It's Now or Never – Graduation, Motivation, and Celebration

This week our eldest son graduated from kindergarten. This is most certainly something that did not happen when I was his age. It reflects the increased level of respect granted to kids over the years and the pride that parents have decided to take in their childrens’ most modest accomplishments. My son was looking forward to my wife and I being there. All week long  he practiced the play his class would perform for us. All the kids seemed to enjoy the attention and celebration surrounding their last day of kindergarten, although the true meaning of the day was more evident to the parents than to the kids. As adults, we come to realize that everything we currently enjoy will one day fade away or be taken from us abruptly. While abrupt changes to the pleasures of life are more obvious (i.e., the death of a loved one, sudden illness), the pleasures that mysteriously fade with time are not predictable, are not typically anticipated, and are mostly beyond our control. When the song, food, movie, friendship, or activity that we used to love, loses its ability to intrigue and motivate us, it happens so gradually as to be imperceptable until it is over. It can sometimes surprise and sadden us at the same time. These mini-life cycles, within our lives, need to be highlighted. Celebrating kindergarten is one example of appreciating moments of pleasure that would otherwise pass and leave us surprised and saddened by the imperceptable passing of a time that will never again return. Of course, pleasant memories remain, but the experience – in real time – will have passed never to return again. Celebrating kindergarten is an example of living life in the moment and appreciating the moment before it fades into the past.

Psychologist Jaime L. Kurtz, reporting in the journal Psychological Science, has investigated the importance of appreciating the moment in motivating  college seniors prior to the graduation. Two groups of college seniors were given different sets of instructions six week prior to their graduation. Both groups were asked to keep a journal everyday for two weeks that included their activities. The first group was told to think of graduation as a far off event and the second was told to think of it as an imminent event. The results showed that the group that was told to think of their graduation as imminent participated in more college-related activities. The researchers believe that this reflected the fact that they were motivated to take advantage of the time they had left in school and participate more. Basically, they had been encouraged to see this as their last chance to engage their college experience. This encouragement motivated them to live in the moment.

You can read more about this study here.

What do you think about graduation? Did you appreciate your own? Are you appreciating your kids’ graduation? Leave us your comments.

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