The 10-Day Celebration Experiment

Celebrate what you want to see more of.

Tom Peters

Don’t wait for the next birthday or holiday to celebrate, and I have research to back me up on this advice. Celebrations are a type of rite that go back as long as we have a record of human history, and there is a reason for it. Celebrations highlight moments in our life journey. They give us reason to pause and remember what is important to us an those around us. They also help us remember an revisit those moments for days, weeks, months, and years to come.

While past generations did’t have empirical research to support this human practice that transcends time and culture, there is a growing body of research today. It show that celebrations create positive emotion and help build resilience that is critical for flourishing through times of challenge or difficulty. By savoring a moment, event, or person through a celebration; we are infusing meaning and purpose into our lives.

Celebrations are the punctuation marks that make sense of the passage of time; without them, there are no beginnings and no endings. Life becomes an endless series of Wednesdays.

David Campbell, Center for Creative Leadership

Let’s not trust the researchers alone. How about a 10-day experiment to test this out for ourselves? Following is a simple procedure that challenges you to pause and celebrate 10 days in a row.

  1. So as not to interfere with days and events that you already commemorate with a celebration, pick a 10-day period in the near future when you would typically not participate in a celebration.
  2. Brainstorm a list of things that you could celebrate. It could be something that happened or is happening in school, work, home, or elsewhere. It could be as simple as the completion of reading a book, progress toward or achievement of a goal, an event in your community or the world that doesn’t typically get much attention, or maybe even just something in your life that is important to you and you would like to celebrate it. Give yourself time to write out an initial list of at least 20.
  3. From that list, select 10, assigning one of them to each of the 10 days that you’ve set aside for this experiment.
  4. For each one, select a way that you would like to celebrate. Celebrations could be as big as a party or as simple as a special meal, a song, a reading, a special toast, a chant, a dance, a mini-vacation (even if it is an hour in the evening), or whatever else comes to mind.
  5. You can do each of these alone, or consider inviting one or more others to be part of each celebration.
  6. Put the celebration on your calendar for each of the days, and make sure that you block off the time for it.
  7. Start celebrating!
  8. Consider a brief time to journal about your lessons and reflections at least every second or third day, and take extra time at the end for reflection.
  9. As you finish with the experiment and reflect on lessons learned, consider creating more celebrations, inviting others, and putting them in your calendar.

Tips:

  • When in doubt, keep it simple. A celebration can be a few minutes, a couple hours, or a full-day event. The important part is to make sure that you have some sort of celebration each of the ten days.
  • Don’t forget about the time to reflect on what you are thinking, feeling, and learning.
  • This is a great experiment to try with a friend or even a group of people.
  • As you think about how to celebrate each day, consider the many ways that people celebrate traditional holidays and events. That might give you some creative ideas. Of course, you can invite your family and friends into the fun of planning as well.

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