplifting instead of what is irritating, frustrating, or hurtful. This means practicing gratitude for the everyday things we often take for granted, or miss altogether. This doesn’t mean negative events will disappear, but it will keep us from over-emphasizing their significance in our lives.

If we slow down and savor our days, we will discover all kinds of things to celebrate. How about bringing out the champagne when we remember to laugh and not take ourselves so seriously? Have a celebrative cup of coffee with a friend because it’s Tuesday. Sleeping in could be celebratory after a series of early morning risings. Completing another session of chemo or radiation is worth a splurge of self-pampering. Celebrate the beautiful gift of encouragement from a friend with reciprocal support, or enjoy a beach walk after several rainy days in a row. This morning my husband and I celebrated the omelet he made that was only lightly browned on the outside and moist inside. We chose not to dwell on omelets of the past that were a bit scary. I like to celebrate completing household cleaning tasks with time in my favorite recliner chair, reading my current library book.

Being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to celebrate. For Ivanna Kern, having appendix cancer led her into appreciating every day and celebrating the host of little things that make up our lives. With enthusiasm, her friends and family eagerly joined in the fun. She recently celebrated what she calls her “sixth cancerversary.” Looking at everyday as a gift, she had a series of “chemo parties” marking the time she was halfway through her treatment schedule, then done with treatment, and finally cancer-free.

She described her uplifted spirit when she received a prayer shawl from people she didn’t know. Then someone gave her a stone to keep in her pocket with the encouraging message to “Be Strong.” The laughter of every gathering of her support group, combined with the pleasure of being silly, filled her with positive emotions and energized her for whatever came next. Now cancer-free, she continues to celebrate and embrace life by paying attention to daily details with deep gratitude.

These kinds of celebrations create positive emotions that boost our immune systems and allow us to recover more quickly from physical illness. We become both physically and psychologically resilient and are able to be more creative and flexible. That sounds remarkably helpful, because when the tough stuff comes, it’s positive emotions that will help us balance and cope. Learning how to appreciate and celebrate the little things in life is a powerful tool for physical and mental health. What are you celebrating today?

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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