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Sep 14, 2022

Why It Is Important to Celebrate the Thrill of Victory

Many of us experience exciting moments and success in many areas of our lives.  Whether it’s your career, successes of your family, personal gains in areas you’ve set goals for yourself, or your health journey, success has come and a victory has been won at some point or another.

Do you take time out to celebrate that victory?

It is important and vital to celebrate victories and we will explore why.

Research demonstrates why the brain likes a winner.

ABC’s Wide World of Sports made the following line famous:

“The thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat.”  This line brings no surprise that we prefer winning to losing.  Winning feels good.  Why does victory feel better than defeat?

Part of the answer is because in our bloodstreams, there is testosterone, which is a hormone.  This hormone is associated with dominance and aggression in women and men.  Testosterone makes you feel powerful and potent.  And, as we all know, testosterone must be released at some point.  The releasing helps maintain a healthy balance in our bodies.

Photos of athletes in their moment of victory or defeat usually show faces contorted with intense emotion.  People don’t always show extreme facial expressions, so sometimes it’s hard to gauge how they are feeling.  This may be surprising to some, but people show their emotion of victory in their body cues.

Is this you?  Do you have a tendency to not show emotion in your face?  Do you not smile or laugh a lot?  Especially when engaging in a running, walking, or workout activity?  If you are one to not really show emotion through your facial gestures, it is suggested that you express some type of victory through body celebration.

Research shows that expressing some type of celebration after your workout, helps the body to calm the nerves, to calm the senses from the strain of the activity, and sends a message to the brain of victory.  This message helps your cells, your muscles to relax.   Isn’t that a good and interesting fact?  Of course stretching and a cool down helps as well and is recommended, but what an added fun way to not only celebrate yourself, but to wind and cool down too by sending celebratory messages to your brain?

Celebrating victories is linked to pleasure.  When your body is full of pleasurable feelings, it is easier for it to relax.  Celebrate small wins.  Celebrate big wins.  Celebrate when you run into the Finish line.  Celebrate when you return to the pavement after time away because of other duties.  Celebrate when you come into the Finish line long after everyone else in the race.  Celebrating all types of wins stimulates dopamine release in the brain, a feel-good chemical that reinforces the learning experience and strengthens our sense of connection to those we are in community with.   Our community may be our jobs, our friend groups, our social groups, and our families.

When I joined Black Girls RUN! back in 2016, many of the run groups created a Finish Line Tunnel.  This tunnel was formed by those in the group that finished the group run before others.  By holding hands up and forming a “covering”, each runner that came in after this tunnel was formed, ran under the tunnel as a way of celebrating their finish.  Does the group you belong to still do this?  Will you be the one to incorporate it if your group does not?  Will you be the catalyst to start everyone in your group to see and experience the thrill of celebrating our victories?

You don’t have to participate in an official 5K race to celebrate a victory.  You don’t have to run at a certain pace to celebrate a victory.  You don’t have to place in a race to celebrate a victory.

Celebrate the thrill of victory and help your brain to help your body!

By: Eden Barbee-Mabry / (@gardenonthegram – IG/ @EdenJBe – Twitter)
Eden Barbee-Mabry is an Education Support Analyst with the State of Georgia. Eden is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was led to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1988. Eden joined Black Girls Run! in the Spring of 2016 and graduated from the Walk B4 You Run program in June of 2016 and is currently Run Lead for the Fairburn, Georgia group. Eden is a purse lover and strives to inspire every woman because her belief is that although the circumstances may be different, every woman can extract strength from another woman’s story.