3/100 Things – Remember to bring joy and celebration into your work

Back to my list of 100 Things I’ve Learned About Nonprofits. I’ve moved this point up to #3 as it’s come up twice in the last few days. (Maybe joy and celebration are really two different points, but they just felt so connected to me that I linked them together).

Saturday, Jon and I attended a dinner hosted by the American Friends Service Committee of Southeastern New England. The guest speaker was Anna Galland, national field director for MoveOn.org and a former program director of AFSC. Anna shared her list of organizing tips with a fairly packed room. Among many astute observations was Anna’s admonition that organizers needed to create joy and not just doom and gloom. Today in a conversation with new client Rhode Island Kids Count, Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant mentioned how important it is to celebrate even incremental progress along the way to a bigger goal.

So, with two mentions in four days, Joy and Celebration were destined to leap to the beginning of my list.

Medical studies are beginning to reveal the power of joy, humor and laughter in boosting our immune system and relieving stress.  In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink devotes a chapter to play and a section to Joyfulness where he describes Dr. Madan Kataria’s Laughter Yoga which reports 6,000 laughter social clubs in 60 countries.

If, like me, you are not a naturally whimsical person, you’ll need to work hard to incorporate celebration and opportunities for expressing joy into your work. But when you do, it will be worth it. Once I had a board of directors dancing to Barry White’s Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby at the end of a board meeting as a send off to departing board members. Another time we started a planning retreat with senior activists by loudly blowing party noisemakers to celebrate each accomplishment from the last year. Even the skeptics got into the fray.

With the tough times so many people and organizations are experiencing, we’ll need to push ourselves harder to keep joy and celebration alive.

2 responses to 3/100 Things – Remember to bring joy and celebration into your work

  1. Marianna

    Joy & celebration are often the first casualties of stress. Over time our ability to enjoy life diminishes and instead of something worth celebrating, it becomes a chore.

    Joy begins to bubble up when we increase our resilience. We increase our resilience by using heart-driven intelligence. Suddenly, the sound of your spontaneous laughter not only oxygenates you, but also creates a smooth heart rhythm because you are enjoying positive emotions.

  2. GayleGifford

    I agree completely.
    And, I believe that resilience is incredibly important, not just for people, but for our nonprofit organizations as well.

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