Ask A ... Celebrator with Patsy Culp

WHY IS CELEBRATION SO IMPORTANT?

Celebrations have been uniting the human race since we came into being. Take a moment to picture what it might have been like when the cavemen (and women) first discovered fire and bid farewell to eating raw meat forever. I envision loads of cheer, lots of laughter, plenty of hugs - and most likely, some serious fist pounding to the chest. That shared experience must have been phenomenal! A new discovery, a sense of community — pure joy.

You see, the act of celebrating, especially with others, leads to connection. Celebration fulfills the basic, yet critical, human need of belonging. And, as professor and famed author Brene Brown puts it, “We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” The good news is by simply celebrating what and who we have in our lives, we can cure the longing-for-belonging epidemic.

I’M LONGING FOR BELONGING, WHERE DO I BEGIN?

This might seem counterintuitive, but start with you. A business coach once told me, “talk to yourself like you would your own best friend.” I’ve never forgotten that. We’re so quick to criticize ourselves, put ourselves down, and beat ourselves up. What would happen if we gave ourselves a loving pep talk once a day? Hint, a better outlook often leads to a better outcome {Click to tweet}. And, guess what? When we’re feeling better about ourselves, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to reach out and connect with others.

BUT, LIFE ISN’T ALWAYS SUNSHINE & RAINBOWS … HOW DO I CELEBRATE WHEN LIFE SERVES ME A SH*T SANDWICH?

Trust me. I totally get that. I’ve experienced my share of heartache and loss. And, moments of hardship are, well — HARD. When you lose someone you love, the check doesn’t come in, or you’re hit with shocking news, it’s natural to grieve. You must feel through those feelings of anguish and sorrow. But, here is the thing to remember: there is always room for gratitude. Be grateful for the depth of love you shared with the one that you lost. Be grateful for the new possibilities that are opening as a result of that door closing. Be grateful for the compassion that arises in others during tough times. Be grateful for the opportunity to learn from these challenges. Be thankful for the resilience they’re helping you build. Gratitude and celebration go hand-in-hand. To be grateful is not to say that everything is great, it just brings awareness to the good things we already have. {Click to tweet}

OK, WELL, WHAT CAN I DO TO FOSTER CELEBRATION IN MY DAILY LIFE?  

Start by celebrating each new day. Before you fully open your eyes in the morning, take a moment to mentally note all the things you are grateful for, even if it’s only your breath. Spiritual teacher and Hay House Founder, Louise Hay often says, “If you can’t think of anything else, you can always be grateful for your breath.” If you’re breathing, that means you are ALIVE. And, that’s worth celebrating, don't you think?

Say, “thanks.” A LOT. We all love (and deserve) to feel appreciated. Express your gratitude when others are kind. Send handwritten notes, phone your friends and loved ones, show compassion to the tellers you meet, tip the baristas pouring love into your mug, and give thanks to the strangers who hold open doors.

Do something unexpected and kind for another. Treat the stranger behind you in line to a cup of joe, deliver freshly baked cookies to a friend or neighbor, send flowers to a loved one just because.

Acknowledge & appreciate the “negatives.” Life’s challenges are inevitable, but it’s all in how you respond. When you look at life through the lens of “this is just another learning opportunity,” you can see what otherwise might have been considered a “negative,” as an opportunity for growth and expansion. (Remember, growth is not always easy).

Write it down. Take a few minutes each afternoon before you close out your workday to celebrate at least three things you accomplished - no matter how big or small. Remember, it’s the culmination of little things, over a long period of time, that add up to the big-band-and-balloon worthy celebrations.

End your evenings on a high note. Why not end your day with celebration, just as you started? Research shows that when we focus on gratitude we can truly transform our outlook on life and our ability to more deeply enjoy what we already have — plus, we stress less, are less likely to be depressed, more likely to exercise more consistently and make greater progress toward achieving personal goals. Sounds pretty good right?

All it takes is a little celebration. No doctor’s note required.


Patsy Culp is the founder of And Celebrate, an event styling & strategy company dedicated to helping women soulpreneurs transform their big event ideas into high impact, meaningful experiences. She has her family to thank for instilling the importance of celebration and belonging into her psyche. Growing up, there was always an excuse to celebrate — the first day of school; the last day of school; the dogs’ birthday; two weeks spent huddled together during the ice storm of ‘98. Patsy carried this penchant for celebration into her teens and beyond. Today, she has made it her life’s work to bring people together, foster a sense of community, and forge stronger connections through each event she helps plan. Born and raised in a small town in Maine, she is now a proud Rhode Island transplant. She and her husband reside on the East Side of Providence and love celebrating everything Little Rhody has to offer.

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