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Wait... Celebrating Can Save the World… !?

I’ve wanted to “save the world” since I was a child, from nursing fallen birds, to feeding the hungry, to ending war once and for all. When I was about five years old, my Grandpa Barbour told me to finish my dinner, because, “People are starving in Africa.” I wasn’t being a smart aleck when I offered to send them mine.

As humans, we have an inherent need to contribute to life, and sending a baked potato to a hungry kid half way around the world seemed like such a wonderful idea! Wouldn’t it be lovely if it were that simple?

I sometimes wish I could see the world like I did as a child; sometimes I still do see it that way. Like a tenacious sapling slowly splitting a boulder or a tender flower poking through a crack in the asphalt, reaching toward the Sun, a vision lives within me, a vision of a world where all living beings know they matter, a vision of “it’s not too late.”

At other times, the news, the horrors, the sheer enormity of what seems to so obviously need to shift and transform feels like a tsunami crushing the sapling, the rock, the flower and the asphalt of my vision in one mighty swooooosh!

What can we do to maintain resilience, to care for our own resourcefulness, so that when those tsunamis hit—and they will, we can still be a resource for ourselves and other living beings?

One of my favorite Bushy-Eyebrowed-Men-Who-Play-with-Puppets is Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Marshall helped prisoners find peace in themselves and agency with prison officials; he helped restore peace in warring tribes between folks who’d killed each others’ family members. Marshall was my very first NVC teacher, and I will love him forever.

In his book, The Heart of Social Change, Marshall ends with the following paragraph:

“Given the enormity of the social change that confronts us—the thing that I predict will give us the most hope and strength to make change happen is if we make sure that we learn how to celebrate. Let's build celebration into our lives and come from that. That's first. Otherwise we're going to get overwhelmed by the immensity. Out of a spirit of celebration I think we'll have the energy to do whatever it takes to bring about social change.”

If you are one of those children (of any age) who still believes that the world is beautiful, and you want to do all you can to take care of it, and yet you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it all, perhaps listen to Marshall and begin to “build celebration into (your life)” with at least a small Practice of Celebration.

It can be simple. In fact, the simpler it is, the more likely you are to continue the practice. Here are a few suggestions:

Celebration Practice

Each night, before you go to sleep, name:

  • 3 things you feel grateful for,

  • 3 things you did well today.

Then think of someone you love (perhaps a pet, someone living or passed, a tree, etc.), and imagine sending them some of your celebratory energy.

If it doesn't work for you to do this before going to sleep, use a different mnemonic device. Perhaps every time you stop at a red light, you think of something you've done well. And each time you wash your hands, you think of something you're grateful for. Or, if you have a cell phone, you can set a little alarm, a reminder to celebrate.

Remember this is not a selfish practice; your resilience matters, and celebrating is one way that you care for the resource that you are.

Also, you don't have to do this alone. Sharing celebrations with another places attention on what’s wonderful. And what a lovely topic of conversation!

Would you like to practice right now? If so, simply stop reading and think of 3 things you feel grateful for, then 3 things you did well in the last 24 hours, and then someone you love. (Go ahead. I’ll still be here.)

So, to answer the question, “Celebrating can save the world… !?” I don’t know. I question if the world needs saving. I do know that celebrating helps me to do more and be more.

If you would like to share a celebrations, please feel free to post in the comment section below. How do you feel after trying this practice? Do you feel lighter? Maybe a little more energy? How is it helpful?

Here’s one from me: I'm celebrating you for reading my words. Without you, I’d have no reason to write them. Yay, team!

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