112: A party

A Thousand Things to Talk About
A Thousand Things to Talk About
112: A party


How do you celebrate?

Show notes and links:
The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure (TED)
Etymology Online – Celebrate
The Role of Celebration in Building Classroom-Learning Communities (East Tennessee State University)

Full episode text

As with many parts of our language, the idea of “celebrate” began as a religious concept. As in to “celebrate” the Catholic mass. And much like the Mass, the word holds two seemingly contradictory meanings – “much frequented” and “assembled to honor.” Yet, probably partially because I’m a recovering Catholic, there’s something to the idea of frequently taking a chance to celebrate.

In a TED talk from 2016, Astro Teller from X, formerly Google X, talks about the importance of not just celebrating successes, but also the failures. In fact, they make it a point to make wild, fast failures one of the things they strive for at X – by making it the path of least resistance. They make it a point to encourage failures by making it safe to fail. When a project fails, there are hugs and high fives. There are promotions. There’s a lot of celebration, because the goal of X is to find big answers to big problems, and mostly figure out why their ideas won’t work.

For many of us, the idea of celebrating every one of our failures can be a very scary place to start when it comes to celebration. After all, if celebration is a chance to recognize, promote, and demonstrate a particular set of values, then it can be tough – really tough – to celebrate what we feel uneasy about.

Yet facing our fears, and celebrating when we do face them – is part of what creates a positive feedback loop of a good habit – even when (and perhaps especially) when what we’re trying to do is scary. In one dissertation study, research by Virginia Farr found that celebrating helped enhance group solidarity and sense of belonging in classrooms, and even helped teachers find meaning in their work. In other words, finding things worth approaching with happiness and solemnity actually helped create – and not just recognize – community.