Another birthday week has passed us by in our birthday intense family. No worries, there will be more. Between my large family and my Irish husband’s clan, there is never a shortage of birthday cake and parties to go around. Never a lack of reasons to gather the troops, fire up the grills or ovens, let the music play and the laughter begin.
One thing we are good at is celebrating and playing. Birthdays aren’t the only reasons to be bringing out the cake and candles though. Celebrations remind us of what all the hard work is for. It’s the victory at the top of the hill. Even if the hill is small. It’s the TA-DA when you finally get it right. It’s taking the moment to appreciate everyone around you and be grateful for the privelege of playing the game we call Life.
“Each day comes bearing it’s own gifts. Untie the ribbons”
-Ruth Ann Schabacker
It is so easy to get caught up in the work of our daily toil. It is never-ending. For most of us, the To-Do list is a mountain that is never going to be fully scaled. It is a two steps forward, one step back sort of thing- if we are lucky. If we aren’t so lucky, it can be a slippery slope toward self-loathing as we beat ourselves up for what we never seem to get done. Learning to celebrate and play is an important tool and life lesson for success and happy living.
Celebrating our victories helps to keep us focused on what we are accomplishing rather than what we aren’t getting done. James Allen states “As a Man thinketh so is he.” If you are thinking of yourself as a person who gets things done, chances are you are going to feel better about continuing the momentum. If you are thinking of yourself as a loser who never finishes anything, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as well.
One of the best tips I have ever heard concerning the To- Do list was instead of crossing off or checking off the completed items on your list, highlight them in your favorite color of highlighter. How much more fun is it at the end of the day to look at a nice bright pink, blue or green page rather than an ugly scratched out list. That isn’t very appealing! Celebrate your hot pink day! Go you!
Celebrating our victories helps to deter procrastination. No one wants to work day in and day out, struggling though the sludge of drudgery with no end in sight. If you doubt it, spend time working with children or pets! They want that immediate treat, the fun reward. They want to know what is coming next AFTER the work. They spend their work time thinking about the ice cream party coming after, the doggie treat in your pocket or the positive reinforcement and praise that may be the reward. Nothing energizes them more than the prize at the end of the rainbow. But take away the incentive and work them over and over without a happy goal in sight and suddenly the focus is lost. They are dragging their feet, they are too tired, they suddenly remember excuses that are mountains high. And that doggie? It will just lay down and go to sleep. You can’t teach an unmotivated dog a new trick.
However, when it comes to being our own personal coach, we forget to plan time in for celebrations. We keep plodding on and then wonder why we are exhausted, burnt out and have no motivation to continue on. Playing isn’t a luxury, it’s an important part of getting the job done!
Celebrating our victories together promotes teamwork and friendship. Sometimes we feel like we don’t deserve to celebrate. We minimize our accomplishments and successes and feel like we don’t deserve to take the time or we feel like we are bragging. What we DON’T take into consideration is that when we treat ourselves this way, what we are telling others is that when they celebrate -what they are really doing is being a slackard while WE are the hard worker. Well, hey martyr, get off the cross they need the wood to build a campfire! Of course, no one means to send this message. It is an unconscious, worn-out old tape that is stuck in our heads that we don’t even hear. It is a knee-jerk reaction of being very responsible and wanting to please everyone. After all, there IS too much work to be done, and SOMEBODY does have to do it. It just doesn’t have to be you right this minute. When we work as a team and then play as a team, everyone comes out a winner. So come on down and take a rest, it’s not only good for you, it’s good for everyone else too!
Celebrating makes the job more pleasant. Mary Poppins says “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, in the most delightful way.” Her secret to success is that she starts celebrating even WHILE she is working. Mary knows that as long as the work is getting done, there is no reason not to crank the tunes, start the singing and have some fun! Why NOT whistle while you work? Why NOT sing a happy tune? Why NOT make a game out of it? Who says we have to act like boring grown-ups all the time? Who says that the only way to get the job done is to take it seriously? Safety first…YES…seriously boring? NO WAY!!! Let the good times roll! For sure you will have more people willing to work with you the next time! Nobody lines up to work with Oscar the Grouch!
Looking Forward to Blowing out the Candles
Remember the last time you were at a small child’s birthday party? Remember how excited that child was when it came time to blow out the candles? Remember how all the other children leaned in close, wanting to be as big a part of the candles as they could be, a few of them even gathering up their lips to help with some participatory air? Children love to blow out the candles. They often even have to be reminded to make a wish! They are delighted, entranced, right there in the moment, their entire little bodies all jazzed up with glee. They don’t stop to think, “Gee, I’m not worthy of this attention and effort. Gosh everyone, really…you shouldn’t have… I didn’t work hard enough, I don’t deserve candles this year.”
Nope. They squeal. They clap their hands in appreciation. They scrunch up their little eyes and lips and blow… hard. Often, all they want to do is do it all over again. They’re in for the game. They’re in for the fun. They don’t second guess anything. They just let it all go.
When was the last time you really let go like that? When was the last time you were able to put down the Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda list and the To-Do list and went out and really played? Looked forward to doing something with the same total abandon as a child blowing out candles?
Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it
Life is difficult. That isn’t going to change. Not for any of us. We have to become ON PURPOSE about finding the gifts and presents that each day has to offer, untie the ribbons and celebrate. We need to remember what it feels like to play like children. It isn’t only the Kingdom of Heaven you have a better chance at, but the Kingdom here on Earth as well. If you are having too much trouble, follow the kids, follow the pets. They will remind you. Follow the laughter, follow the glee, follow the wagging tail. Remember what it feels like to play again.
Remember what it feels like to blow out the candles.