As Rio celebrates the closing of its Olympic Games, we reflect and celebrate the athletic accomplishments of the last two weeks. The athletes parade into the stadium wearing their medals, dancing and smiling, and we watch from home, proud of their endeavors and the way they represented their countries.
But—when is the last time we’ve celebrated ourselves similarly? We celebrate the accomplishments of Olympians, people we will never know personally, yet go about our individual lives not truly celebrating or recognizing the amazing things we’re doing—or that those close to us—on a regular basis.
While on my run this morning, I had an epiphany that four years ago—the last time I watched a Summer Games Closing Ceremony—I was unemployed, new to California, and had never run longer than three miles. Since then, I’ve started and completed a Master’s program, run 15 half marathons, toed the line of a marathon, and have a job that I love 90% of the time.
While these things may not be as amazing as becoming an Olympic champion over the course of four years, for me those things are as valuable as a gold medal. I know that I have friends who have defeated cancer, found their life partner, had a child, graduated with their PhD, ran a marathon, written a book, lost huge amounts of weight, or landed their dream job, all since London closed its games in 2012.
I guess this all boils down to the question: when was the last time you celebrated yourself? If it hasn’t been recently, take a moment from your day and recognize the amazing things you’re doing, no matter how small they seem to you in comparison. It can be as simple as knocking out an extra workout during the week, making a dish you’ve never cooked before, finishing the book that’s been on your to-read list for months or even taking the leap to ask a question you’ve been afraid to ask.
To put it into Olympic terms, we’re all competing in its marquee event: living a happy, passionate life and the only way we’re going to stand on top of the podium at the end of it is to celebrate the little things.
So ask yourself—how can you celebrate yourself today?