Those who’ve read my past posts will know I’m not a fan of the self-esteem movement. Nevertheless, I do believe that, just as acknowledging our failings is important, there are times and ways in which self-appreciation is equally wise, healthy and necessary.
It’s my 40th Journalversary! Say what? I’ve just discovered that I wrote my first Journal entry 40 years ago, and have continued journaling (with a few lapses) ever since. Apart from the beard (recently re-grown and a smidge whiter), I’m a different guy from that kid rowing on the Thames River. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’re family—closer than brothers, actually. But I’ve grown in ways he didn’t. Then again, I think it’s safe to say I’ve grown because of him. I’ve read his journal entries and learned a lot from him–about what to do and, especially, what not to do. One thing we have in common: He loved God. And so do I. Only my love for God is less naïve, more mature. Thanks to him.
In the past I might have said, “Well, that’s cool” and pushed on. But not anymore. I’ve learned—and I know this sounds suspiciously narcissistic—to celebrate myself. What I mean, actually, is to celebrate significant personal milestones by entering them in my online Calendar as “Repeat every year” events, and then taking the time to celebrate them when they pop up.
And since Journaling has been a key component in my growth as a “spiritual being having a human experience” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin), I choose to celebrate it. I do the same with my Renewal, the moment 5 ½ years ago this month that I began memorizing, meditating upon and praying Scriptures, a practice that has resulted in a dramatic rejuvenation of my spiritual life.
I think of these events as private holidays, by which I mean I celebrate them only with myself (although my wife knows about them). Unlike public holidays, I don’t take the day off, or send flowers. But I do take the time to thank God and celebrate the milestone.
Personal accomplishments matter. They remind us that, while our lives are, as the idiom goes, “a work in progress,” there has been progress. Most of our days, weeks, and months are (to borrow another idiom) “three steps forward, two steps back.” Personal milestone celebrations can encourage us by reminding us that at least it’s not the reverse! Or if it is, they can remind us that it has not always been so, and encourage us to empty the trash and reboot!
So, keep it in balance, but if there’ve been personal milestones in your life—and I know there have—schedule a few annual events. Then take a moment when each comes up to…