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The power of Reflection during Celebration.

Festivities are always fun. But this year its significance is stronger because they help us meet our physical and psychological needs. Something that’s been lacking in our lives since the strange COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we will explore the power of reflection during celebrations. Whether you are celebrating a promotion, a milestone or a holiday, it’s important to know the positive role of celebratory rituals.

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It’s that time of the year where the stores are set to put up Christmas lights, restaurants are ready to take the end of year party bookings, and we’re getting worried about what to gift our loved ones.

Holiday seasons are exciting but can be overwhelming. Trying to fit it all in and meet everyone’s (work, family, friends..) expectations can be nerve-wracking. In addition, we could also be disappointed that 2021’s gone by and there’s a gap between what we intended for the year and reality.

It’s easy to feel frazzled and focus on our disappointments than our accomplishments. Psychologist BJ Fogg, a behavioural scientist at Stanford University, found that adults have many ways to tell themselves “I did a bad job” and very few ways of saying “I did a good job.

Celebrations can wire new behaviours.

Success takes different shapes, sizes and forms. The problem is that we have a habit of NOT recognising them. Especially our small wins. We are so busy ‘doing stuff’ that each day feels like a conveyor belt of things that need to get done.

We don’t make time to think about celebrating anything beyond a quick nod to the bigger wins. Of course, we might celebrate birthdays, graduations, winning a contract, but what about our small wins? Do you even consider them noteworthy of celebration even quietly on your own?

Research by Harvard promotes the habit of reflecting and celebrating the smallest of successes. By doing so, we recognise, as does our brain, what’s worth our energy, time and resources. What actions and attitudes led us to success. It motivates us to replicate these actions and attitudes over and over again.

This is how we rewire our brains and develop a success-driven mindset. The power of progress is fundamental to human nature, but few of us understand it or know how to leverage incremental progress to achieve bigger goals. Be it career development goals or personal development goals.

When we make note of our wins, no matter how small, endorphins are released. The result of doing so goes beyond just feeling good. It reinforces behaviours so that we will get more of this feel-good feeling again.

If you don’t pay attention to your wins, you are training your brain to see those events as trivial.

Our brain begins to see them as unexciting or even mundane. Don’t we all know how tough it can get to stay motivated or focused on tasks that seem unexciting and mundane?

For me, feeding my 8-month-year-old son feels repetitive. But when I reflect on how this activity can be meaningful I begin to see the importance of it. Every time my son finishes a bowl of pureed veggies I am nourishing him with green goodness and cultivating a habit of healthy eating. This ultimately results in raising a healthy human who contributes to society.

To make this activity motivating we’ve started doing a celebratory clap at the end of every meal. We cheer each other for completing the task. This is now not just another daily activity. It’s also my chance to bond emotionally with my son.

When we celebrate our wins we also tend to build connections. A celebratory glass of wine or a sweet treat serves to help us build emotional bonds with those around us. Our brain starts to recognise these connections as important to us.

Dr Holly Parker, a lecturer at Harvard University, talks about the art and science of celebrating good times and the importance of capitalisation. Briefly put – it’s when people share joyful news and pleasant moments, even small ones, with others.

The power of celebratory rituals.

Whether it’s personal accomplishments (as discussed above) or holiday festivities, there’s a psychological benefit to performing celebratory rituals. Since we are getting closer to the holiday season, let’s consider our end of the year holiday rituals.

It’s natural to feel uncertain or anxious about 2022 as we say our goodbyes to 2021. Having a celebratory ritual for holidays can reduce stress and make you feel calmer.

It could be simple rituals like reciting a prayer or writing holiday cards to friends and family. Research confirms that the structured and repetitive actions involved in holiday rituals can act as a buffer against anxiety by making our world feel like a predictable place.

The benefit of a celebratory ritual can be felt not only in our personal lives but also at work. It could be a short motivational talk about employee personal development or a goodie bag full of festive delights. Simple rituals within a company can do wonders to boost employee morale.

If you don’t have celebratory rituals maybe, it’s time to create one. When we create celebratory rituals, it’s important to see that they are healthy. Healthy physically and emotionally. The holiday season might mean a ritual of overindulgence. Such rituals might do more harm than benefit.

Some healthy celebratory rituals worth considering :

• Include others: You could have a celebratory dinner with your supporters. People appreciate being appreciated. Celebrating success with others means nurturing meaningful relationships. This incentivises your supporters to help you in the future.

• Self-care: Caring for yourself is a great celebratory ritual. Take time off to treat yourself. End of the year holidays can be an opportune time to celebrate your many small wins. Celebrate in a way that speaks to you and what you enjoy most. Could be a massage or a spa treatment. Could be something you love. Like dancing or painting. Allocate time for you.

• Reflection: Meeting your sales target for the year is reason enough to celebrate, but it’s important to also reflect on the journey you took to get there. Taking time to do a dedicated session of reflective journaling of the year gone by will help you see how far you’ve come, even if you haven’t reached what you set out earlier during the year. It will help you stay motivated, which is the key to continued success.

On reflection as a celebratory ritual

Reflection will enable you to process and make meaning of all of the great (and not so great) personal and working experiences you’ve had in 2021. It can also encourage others to grow through our personal reflection.

Doing a session of reflective journaling that covers different areas of your life can help you identify triggers that help and hinder your progress.

1. Catalysts: You’ll be able to identify actions that directly support your progress.

2. Nourishers: You’ll be able to identify events and people that have championed your progress.

3. Inhibitors: You’ll be able to identify all your actions that fail to support or actively hinder progress.

4. Toxins: You’ll be able to identify all the events and people in the past year that have discouraged or undermined your progress.

It doesn’t always take a life coach to help us get to our goals. Sometimes, all we need is time and honest reflection. A celebratory ritual of Reflective Journaling is a great way to reinforce small changes that led to small wins— and pave the way for big successes.

As we head into the last months of 2021 why not take time to reflect on your priorities, values and goals. It’ll help you shape your 2022 the way you want it to be, rather than just letting it happen to you.


Tiny tips

1. Include others in your celebratory rituals.

2. Self-care by taking time out and doing activities that make you happy.

3. Take time to reflect on the year gone by. One effective way is by doing an end of the year reflective journaling session.


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