Last June 26, 2022, from a now deactivated Facebook page, Cebu-based pastor Mon Acuña posted a rather controversial take on people’s take celebrating “small victories.”
If your kid receives a school honor, celebrate.
If you’re the employee of the month, celebrate.
If you make it to the top, celebrate.
If you had a successful operation, celebrate.
If you beat cancer, celebrate.
If you win Miss Bohol like Pauline, Celebrate.
The problem with our society today is we celebrate people for simply doing the required minimum.
What’s the required minimum?
1. If you are a student, the required minimum is to pass.
2. If you’re a mother, the required minimum is to take care of your kids.
3. If you’re a romantic partner, the required minimum is to be faithful in your relationship.
4. If you’re an employee, the required minimum is to do your job.
But because our society is so messed up, we want to celebrate what others call “small victories” even though they’re not REAL victories. As a result, we are raising a new generation of self-entitled brats, soft and easily depressed individuals, and we are LOWERING THE BAR for success. Maybe the time will come when even drinking of water is something we should celebrate because some people can’t.
The post was met with a wave of several negative reactions from netizens, while some of his fellow churchgoers expressed their agreement with this take. The backlash caused Acuña to deactivate his Facebook page after briefly commenting on how netizens misunderstood his post and hinted that many had bad reading comprehension. The said post was also met with mixed responses, most of which were challenging him to further explain his point.
But are we really lowering the bar too low for success when we celebrate small victories?
What are small victories and why should they be celebrated?
Small victories are anything you accomplish that aligns with your intentions. They can be related to work, personal or professional relationships, habit changes, finances, and many other aspects of your life. Every individual has their own standards and criteria of what small wins are for them. For example, someone who has been busy with work finished reading a book they’ve been wanting to finish counts as a small win and calls for a celebration, a mother of two finally gets their me-time and rest after putting the kids to sleep calls for a celebration, a student passing their exam that they studied for for weeks calls for a celebration. These are all simple things, mundane even to some, but others see them as victories. So why celebrate them?
- It keeps you focused and motivated. Rewarding yourself whenever you accomplish a short-term goal keeps you reminded of your long-term goal and helps you keep yourself on track toward that goal. The same is true when you reward someone for simple accomplishments (e.g., kids getting good grades, employees doing their job well, siblings for helping you out with chores).
- It reminds you of your passion. We oftentimes forget why we chose certain long-term goals we have set. Celebrating small wins aligned with those goals helps us remember our purpose for choosing those long-term goals (e.g., celebrating being employee of the month is a step closer to the promotion we are eyeing for, celebrating passing a midterm exam helps us remember we want to graduate top of the class, etc.).
- It helps you gain clarity and confidence. Rewarding yourself for every accomplishment you make gives you clarity of what you can do, thus, making you more confident to accomplish your other goals, be it short-term or long-term.
Of Self-Entitlement and Depression
Acuña claimed that celebrating small victories breeds a generation of self-entitled and easily depressed individuals. At the same time, self-entitlement means believing that “life owes them something; a reward, a measure of success, a particular standard of living.” Being self-entitled, for example, means you demand privileges you think you have but do not (e.g., to be accommodated first in an event because of your social status or family name; to have access to certain things because of your race, age, and profession; to expect better treatment because of your achievements in life). Celebrating small wins is nothing, in any way or form, close to any of those. To a lot of people, celebrating small wins come in the form of rewarding themselves with a snack, a new book, a new shirt, or sometimes, just even a nap.
Additionally, for people who have been diagnosed with depression, celebrating small wins is something that’s even difficult to do as acknowledging one’s accomplishment becomes a challenge when you are depressed (I am speaking from experience here). On the contrary, when one celebrates their small victories, it helps them see their worth, their capacity, their goals, and their motivation, which helps them refocus and redirect themselves toward getting better from depression.
Are We Setting the Bar for Success Too Low?
Success is not absolute; it is relative. It is based on the goals you set and how much of that you have accomplished. So is celebrating small wins setting the bar for success too low? No. Rather it helps you see how many smaller goals you have accomplished, and it helps you reach those bigger goals. Instead of it setting the bar too low, it provides us with stepping stones, things we can use to lift ourselves up toward that bigger goal.
Who decides what victories need to be celerated?
With so many points of view, varying standards, and differences in opinions, who then gets to decide what should be celebrated? As mentioned earlier, these small victories are any accomplishments that are aligned with your goals. Safe to say, no one else gets to decide nor invalidate what victories you celebrate, be it big or small. Everyone has different sets of goals and sets problems. We could have the same goal and be faced with different problems hindering us to achieve that goal, so what could be a minimum requirement to some is a huge leap for others.
Celebrate your wins, be it small or big, and do not let anyone stop you nor invalidate your celebration, regardless of who or what they are to you.