When I tell you what I’m about to tell you, you’re either going to think I’m really freaking cool, or you’re going to lose some respect for me.
So I was listening to Howard Stern the other day…
That’s right, it’s not just Ted Talks. I listen to Howard on my walks with Nolabees, too. The other day he interviewed Kevin Hart, and something Kevin said struck me. I will admit that what stood out to me in the interview probably isn’t what stood out to most listeners. Howard opened up the conversation describing how Kevin’s massive success is amazing and rare for someone with his upbringing. Howard congratulated him, saying, “It is remarkable when somebody beats the odds and becomes this successful. It’s a reason to celebrate.”
Kevin replied, “Yes, of course there’s a reason to celebrate, but I think you celebrate when you’re done. . . . I’m nowhere near done. I’ve got a lot left to do.” He continued to describe his “dreams and aspirations” of becoming “a mogul.”
This gave me pause. How wonderful is it that he still has dreams, when it seems he has already achieved so much!
But I can’t help but challenge the idea that you celebrate when you’re done. Why not celebrate every step of the way?
I used to subscribe to the idea that we shouldn’t celebrate until we’re done, until we’ve arrived. It wasn’t conscious on my part, but I think many of us were taught to believe this. Many of us are always pushing towards the finish line, never stopping until we reach our highest accomplishment. But this type of push hurts us. We are so busy planning and anticipating the future, that we forget to enjoy right now. We forget to appreciate what we have and who we are, and instead we often end up feeling like it’s not enough– or we are not enough.
Tell me you’ve thought the following:
- Things will get better after I finish dental school. No more teachers breathing down my neck. No more exams and boards. I’ll finally be free, and I’ll finally get paid to do what I’m doing now!
- Now that I’m out in the real world, this is even more stressful. Dentistry is still so new and surprisingly harder than school was, but I’m sure I just need one year under my belt to feel more comfortable.
- Wow, it’s still really hard after 1 year. When I reach 5 years, I will be a master, and it will all finally come naturally.
This cycle can go on forever, whether it’s about career status, money, possessions, success, or relationships. Every time we reach a milestone or a goal, we get exactly what we wanted, but it is never enough. At every step, we keep wanting more.
So where does it end?
If we continue to celebrate along the way, we “arrive” every time we celebrate. If we wait until we hit the very pinnacle of success, we’ll die never having cherished any of the amazing moments we’ve experienced throughout our lifetimes. Celebrating won’t make us complacent and lazy. It will fill us up and drive us to keep going. But more than that, the celebration will help us appreciate what we have instead of worrying about what we don’t have.
During my career change, celebrating the small things each day is precisely what helped me change my attitude and my life. I remember celebrating the first time I took a Zumba class at the gym. While it seems like such a silly, insignificant event, walking into a new class for the first time was a little intimidating. I feared feeling awkward and uncoordinated, but because it was unimportant, I pushed past those worries and did it anyway. The more I celebrated these small accomplishments, the easier it was to face the awkwardness that might come along with trying the more significant accomplishments.
Over time celebrating helped me build confidence, and it changed my mindset.
I don’t know if this is exactly what Kevin Hart meant when he referred to not celebrating because he seems to celebrate each moment. Who knows? Maybe he was trying to sound humble. He seems to have mastered one crucial skill that may indeed be a celebration in itself– he has a winning attitude. His dad was not the best role model as he was growing up, and he did some awful stuff. Despite any of that, he has no ill will towards his father. He doesn’t judge him or hold a grudge or use his father’s parenting as an excuse. He loves his father, and he accepts him for who he was then and for who he is today. He simply lets it go, allowing himself the freedom to be happy. While some might say, “of course he is happy, he’s hugely successful,” I say, “of course he’s hugely successful, he is happy.”
How can you celebrate something new each day? What’s the silliest thing you did today that is worth celebrating?