It's official: celebrating is good for you
We live in weird times. I don’t think there’s any getting away from that.
A time when a narcissistic windbag is in charge of the most powerful country in the world and treats the whole thing like a domestic spat over who gets to have the TV remote control for the evening.
A time when ‘Great’ Britain becomes internationally laughed at for being the country that got tricked by a bus.
A time when the most comforting thing we can think of to do is to watch a Youtube loop of kittens falling off a table.
Bizarre times, indeed.
No wonder, so many of us are reporting increased levels of anxiety, depression and stress.
It feels like the world is squeaking its way towards a shit-filled canal in a rusty shopping trolley with a wonky wheel.
To paraphrase Eliot, the world’s going to end, not with a bang or a whimper, but with a tweet: ‘Oops. Pressed wrong button. What now?’
I’m sure I’m not alone when I wake up in the middle of the night, empty packet of chocolatestuck to my cheek, screaming, ‘Shit! How do we stop all of this?’
Bizarrely enough, (and I did say these were weird times, did I not?) there are studies that suggest we need to start celebrating more.
Yep. You read that right. We need to celebrate more.
It wouldn’t be amiss to think, what is worth celebrating? The end of free healthcare? The end of human rights? The end of any decent summers? The fact that the doomsday clock is officially two ticks away from total annihilation?
But, nonetheless, it’s official. Celebrating is good for us.
Studies conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California and the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, have shown that people who celebrate and feel grateful gain all kinds of benefits.
Yes, apparently there are loads of benefits. Basically it’s like some kind of super gym-membership you can sign up to, only it’s free. You come out the other end (if you can continue the good work past January) like some well-oiled, pumping superhero glowing with a positivity that rubs off on all the people around you.
Doesn’t matter what you feel gratitude for. It could just be something as simple as the ray of sunshine bouncing off an oil-slicked puddle creating a momentary rainbow. It could be that there are just enough cornflakes left in the packet for a full bowl.
The point is that if you are able to count your daily blessings in whatever shape or form you find them, you will tend to suffer less from depression and stress; you will tend to have a stronger immune system; you will tend to exercise more consistently and you will tend to be more creative and motivated. In short, you will become the kind of person who is more likely to achieve your personal goals.
Goals like changing the world, maybe?
It seems to make sense, doesn’t it, in a slightly bizarre kind of way.
Being a revolutionary and working for change isn’t just about being fuelled by anger and a sense of burning injustice; there also needs to be an unbreakable sense of optimism about your fellow humans and a feeling that your actions can and will have a positive outcome, if you just persevere.
Two things that the Daily Fail and our political system have been very successful in eroding recently.
And before you start worrying about whether this is just another way of pumping up your own self-interested bubble, one of the findings of the study showed that people who celebrate more tend to reach out to others more (perhaps to fill up their glass and share the joy).
Apparently, people who celebrate more have stronger social relationships and are able to empathise with other humans more. (You can reread A Christmas Carol, if you don’t believe me).
And empathy is a healthy thing, surely?
Because isn’t it a good thing to remind ourselves that there are brave, resourceful, wise, kind humans out there who enrich our lives rather than threaten them?
Isn’t it a constructive revolutionary act to build longer tables rather than higher walls?
So what are we waiting for?