Celebrate Every Win — or Every Absent Loss

My back was sore yesterday. No big deal, except that I have a history of back trouble. It’s been feeling very good for a very long time. Until yesterday. Leading me to wonder if I was heading back down a familiar, unwelcome road. No thanks.

Then today, I woke up feeling normal. My disk had slipped back into place and I had slipped back into my regular routine. Yesterday, I could barely imagine ever lifting a basket of laundry again. Today, no problem. (I still didn’t. But I could have!)

It’s amazing how a day of discomfort floods a day of normalcy with gratitude. I have been very thankful all day.

In my work facilitating collaboration, I often pay attention to what is not said, or what could have been said, in addition to what’s actually being said. Today was like that — I was paying close attention to what was not happening in my body.Are you appreciative of what is not happening? There’s so much that could be true, or perhaps used to be true, that is no longer true. And that shift is worthy of notice and gratitude.

That absent thing may even be worthy of celebration. Celebration is not the same as gratitude, is it? It’s more active and visible, social and intentional. I was invited out for dinner last night in honor of a friend’s birthday. And it was truly a celebration — one that could easily have been missed, and so much better than sending her a quick text to wish her happy birthday. I appreciate that our mutual friend made the effort to mark the occasion.

I recently heard an entrepreneur share stories about the importance of celebrating every win on her company’s road to mammoth success. Actually stopping to celebrate each one. It occurred to me that I need to get much better at doing that. I tend to notice good things, maybe breathe a quick prayer of thanksgiving, then press on — rarely pausing to “throw the party.”

Her experience was a good reminder this past week, when I was swamped with work, missing deadlines, getting stuck in traffic, running several very tricky meetings and navigating a series of irritations (including the early appearance of snow where I live). I was stressed. But I was also blessed with laughs shared with my 90-year-old grandmother, safety on slippery roads despite no winter tires (they’re on now), a few terrific conversations with new colleagues and the best quarter of revenue in the history of my practice. How different might the week have been had those things not been true!

So now my challenge is to move beyond just noticing the good things and the absence of bad things. I need to find ways to actively celebrate them.

I suspect I’m not alone in this. How far have you and your team come? When was the last time you stopped to celebrate something, before getting so used to it that you barely notice its existence? I’d love to be inspired by your stories of doing so, right in the midst of the busyness and annoyances of real life. Share them in the comments.

In the meantime, you’ll find me doing laundry and planning a party.

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