Monday, May 11, 2015

It's that celebration time of year again!

It’s that time of year again.  A time of saying good-bye to old experiences and saying hello to the new.  It’s the time of year that embodies all the symbols of springtime that we love - starting something new, rebirth, transformation.  It’s graduation time and will soon be the peak of wedding season.  With that in mind, it’s a good time to talk about the factors that will set us up for success. 

Weddings and graduations are both times of great optimism.  Just think about the speeches given at each event.  They’re full of hope and wishes for greatness.  So much so, that they can leave us feeling like these events are supposed to be the happiest, most important events of our lives.  So how do we make the most of them?

The first thing is to reduce the pressure on yourself.  True, these are some of the biggest milestones of a person’s life, but you are not defined by a single day.  Instead, these events symbolize the hard work you have already put in with graduation representing your scholastic achievements and a wedding symbolizing your ability to commit to a grown up relationship.  Too often, these events get reduced to the “perfect” dress or cake or venue.  Studies show that people who just roll with it and look to enjoy themselves will have more fun and a better longterm outcome.  In fact, one study by two psychologists with the National Marriage Project showed that the most successful couples focused on celebrating their nuptials with the most people, focusing on fun and joining their guests for a good time.   

Associate professor of psychology, Jaime Kurtz of James Madison University believes that focusing on activities that take you out of your own head enhances your enjoyment of these events.  For example, spending the majority of time on the dance floor with your family and friends or telling spontaneous stories about your experiences in school.  

It’s also not about the dough!  In fact, studies by economists have shown that the less a couple spends on a wedding, the higher their chances of a happy marriage.  The study report that those who spend more than $20,000 on their wedding were 32% more likely to get divorced.  

Bottom line, we remember experiences far more than pomp and circumstance.  So perhaps the best way to embody rebirth and transformation is to honor the path you took to get to this moment and share your gratitude with those who helped you get there.      

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