By Eric Barker
May 3, 2016
IDEAS
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

You don’t celebrate enough.

I’m not talking about just having fun for the sake of having fun. Plenty of scientific research shows that celebrating is the key to a better life.

We need more high-fives, more parties, more chocolate consumption, and a lot more saying, “Wow, that’s great!”

Sound too simple and cheery? Wrong. Here’s why…

Relationships

Are you trying to fix things in your romantic relationship so it will last? Stop right now. Why? Because you have it backwards.

Studies show divorce isn’t usually caused by an increase in problems. It’s often caused by a decrease in positive feelings.

Want to predict who has a happy relationship? Don’t look at how they fight — look at how they celebrate.

Via Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being:

Want a better relationship? Spend more time celebrating the good things.

Via For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed:

And romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that need celebrating. When I spoke to Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence, she said:

(To learn an FBI behavior expert’s secrets for getting people to like you, click here.)

Okay, it’s easy to understand how celebrating more often might help relationships — but do we need more celebrating at work? Oh yeah…

Read more: How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

Work

Harvard professor Teresa Amabile found seven factors that made companies more productive and employees happier. Wanna guess what one of them was? You’re probably already ahead of me…

From The Progress Principle:

Want your team at work to be more successful? Let’s look at the research on sports teams for a sec. What predicts more wins on the field? Whether players celebrate with their teammates:

I know, doing an end zone dance is not appropriate in the conference room. But there’s no excuse for not giving more fist bumps, high fives, chest bumps, and half hugs.

And research shows those little celebratory touches make a big difference.

Via Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior:

(To learn what Harvard research says will make you more successful and happier, click here.)

Alright, celebrating helps your personal life and your professional life. What about your internal life? You know, that little thing called happiness…

Read more: How To Get People To Like You: 7 Ways From An FBI Behavior Expert

Happiness

We spend an awful lot of time running around grabbing for things to make us happy. That’s not terribly efficient. You’d be smarter to spend more time appreciating the good things you already have.

Gratitude and savoring have been extensively researched and both are powerful happiness boosters. And you don’t have to get out of bed to engage in them. It’s all about where you put your attention.

From Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth:

And when you feel gratitude or savor something wonderful in life, express it. Say something or do something to show how you feel. Quite simply, celebrate it.

The fancy term researchers use is “Behavioral Expression.” That’s PhD speak for shouting, “Hooray!” Sound corny? Perhaps… but it works.

Via Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience:

Letting those good feelings out multiplies the good feelings.

(To learn the four rituals neuroscience research says will make you happy, click here.)

Relationships, work and happiness: celebrating has some serious power. Now how are you going to get the motivation to make these changes? By more celebrating, of course…

Motivation

What’s key to creating good habits and achieving your goals?

Eating chocolate. I’m serious as a heart attack.

When I spoke to Charles Duhigg, author of the bestseller The Power of Habit, he told me that if you add a little celebratory reward after engaging in a good habit you want to build, it’s a powerful reinforcer.

Did you go running this morning and want to make sure you go again tomorrow? He suggests treating yourself to a little bit of chocolate after today’s run. Here’s Charles:

Sound too simple to be effective? Wrong. Little celebrations for small accomplishments make a huge difference in motivation for even the toughest tasks.

Read more: New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy

As bestselling author Dan Pink explains, the research on motivation is clear: “small wins” are a big deal. Taking a moment to be happy about the little good things that happen is far more motivating than thinking you need to win that Nobel Prize or Academy Award before you’re allowed to feel satisfied.

And this works with the toughest challenges. How tough?

Appreciating the small fleeting victories is what former Navy SEAL Platoon Commander James Waters says is key to getting through seemingly impossible challenges like Navy SEAL “Hell Week”:

(To learn the secrets of how to motivate yourself and others, from expert Dan Pink, click here.)

Are you doing any party planning yet? Let’s round up the info and learn how small celebrations can lead to you looking at your entire life in a more positive light…

Read More: New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

Sum Up

Here’s how celebration is the most fun way to improve every area of your life:

  • Relationships: Stop trying to fix the bad and focus on relishing the good. That’s what makes marriages last.
  • Work: Celebrating success makes companies happier and more productive. The world needs more fist bumps.
  • Happiness: Focus on the good things, savor them and then let that joy out. Happiness expressed is double happiness.
  • Motivation: Celebratory rewards build good habits. If they get Navy SEALs through “Hell Week” they’ll get you through most anything.

Want to look back on your life and feel great about it? Then end more moments with a celebration. Is this another silly trick from the internet? Nope. This tip comes from a Nobel Prize winner…

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Laureate and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, has shown that your brain consistently remembers only two things about an event: the emotional peak and the ending.

Via The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less:

Your brain is not a perfect computer. What you will remember is not the same as what happened. But you can game it so your memories are better than what happened.

What does it take to fool your brain into looking back on your life with joy and pride, my fellow tricksters? If you make sure to always end happy times or tough challenges with a little celebration, you already have half of what it takes to make great memories.

If you have a head full of happy memories, it’s hard not to feel like you have an amazing life.

And an amazing life is something worth celebrating. So go celebrate.

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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