Looking for Happiness – Time to Celebrate?

We manage to fill our calenders with numerous opportunities to celebrate. Sometimes to mark personal achievement, milestones such as birthdays, or national festivals. But does celebrating make us happier?

Last month following an unexpected and dramatic win over Scotland, the Welsh rugby team celebrated their victory at their team hotel. Unfortunately for one player, Andy Powell, celebrations went a bit too far. He was arrested driving a golf buggy three miles from the hotel and failed an alcohol breath test. He has since been suspended from the Welsh team…

So how do you celebrate? Do you go out on a bender and end up engaging in dangerous behaviour that ruins your career and makes you the laughing stock of the country?!

Festivals we Celebrate

In We all Need to Celebrate I wrote about some of the different ways we celebrate different national or even international festivals.

Bonfire night, or Guy Fawkes night, celebrates a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament (our seat of Government) and the King of England in 1605. You could argue that Guy Fawkes, the plot leader, was an early terrorist and wonder at how different life may be today had he succeeded! When I was a child I loved Bonfire Night because we celebrated in our back garden and let off fireworks at will. Today, because of many serious accidents (to children in particular), Bonfire Night is mainly celebrated at organised displays (which I find very boring!)

Other festivals have either quite bizarre roots or involve very bizarre behaviour! Hallowe’en – celebrated in many countries – is perceived as a pagan festival of the dead, although it has its roots in earlier Christian festivals.

I only read yesterday that the annual Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire has been cancelled – apparently on crowd safety concerns! As you might guess from the video, quite a few competitors get hurt.

It seems the popularity of the event (which dates back to at least the nineteenth century)  has led to its current downfall – thousands of people coming to watch. Chasing a “specially made” 8lb cheese down a hill doesn’t exactly get me too excited, but then the combination of “speed” and “out of control” tend to make me ill, rather than happy.

Happy Birthday

Many celebrations, such as birthdays and Christmas,  involve giving gifts. But we also try to mark with some sort of experience – eating and drinking frequently being involved!

As I mentioned in my newsletter, A belated happy 50th birthday to Tony Robbins. Nice of him (or perhaps his marketing team!) to send me an email letting me know this, and how I can also celebrate and “unleash the power” within me at the same time. I passed.

Tony was born on February 29th 1960, as was my sister Susan. Both have had only 12 proper birthdays to celebrate. Susan did not want to make a fuss of being 50 and unfortunately doesn’t have a “list” of admirers like Tony.  Fortunately (unlike a previous year!) her husband did remember and she both received a present and celebrated by going out for a family meal.

Enjoy the Experience

The attraction of the festivals I have mentioned is they all involve an experience unique to them.  To participate, even as a spectator, gives you an experience you are not likely to get any other day of the year.

Research has shown that spending money on experiences has a far greater positive impact on happiness than spending it on material goods.  Whilst the impact of a new item soon fades as they become rather shabby, we remember the good parts of experiences, tending to filter out being stuck in the car park afterwards.

And quoting Richard Wiseman again

Experiences promote one of the most effective happiness inducing behaviours – spending time with others. Sociability may be part of the experience itself, or might happen when you tell people about the occasion afterwards.

If you are going to spend money on material things rather than experiences, then a celebration encourages you to spend it on other people.  And yet again research has demonstrated that people report feeling happier having spent money on gifts for other people rather than themselves.

Mothering Sunday

I complete this having just taken my mother and mother in law out, with my wife, for a meal.  Its the first “Mothers Day” we have celebrated without any of our own children (who all remembered to send cards!). Again it was a nice experience and I’m sure for all of us more long lasting than the flowers that tend to be exchanged.

The hotel we went to was the same one we held our wedding reception in, almost 25 years ago. I need to think of some way to celebrate that, perhaps a bit different to going out for a meal. Any suggestions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you celebrate, and is it a recipe for happiness?

Jan - queenofkaos March 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

Hi David, I had to turn the video off! I don’t have the stomach for cheese rolling either I suppose :0)

I’m not big on celebrations – my favourite in the past has been Easter because we always do an easter treasure hunt with clues, it was a real hoot as the kids would ‘herd’ from one clue to the next. My kids loved it and my nieces and nephews used to come, but they are all older now. My kids still request the hunt and my son made one for my daughter’s birthday last year too – it was a lot of fun. And I’ve always loved Easter colours. They remind me of my grandmother and Easter with her when I was young.

Great picture of you and the girls for mother’s day, that is a great tradition :0) Instead of going to the hotel for a meal for your anniversary, maybe you could book a room, enjoy a night away and live it up! If not this year, it would make a nice idea for your 25th anniversary if you guys enjoy that kind of thing.

That’s something I do with the kids for their birthdays sometimes – we rent a room at a hotel with a pool (they are in the winter), they have friends over and have a blast.
.-= Jan – queenofkaos´s last blog ..I Brake For Happiness =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Thanks for the comment and suggestions. Easter is just a bit of a chocolate festival here! I certainly think we need to go away for our anniversary – although certainly not taking the kids with us on this occasion!

andrew @ Blogging Guide March 15, 2010 at 10:18 am

I would normally celebrate by eating out with friends.

Last year my wife and I celebrated our 25 years of marriage and we visited Kenya – awesome place.

My name links to our Kenyan holiday slide show – if you have a few minutes to spare. The music starts straight away – sorry!

.-= andrew @ Blogging Guide´s last blog ..How You Can Win $6921 In Prizes When Two Social Media Business Players Get Together =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Thanks for the link & comment, I did enjoy the show and will see what I can do with slide.com in future (never heard of them before). We’ve booked a family holiday in June – the kids still want to come with us! – so cannot afford anything major in August. But we’ll go away somewhere – even if its just Worthing!

Mitch March 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm

The older I get the less sprited the celebrations get as seemingly more work gets put in to get to the celebrating part so sometimes something as simple as kicking back and relaxing is the best ..on a side not, I can’t believe they cancelled Cheese Rolling
.-= Mitch´s last blog ..Orlando Magic Vs. Charlotte Bobcats 03/14/10: Dan’s Free Pick Against The Spread NBA Basketball =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Did you see the video? I realise as it wasn’t directly linked in the post it may not be apparent that the people crashing down the hill were chasing a cheese!
I agree, as I’ve got older I’ve been less inclined to make any effort to celebrate, or do what simplest. Unfortunately we end up doing the same with so many activities we embrace when younger. Thanks for commenting

Bruce "the Mid-Life Mentor" March 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I tend to celebrate for two reasons: First because it makes the other people in my life happy. I don’t mind doing for them, in fact it brings me peace. I don’t prefer to celebrate just because someone declared a day a holiday but rather because there is something special I want to commemorate with others. The second reason is because we can. I like to eat drink and be merry when ever I can. Life is short and seems to speed by. There is much we have to do, and when we do it and then find a crack of time, I think we should enjoy the company of family and friends and unwind with laughter and a little good food. Special days to thank your wife, Mother, Father, Siblings and children don’t have to wait for nationally declared holidays. You should do what you want, that brings you and them peace.
.-= Bruce “the Mid-Life Mentor”´s last blog ..SKIN CANCER-5 FACTS TO KNOW =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Thanks for your reflections, especially “…because we can. I like to eat drink and be merry when ever I can. Life is short and seems to speed by.”. Very much my sentiments, a great way to enjoy the company of family and friends.

Beat Schindler March 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm

A life without celebration – nay, a day without celebration – would be like one hand clapping and would a gaping void. Reasons people don’t celebrate are as diverse, and often the same, as the reasons they have for worry, stress and unhappiness. Why, I’m even going to celebrate the fact your post has come around to remind us of the time to celebr8.
.-= Beat Schindler´s last blog ..Personal Growth The Easy Way: Focus On Your Strengths =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Thanks for your “up-Beat” comment. I agree with your sentiments, those who over worry, etc will always find a reason not to celebrate.

Michelle Vandepas March 15, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Let the celebrations begin! my style?…I prefer to travel , go out to eat, small parties. No Chinese rolling for me, I’ll leave that to the the eccentric English – dontcha just love em.

As for you? take a risk man, head to France, come to Vegas, Stay in bed 24 hours. Do something different! eating out isn’t worth 25 years, that’s for regular years. (I’m 29 years soon – congrats!)
.-= Michelle Vandepas´s last blog ..Wild Dolphins In Hawaii =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Rolling CHEESE is one thing, I don’t think “Chinese” rolling would have lasted into this century without a few objections!!!
I like the idea of both France and Vegas, need to start saving! Thanks for your comment.

Michelle Vandepas March 15, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Laughing at myself so hard to think of a Chinese rolling! LOL
.-= Michelle Vandepas´s last blog ..Wild Dolphins In Hawaii =-.

Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny March 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Hello David,
What a delight to find that the cheese rolling people have a facebook fan page! I’m always on the lookout for funny facebook fan pages to share with people. What a shame this year’s event is canceled. Spoiling people’s fun for safety reasons after hundreds of years of doing it without interference.

Well, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

You bring up an interesting point about celebrating. Everybody is different in how they like to celebrate or be acknowledged on special occasions. Managing expectations and being clear about what is meaningful is important. This all reminds me of “the five love languages” conversation that came up on Valentine’s Day. People feel loved or receive love in different ways. It’s important to sort out what’s wanted or else risk disappointing people.
.-= Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny´s last blog ..Stay Young Tips so you can say “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille” =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Thanks again for coming up with an interesting comment. Yes, not everyone likes to party. Although some avoid celebration through worry, as I discussed above with Beat, some people have no desire to step outside their comfort zone.
I’m intrigued by the “five love languages” – tell me more or suggest a link where you have discussed this?

Corinne Edwards March 15, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Hi David –

An interesting and well researched article.

Cheese rolling looks like fun -wonder why it is dangerous. I can see the nuts who run with the bulls in Spain as defintely a risk to your health – but cheese?

We celebrate everything in my family. And until recently, I hosted it all. Then – Surprise –

My daughter in laws have taken over a few holidays. (have all boys) But I hang on to Christmas and Christmas Eve. Exhausting to have both but they are my favorites and I won’t give them up.

Confession here:

I always buy myself a birthday present. Don’t tell anyone. Who deserves it more?
.-= Corinne Edwards´s last blog ..WOMEN’S CLOTHES – ripped or ripped off? =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 7:58 pm

That’s another argument against presents! My wife ends up buying herself clothes (doesn’t trust me, with reason) and currently all our children, plus nieces and nephews, want money to buy their own gifts.
Your family celebrations sound far more organised than mine. I must admit I enjoy hosting and cooking a meal at Christmas, the more the merrier. Thanks for your compliments and comment.

Debbie March 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Hi David,

To me celebrations are important because they build memories. I like just getting together with family or friends and enjoying the moments of the day.
I find it sad that they are giving up the cheese roll. (That was rather intertaining) Yes, people can get hurt, but you can walk across the street and get hurt. It seems that instead of celebrating today we are suppose to think if we could get hurt first.
As for me I like to celebrate every chance I get. I have a son-in-law that was an only child and raise by a single mother. He is now learning how fun family can be with our celebrations. Everyone needs to celebrate not for the gifts(which are fun), but for the memories. That is what it is all about.

.-= Debbie´s last blog ..Love Your Siblings Unconditional and Choose Happiness =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I think that word “memories” is so important, it goes a bit deeper than my use of “experiences”. Celebrations are a great opportunity to create memories – get them right, make them a bit different, and you don’t need photographs to remember. Thanks for the comment

Lance Nelson March 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Hi Daid,

Our lives are hugely enriched by events- and cheese rolling brings a massive smile to my face. Look at that mankini man: why should we allow others to spoil so much fun? It’s an invasion fo common freedoms to take on risks. Not that we should encourage anything too risky but i bet the injuries are minor.

Bruce makes an excellent point; that we should celebrate when it feels right — rather than been told told when to by the media and consumerism. I celebrate when happy and relish that moment. these are the best times for me.

But maybe that’s my excuse for almost always getting Valetines day wrong — expectations whether we like them or not have to be addressed!

a very interesting artcile that is part of ant incredibly helpful site, you deserve every success.
.-= Lance Nelson´s last blog ..Bansko Snow Videos: A Magical Day =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Thanks for your comment and kind words. No more dangerous than skiing, although at least with skiing you don’t need people to catch you at the bottom!!

The problem with fixed days – like valentines, mothers day, easter – is they become more commercial and manufactured (and prices of flowers go up!). Its better to create your own variations on them – say celebrate the day you first met?

Joel March 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm

After stopping crying with laughter from the video, the rest of the post made me smile too. I’m not big in celebrating things, I think it makes things more special when I actually do celebrate. I can be accused of being miserable but I’m just waiting for the “proper” moment.
.-= Joel´s last blog ..WordPress Theme Confusion? How To Choose A Premium Theme For Your Blog =-.

David March 15, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Glad you enjoyed the video, I must admit it had the same effect on me! I think you’ve got to get the balance right, if celebrating becomes an everyday thing then it ceases to be a memorable experience. thanks for the comment

Amy LeForge March 16, 2010 at 2:34 am

I couldn’t watch any more of the video either, but if people want to get hurt rolling down a hill I say more power to them. I’m still laughing at Chinese rolling though. LOL. Thanks for the laugh!!

Around here, we tend not to celebrate much as we’re more laid back. To us, a happy day is one where everyone just hangs out, has yummy snacks, and spends time doing something we enjoy together. Hubby and I don’t do gifts to each other much, but we do cards sometimes. Or one of us will buy something…it depends. It’s more about making memories.

If I were celebrating my 25th (going on 15 this year) I think I’d love a quiet dinner at a really nice restaurant and time to chat with my sweetie. Hope you come up with the best plan for you and your wife!
.-= Amy LeForge´s last blog ..FFYF: End of a Tough Week Edition =-.

David March 16, 2010 at 8:29 am

Thanks for your comment, as you say “Its more about making memories.” But the trick is to endure the “doing something we enjoy together” happens. I found over the years its easy to let apathy rule, and with children reaching a consensus can be difficult (not that you need me to tell you!). It does take work and forward thinking to ensure celebrations do create memories.

Lisa March 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

the video was hysterical!

Your post really made me think. As I get older, I tend to celebrate less, and make less time for celebrating. That’s probably not a good thing. I think I’ll make an effort this year to celebrate a bit more. Life is joyous, and so so short, making a bit more time for celebrating is important. Great stuff!
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Welcome March! =-.

David March 16, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for your comment and reflection. I couldn’t agree with you more, I’m quite aware that as I’ve got older the inclination “to make a fuss” has faded. Lets make that extra effort.

Raymond Chua March 19, 2010 at 4:42 am

Hi David,

I celebrate every little success in my life and I feel so good about that. Some people thought that I’m crazy but in the end, I don’t need their approval, do I?
.-= Raymond Chua´s last blog ..The Stairs of Life =-.

David April 1, 2010 at 8:50 pm

You certainly don’t need their approval, go forth and celebrate anything!

Sherri--Being the Change I Wish to See March 21, 2010 at 7:14 pm


I saw the cheese rolling on the news, and watching the video had me laughing, holding my sides, and tears were running down my face. I almost hit the floor I was laughing so hard.

I used to be into holiday and birthday celebrations, but after Katrina, some of us have lost our desire to celebrate anything. Now that the New Orleans Saints won the Superbowl 44, it really lifted a lot of us up. The Saints had never gone to the Superbowl in the 43 years they’ve existed. We were so excited when they won the championship to go to Superbowl 44, we were really happy to just get to go. When the Saints won it was over the top. I’m not an American football fan, but I watched the game and was yelling and jumping up and down.

I think I’m back to some celebrating again. The Saints win was like lifting a huge cloud off all of us. I wish I could have gone to New Orleans for the celebration, but I had to work.

.-= Sherri–Being the Change I Wish to See´s last blog ..Ugandan kill-the gays bill part 11: not to become law =-.

David March 21, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for your comment and sporting reflections. Interestingly the local soccer team I support are also nicknamed the Saints and I can recall vividly celebrating in our lounge with my Dad when they won the F.A. Cup – in 1976! Sport has a way of transforming peoples lives and lifting whole nations and communities.

Keller Hawthorne March 22, 2010 at 7:00 am

I love the point about investing in events rather than material items – the events in my life have stayed with me – the techno gadgets, clothes, etc haven’t.

This year I will be celebrating Mother’s Day as a mother-to-be – I’m excited!
.-= Keller Hawthorne´s last blog ..Simply Fresh Themes Has Officially Opened! =-.

David March 22, 2010 at 8:27 am

Thanks for your comment; once you are a mother celebrations will take on a new dimension! It will be interesting trying to teach your children to value experiences ahead of toys!

Keller Hawthorne March 26, 2010 at 4:48 am

Tell me about it. I know I was a VERY materialistic child. Need to figure out how to avoid that…
.-= Keller Hawthorne´s last blog ..The Mystery of the Missing PageRank – Part One =-.

Teagan March 24, 2010 at 6:25 pm

I got to the point in my life where I thought celebrations were more trouble than they were worth. I think because at big holidays, like Christmas for instance, we build so much expectations into them, and expect everything to be perfection. But I’ve come to realize that a) we don’t have to have elaborate planned celebrations, and b) NOT celebrating is just as bad as rigidly planned events that are so much work.

And this weekend I was at a seminar, and I think they’ve got the idea . . . we need to celebrate MORE, and spontaneous celebrations over life’s little events are a great idea. Give someone a little handwritten note about how much you appreciate them, a pat on the back & “great job!”, a hug…. it may sound cliche but it’s true… little things can mean a lot!

And as pointed out… it’s all about making memories. Those celebrating experiences are important for that!
.-= Teagan´s last blog ..Another Food Recall =-.

David April 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for you great comment, yes we don’t have to celebrate with big planned events nor just holidays.
Saying thank you, writing little notes, giving hugs – these are all great ideas – perhaps worth a blog post of their own one day!

dane March 6, 2012 at 12:19 am

Thank you!

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