Celebrating Every Good Thing—Big and Small—Will Help You Live Longer, New Study Says

Recognizing every positive life event can increase your perceived social support, which may contribute to your overall health and well-being, research shows.

Do you ever feel happier after celebrating a personal achievement with your friends? According to a new study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, you're not alone. Researchers from Indiana University found that recognizing positive life events with loved ones will leave you feeling more supported socially, which may contribute to your overall health and well-being.

To obtain their findings, the researchers used behavioral experiments to survey thousands of participants over several years; they examined how gatherings increased perceived social support. They found that celebrations needed three specific conditions in order to make participants feel socially supported. The event must mark someone's personal achievement, involve food and drink, and other people must be in attendance.

"Many celebrations include two of the three conditions: eating and drinking while gathering together," study co-author Kelley Gullo Wight, assistant professor in the IU Kelley School of Business said in a press release. "Adding the third condition, making an intentional effort to recognize others' positive achievements, is key."

Two Friends Hugging During A Dinner Celebration
miniseries / GETTY IMAGES

Recognizing positive life events can range from congratulating someone for getting into college to accepting a new job offer. Even if these achievements are celebrated virtually, the researchers found the event will still increase a person's perceived social support so long as those three factors are included.

According to prior research, perceived social support is the belief that you have a group of people that will be there for you in a time of hardship. This feeling has been associated with positive health and well-being outcomes, including increased lifespan and decreased anxiety and depression.

The researchers note that celebrations where perceived social support is increased can be especially helpful in places where communities are more at risk of loneliness and isolation, like nursing homes or community centers. This sense of support can also lead to more positive interactions down the road: "We found that when people feel supported socially after a celebration, they're more 'pro-social,' and more willing to volunteer their time or donate to a cause," said study co-author Danielle Brick, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Connecticut.

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