Recognizing the Value of Celebration


By Kim Sawyer

What is a celebration really? Is it a party?  Is it the loud exclamation of “Yay!”?  These are examples of celebration but what does the concept really mean?  Most of us have only a very vague emotional idea of the real meaning yet the ritual of celebration may be one of the most important ingredients for our success as human beings in every aspect of our lives.

It’s all about value.  What are values?  Why have values?  What is their purpose?  Very basically, value is anything that each of us has decided contributes to our living a good life.  It is the fundamental motivator; it’s what drives us to move and act toward things.  A value is anything that a person acts to gain or keep.  If I’m not acting to gain or keep it, it is not really a value to me, regardless of what I may proclaim.  We have all heard the dictum, “If you want to know what someone truly values, look at their checkbook and their calendar.”

The purpose of value is to guide us toward success in life as we each define it.  It is one thing to value something; we can value a multitude of things.  But how am I to decide which are the most important?  I look at every moment of life as an investment decision.  Of all the things I can chose to do with my assets (time, money, energy, attention, love, service, principles, etc.), which one will generate the most of what I value in return?

We believe that success as a human being lies in creating the most of what we value most (wealth) during our lives.  Therefore, making that choice in the right way is the key success factor in life.  Value is the very stuff of life.

So how does value connect to celebration?

Well, let me start with the idea of ‘ritual’.  A ritual (secular or spiritual) is any activity or conversation that is primarily meant to shift the state of mind or state of relationship for those who participate in it.  Rituals can be welcomes, goodbyes, beginnings, endings, honorings, oaths, vows, and so forth.

A celebration is a ritual – a ritual about value.  A celebration is any thought process, activity, or conversation whose purpose is to acknowledge, grasp, appreciate, and experience the impact and meaning of something or someone valuable in our lives.  Think about it; every form of celebration you can remember or think of has this as its essential common characteristic.  All the other details are just different variations and applications.

So, why have a celebration?  Why have we evolved this ritual in a myriad of ways in every society and every culture?  Here’s my theory:  It’s about our basic underlying, overall mindset toward life.  I refer to it as our ‘sense of life’.  I am convinced that our ability to enjoy life and function well requires us to maintain a fundamentally benevolent sense of life.

As humans, we all have a sense of life.  We can’t help it; we are wired that way, and all of us have a primary set point somewhere on the plus/negative spectrum.  It has evolved, mostly subconsciously over the years, by our experiences, decisions, choices, and actions.  It can be changed but very slowly with a lot of hard work.  In addition, all of us can have our moment to moment experience of our sense of life sift up or down around that set point in response to our circumstances and actions.

Another important aspect of our psychology as human beings is that we also can’t help having a survival system.  Thank goodness that we have it and that it operates so well when we truly need it.  There is, however, an inherent and unavoidable side effect that can be very problematic to our sense of life.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this 3 Part Series where I explain this side effect and the nature of its negative impact on our effectiveness at living.

Based in Houston, Texas, Kim Sawyer is a highly respected executive coach, business facilitator, and engaging professional speaker.  To find out more about Kim’s firm, theWeathSource, visit his website at  You can also contact Kim by email at


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