Peace requires the willingness to celebrate. The willingness to celebrate ourselves, celebrate our friends, celebrate our families, celebrate our communities, and even celebrate Life itself.
Recently I was reflecting on milestone events in my life and I noticed a pattern. Over the years of coming and going and doing and undoing, much of my success went unnoticed. When I say unnoticed, I mean, others might have noticed, but I didn’t.
Now I can see that somewhere along the way I developed a bit of a martyr syndrome. I was often accomplishing tasks that were “easy,” in addition to tasks that were daring, bold and required courage. What I wasn’t allowing in my life, at that time, was the opportunity to recognize my success, let alone celebrate it.
Let’s be clear about the definition of success I am working with here. Success as defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” I am deliberately leaving out anything that has to do with money. We’ll save that topic for another day.
For now, please indulge me in the definition of success as an accomplishment of something. Like learning to shoot a bow and arrow and aiming for a target. Then hitting the target in the bull’s eye or certainly striking within the center two or three rings.
I am inspired by people that aim themselves at life, pull back the bow of their talents, skills, or desires, and then set their eye on a target: Ready, aim, fire. This is the type of accomplishment that lights me up now.
It’s also the type of accomplishment that I passed off as “old hat” previously. You see, once we get good at aiming at a target over and over again, somewhere along the way, that target looks too easy for us. If it looks too easy, we tend to minimize the value of hitting the target. It’s like an old hat that we’ve treasured and worn out to the point that it sits ready in the closet for use, but no longer excites us to wear. We stop celebrating how great we look in that hat or how much that hat has meant to us over the years. We might even think that it’s no longer special.
This is why I am suggesting: celebrate everything. I believe that each accomplishment is a success in its own right, worthy of a high-five, a moment of reflection, or at least a smile and an internal “good job”. Now, I’m not saying we should change the world of sports or create a trophy for every accomplishment and that we’re all #1. That has a self-image impact that is too fickle to contend with in this moment.
I am saying that that we should be willing to recognize ourselves. Honestly, if we recognize ourselves, then no one else has to.
Why do I say that celebration is required for more peace? Well, for one thing, if we keep walking around with martyr complexes, the only celebration possible is after death. And frankly, we won’t be here then. If you remember the martyr stories of Socrates, Joan of Arc, the Souliot Women, or Nathan Hale, the only celebration possible for them was AFTER their life was over. They did not have an opportunity to bring their success with them. In these and other cases, the generations after them are the only ones to celebrate them.
They did not have an opportunity to celebrate while they were here and yet, they only wanted one thing. In the words of Nathan Hale, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” All of the martyrs that we know of were willing to set their talents, skills, or desires above the opinions of any person, any idea, or any belief system. That was their greatest success.
I endeavor to repeat their success and then add one small variation. I choose to speak for peace, to listen for peace, to amplify peace. I am successful by giving my one life and by celebrating that choice. I celebrate my own voice now. I celebrate the voice of others who stand for a more peace-filled world. I celebrate others who choose to live lives they love living, and by doing so, they amplify peace in the moment they are living.
Have you ever seen a couple in love? Or the grin on the face of new parents when their three-month-old baby smiles at them and laughs? Or witnessed a child running with open arms to be received by her grandparents?
I see the love exhibited between friends when one has cancer and is called to take death-defying treatments to stay alive while the others rally with meals of support or words of encouragement. I have seen when a community rallies around a track star who is injured in the last leg of a marathon. I have witnessed the strength and generosity of three grey-haired men picking up another adult man with his wheelchair and conveying him up sixty stairs to reach a train platform when there was no elevator. There are men and women everywhere who give a portion of their paycheck to a child or village or community somewhere around the world, to someone they’ve never met, and likely will never meet.
Human beings are delightful in so many ways. We should celebrate these moments. Big and small. As if each one of these moments is a successful achievement of aiming at more love in the world and hence more peace.
You might consider some questions to explore, to find out if you, too, can expand the flow of peace in your daily life:
Do you suffer to be admired?
Do you do something really great and then make it out to be no big deal?
Do you give yourself a high-five inside when you hit a target you set for yourself?
Until further notice, celebrate everything.
It is possible to begin your day in celebration. What if you celebrated waking up? That is celebrating Life itself. There are those that did not wake up today. You did. That is worth celebrating.
What about celebrating your friend who arrived to your lunch date—he or she is still here, too?
What about celebrating that you went for a walk today?
Or made lunch for your kids?
Or got up and completed another day of work that allowed you to pay for the life you are living?
Give yourself some credit for hitting the target you set out for yourself. You used your skills, your talents, and your desires to move you through this day, no matter the setbacks, opportunities, or challenges it presented.
I, for one, am celebrating you. I hope you will celebrate you, too.