Celebrate This First

Celebration brings joy

“Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of GOD is your strength!”
Nehemiah 8:10 (The Message)

Is this an American thing or just a human thing?

  • A high school senior is about to graduate. The main question everyone asks her is, “So what are you going to do next?
  • A young man and woman have been dating a year. Their friends want to know, “When are you going to get married?
  • They get married. “When are you going to have a baby?
  • They have a baby. “When are you going to have another baby?

On and on.

When Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, debuted at #2 on the best-seller’s list, the first reaction to her from a close friend was, “I bet next week you’ll be #1!

But instead of being encouraged by that, Gretchen was deflated.


Because we want to celebrate our wins before we move on the next competition.

It’s discouraging to finally reach a goal, only to learn that the bar is still higher. That what you were reaching for is no longer enough. That there’s more to do.

And, yes, there is always more to do.

But we don’t have to do it right away.

Let’s celebrate this victory first. Linger here for a moment. Hit pause before you “encourage” someone to move on to the next goal, even if you intend it as motivation.

Practice contentment by enjoying today’s grace.

The fruit of victory is celebration and contentment. Take a break before you push forward again. Stop raising the bar prematurely.

Gretchen’s book did reach #1 the next week. But what if it hadn’t? Wasn’t it enough to be any number on the best seller’s list?

If the high school graduate doesn’t choose college, or the young couple breaks up, or the married couple delays babyhood, can’t we still celebrate with them their graduation, their courtship, their wedding—when each happens naturally?

Yes, keep standards high. Keep goals in sight.

But celebrate THIS win first.

* * *

Do you “raise the bar” too quickly? How do you celebrate a win in your family? Please share in the comments.

Listen to Grethen Rubin talk about “Raising the Bar” on her podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The segment begins around 18:35 and ends around 24:55.


40 thoughts on “Celebrate This First

  1. Debby

    I really liked this Lisa. It’s so true that we too often we don’t stop to enjoy where we are. I’ve been in a hurry to know an answer for something that is still over a year in the future. Your post was another reminder to me about not forgetting where I am today.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Debby. It’s so easy to get in a hurry, yes? About anything, really. Sometimes I find myself rushing around for no reason at all, so I need these reminders myself to enjoy THIS day that I’m in. It’s where God is most with me.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Jodie. Even if today isn’t exactly as we wish it to be (and is it ever?), we can still find many reasons to be grateful for all the blessings in it.

  2. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Lisa. It reminded me of a commercial that showed a family walking through a museum, past the impressively mounted skeleton of a T.Rex, each absorbed in texting on his or her cell phone.

    The heaviest irony is that it was a commercial made by a cell-phone provider.

  3. June

    This is such an important post, Lisa! It speaks to gratitude and contentment. Two things very much lacking in our world today. Yes, and amen, let us celebrate the now! and be thankful for it! Great post!

  4. Barbara H.

    I remember encountering those questions while dating – I had been engaged before to someone who it would have been a disaster to marry, so since I was wrong once before, I had trouble trying to figure out if this was God’s will or just my feelings. Then we were married five years before our firstborn came along, so I faced all those questions about when we were going to have children, and I didn’t dare wear anything loose without encouraging speculation! I determined never to ask other couples those questions – they’re really none of our business, and when they go on to the next step, they’ll let everyone know. I never thought of it as raising the bar, but I see what you mean – it is, in a sense, “pushing” for the next phase without enjoying the current one.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You were wise to learn those lessons from your own experiences, Barbara. It’s the most lasting way to learn. The next question I get asked is when are we going to have grandbabies (as if it’s under my control! ha). Then after that it will probably be, when is Jeff going to retire? We are a curious people. 🙂

  5. TC Avey

    I used to struggle with this and it robbed me of my joy. There are times I’m still tempted to push ahead but I’m learning the value of living in the moment. Trusting God to take care of tomorrow so I don’t have too. This doesn’t mean I don’t make plans or have goals, but it does mean I focus more on today than on the future or the past.

  6. Alice Walters

    Lisa, I love how you used the word “linger” to remind us of the importance of savoring our victories. I’m one of those “what’s next?” people, thinking I’m being proactive. You remind me that I need more thanksgiving in victories, and more trust for the future. Blessings!

  7. Debbie Putman

    Yes, yes, yes. Celebrate this first. Enjoy the moments. “Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And joy too. Celebrate the joy!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That verse keeps popping in my head too (well, I should say the Spirit keeps speaking it to me!). Sufficient for the day. I sometimes have a hard time believing that, but I want to do better. Thanks, Debbie.

  8. Anita Ojeda

    I love everything about this, Lisa! As a competative second child, it’s taken me a long time to learn the lesson, but I’m so much happier when I celebratet the current win and don’t worry about tomorrow’s goals.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m the second daughter in my family, so maybe that explains it for me, too? 🙂 I think about coaches and teams who get interviewed right after a win: “What about the next game?” and often they say, “We are going to take the night to celebrate this win first, and tomorrow we’ll start over.” We need to do the same.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      When I heard Gretchen Rubin’s podcast on this, I had to sit with it for awhile too, Liz. I hadn’t consciously thought how “raising the bar” can take joy out of our victories, but I’ve definitely felt it myself.

  9. Theresa Boedeker

    Lisa, great post! The problem like you said, is that there is always something better and bigger to achieve. You never have enough money. Enough anything. Yes, so let’s celebrate the victories small and big. Even the things we get accomplished on a daily basis. Or small steps towards a new habit. If we wait to celebrate until we have life figured out and we are near perfection :), we may wait to long and never get to celebrate.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good point, Theresa…if we wait until we’re finally “done”, it may be too late to celebrate. I’m all for celebrating little victories because that’s what we have the most of. 🙂

  10. floyd

    I’m guilty of this. I put wins and getting my ways in my back pocket and keep trudging ahead for more. It is a fine line between complacency and wisdom.

    Great thoughts.

    This was a great post… I’ll bet you do even better next time…


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Maree. Sometimes I feel the urge to do this even when I finish a big book; I have this lingering feeling that I need to spend a few days just thinking about it before I move on to another book.

  11. Deb Wolf

    I so enjoyed Gretchen’s book and was blessed to write for The Woman’s Day Magazine, WD – Happiness Blog the year it released. So many great tips and ways to strive to find the blessings and joy in every day! I love this one! Celebrating little successes is a great way to make every day more fun! Loved this Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I enjoyed Gretchen’s book too (and her other books since then!). I’m looking forward to her Four Tendencies book coming out soon. She truly does try to spread happiness and I like people like that. 🙂 Thanks, Deb.

  12. Pamela Kenagy

    What a wonderful reminder to rejoice in THIS very moment! It brought to mind Psalm 118:24: “THIS is the day that the Lord has created. We will rejoice and be glad IN IT” (emphasis added in caps..) He created THIS day, and we are to rejoice IN IT… taking a moment of sabbath right here and right now… savoring it! Celebrating it! Being thankful in it! Our world pushes us and rushes us…yet His timelessness is eternal. Thank you for the reminder to push the pause button and to live IN THIS MOMENT! God Bless!

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