What Is the Power of Celebration?
by Michael Feeley
What Is The Power of Celebration? — As published in The Huffington Post.
How happy and excited are you when you celebrate something?
You celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays — all kinds of personal and special occasions. You give a card or gift, call the person, throw a party, go to lunch or dinner and surprise someone with your love. You think and feel so deeply for the person or people, and it gives you out-and-out, crashing joy.
Those emotions, ceremonies, giving and big feelings of love are all gratitude.
The other morning our phone rang around 7:30 a.m., and the person said, “I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to call right away to wish you — happy anniversary!” It was 100-percent lush, open gratitude.
The power of celebration is this — you are grateful and happy.
Celebration and gratitude are one and the same.
Let’s get more specific
- When you celebrate someone’s birthday you’re saying — “I’m grateful you were born.”
- An anniversary — “I love you. I’m grateful for our marriage.”
- Holidays –Thanksgiving, the Forth of July and Bastille Day, all hail gratitude — “We’re independent. We celebrate living free of tyranny.”
- All religions celebrate a higher being… something larger than us… a mighty force that created the world. Terms don’t matter. Call it God, reality or the universe.
- Art is a celebration — Music like Mozart’s, “Alleluia,” is utter praise of the world in one word, sung in many different ways.
- The musical group, Three Dog Night, sings — “Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music… “
Modern dance icon Martha Graham expresses it this way,
♦ Think of the magic of that foot, comparatively small, upon which your whole weight rests. It’s a miracle and the dance is a celebration of that miracle.
Vincent Van Gogh painted “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers” out of love…
♦ Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.
Poet, Walt Whitman said,
♦ I celebrate myself, and sing myself.
Parades, customs, prayer, shows, rites, biograp hies, commemorations, forgiveness, traditions, flower blossoms, friendship… are all an intricate part of gratitude and celebration.
Celebration is active, specific and abundant, as you can see from these examples. Gratitude is simply another word for it. Celebration is gratitude.
Look around you right now. There is something to celebrate; many things to celebrate. Pick one and start an active moment of celebration, an object of gratitude, a taste of celebration, a touch of gratitude, a smell of celebration or a sound of gratitude.
There’s the sun. It rises each day and celebrates with light, heat and growth. We depend on the sun for life. Its brilliance and warmth is a celebration. The power is amazing and gratifying all at once.
Doing the things you love is a way of celebrating and participating in the power and love of gratitude.
For me it’s meditation, gardening, writing, music, being in love and playing with my dog, Tulla. She wakes up every day and always has celebration in her spirit. She’s not moody or tired. She looks forward to breakfast, going outside, and then brings a toy to play… racing and fetching. She shares her happy self. That’s gratitude.
Also — don’t limit your love to just an intimate circle of friends and family. What about spreading celebration to other people, heading into universal love and appreciation? Just like Earth Day.
Where’s the celebration and gratitude in struggle and pain?
Things can be tragic and unbearable in life sometimes, but when you get through it there is tremendous relief. You’re changed. You learn and grow and become strong. The relief is celebration and gratitude for living through hell.
Even in death, we celebrate a person’s life and meaning. Pain and loss have celebration because you feel so much, no matter how bad it may seem. The agony and hurt comes from loving and missing. When we remember and honor the life of someone, their memory is a celebration. You have gratitude to them for being in your life and your loving memories are a personal celebration and tribute to them.
Wikipedia says, “A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, respecting, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died.”
What ruins and spoils celebration?
Ingratitude. Selfishness. Greed. Bitterness. Resentment. Anger. Anything negative that tightens you up, restricts and diminishes goodness, kindness and pleasure, kills gratitude and celebration.
You know people who prefer pain and unhappiness. They like to complain about everyone and everything. They choose misery over celebration. It’s destruction — the opposite of celebration.
How does this feel to you? “Let’s cheat and fool people. Let’s treasure our greed and celebrate that. Let’s overcharge people and not care at all.”
Scrooge did it in Charles Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol.
– Enron did it.
– Bernie Madoff did it.
– Brooke Astor’s son did it. They took advantage of people — they took more than they deserved.
Scrooge did change. That’s the beauty of Dickens’ story — he made a new and better choice to celebrate life and give back. Gratitude is way bigger than greed.
What stands for who you truly are and how you want to live — being dishonest or being grateful and good?
How can you be honest and kind all the time, not off and on, not a tiny bit of giving when you feel like it… but all the time?
We make choices and take action every second of our lives, to be a certain way… to either be negative or positive; grateful or resentful; happy or miserable; complaining, cold and mean or sincerely warm, kind and happy. Choices have consequences.
People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state — it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle… Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one’s actions. — Abraham Joshua Heschel
The energy of celebration is tremendous! Why not make it the predominant energy, choice and force that runs your life? Play at it. Commit. Have fun and see the results. Reap the bounty and benefits of “gratitudbration” or “celebratude.” They’re exactly the same no matter how you mix them up.
Don’t put celebration off for another moment or for a special occasion. Tap into it. Step in and live the joyous power of celebrating and being grateful for life.
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
— Oprah Winfrey
Thanks – Michael