HUGH CULVER

Why you should practice celebrating life, today.

Updated to Habits, Life on January 23, 2023.

Do you ever wonder why it takes you 24 hours to unwind on vacation? Or why after finally lining up a babysitter for the long awaited dinner date there wasn’t much to talk about (except the kids)?

It’s no different with skiing, piano, meditation, or Pinochle, if you don’t practice, it doesn’t come easily.

The same applies to celebrating life. The time to enjoy life, and celebrate it, is now.

DON’T WAIT FOR RETIREMENT

I’m always surprised and a little depressed when people tell me they’re looking forward to retirement. “I can’t wait!”, they they tell me, “to have all that free time.” Really? Will you even know what to do with “all that free time”?

After a while, catching up on your reading, playing more golf, and Wednesday night poker might not be enough.

It’s no different then “surviving” the week so you can enjoy the weekend.

Or, obsessing about how great life will be when the kids are finally out of the home.

It’s like planning a holiday full of hiking, spa treatments, and good food, so you can “get back in shape.” The time to take care of yourself and enjoy life is (you guessed it), today.

ENJOY YOUR VICTORIES, EVERY DAY

Every morning, I look forward to my workout. It’s part exercise and part victory. I’ve just wrapped up two hours of writing, and my walk/run/paddle/weights is how I stay fit and celebrate keeping my writing commitment.

When I’m not on the road speaking, I always do the hardest work for my day in the morning [LINK], my afternoon walk around the block is like a mini celebration for sticking to my plan.

Sunday is a celebration day – I rarely check email and try to avoid anything to do with my business.

Dinner with my family is a ritual, even though my daughter’s are crazy busy with their own lives. That’s when we laugh the most.

The last thing I do before sleep is read a couple of chapters in a novel. It’s pure entertainment and totally for me.

None of these mini-victories are big – they don’t have to be. Just like training for a race, I’m in training for life. I want to keep getting better at helping people through my work, and savouring non-work time.

DO ONE THING A DAY JUST FOR YOU

Younger-Next-YearI was talking with a supplier last week about celebrating life when she chimed in with her own story. “I’ve decided that everyday” she said “I’m going to do something for myself.” 

One day she went for a longer walk than normal, on another she did yoga, and on another she browsed the book section of a second hand store. On the surface these sound pretty insignificant. But celebrating life and celebrating time freedom is never insignificant.

“…play is useful. It exercises our bodies and our minds in the most profound and useful ways. Play is virtuous now. It is its own reward.” Says Chris Crowley in Younger Next Year. ” Now is the time for boys to play golf. And poker nights. And trips to the ballpark to see the Yankees play the Red Sox. Time to go out in the yard and throw the ball, even if you stand twenty feet apart. Time to go tumbling down the bunny hill with your grandchildren. Race down the slalom hill with Cheeb, your seventy-year-old first-grade pal. Play in the surf after a storm. Throw parties for yourself, every single birthday. I had a beauty when I turned seventy. Just plain do stuff. Default to doing stuff. Learn to cook. Jump into some new sport, now that you’re fit for it. Just do it.”

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT

I first heard the expression: “garbage in, garbage out” in reference to computer programs, but it applies to life as well. 

Repeating “garbage” thoughts over and over always leads to “garbage” results in your actions and even your body. 

Here are some “garbage” thoughts to avoid:

“I can’t wait until retirement. Then I’ll really enjoy life.”

“Once I get this project finished I’ll be able to spend more time enjoying my family.”

“Money issues are putting stress on our relationship” 

“As soon as I lose some weight I’ll get out and enjoy life more.”

“When I get this book project out of the way, I can finally do what I want to do.”

“If only I had more money, I could enjoy life more”

“I can’t wait until the weekend. Then I’ll have a lot more time for me.”

I’ve got news for you.

Repeating “As soon as I…” statements is a sure-fire way to miss out on life. You might as well be saying “I am not happy, therefore I will never be happy.”I can't wait until retirement

Ridiculous.

Not only are you ripping yourself off, you are ripping off your future.

START TODAY – PRACTICE CELEBRATING

Call it celebrate, having fun, exercising your freedom, or just doing-what-the-hell-I-want. Whatever. 

The sooner you practice celebrating life, the sooner life will celebrate you.

Here’s what to do. 

Pick one thing you know you will enjoy, even if it’s as simple as sitting outside to read a book at lunch. And do it today. Tomorrow, pick something else you will enjoy and do that. Now keep going.

Pretty soon, you have a handful of “celebrations” you can pick from every day. The goal is to create a habit of celebrating life, not to wait.

What are you going to do today?

 

Photo credits:

four guys in snow: www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/6724183521

storm clouds: www.flickr.com/photos/keoni101/5369127018