Psychologically Speaking... VJ #300

Happy Anniversary to the VJ

Presumably celebrating anniversaries is psychologically and sociologically beneficial given it is common across many cultures, and we do so much of it. Or perhaps humans just like a good excuse for a party, a get together around the camp fire. And why not?


It could be a congratulatory event, a pat on the back for having managed to survive the vicissitudes of life.  I must admit, though, to being a bit confused about the reinforcement schedule. Some years have been much more difficult to negotiate than others, dotted as they have been with all sorts of trials and tribulations. Others have drifted by without a care in the world. But I still got presents of the same ilk. As I’ve become older and daily life has become more tricky to manage I’ve noticed that there is even less reward for effort. I have draws full of socks and undies. Where’s the expensive fishing gear? Don’t these people know anything about operant conditioning?

Anniversaries can be a time for reflection.  This can be a ‘good grief’ moment of the ‘where has life gone?’ or, ‘I’ve been married for how long?’ type. This can be a useful wake up call for a change of plan; Shock can be a great motivator.

Although any plans for change usually end up like New Year resolutions and fade away like a flower’s bloom, along with other peoples’ anniversaries. The unknown is a powerful deterrent to shift focus. Much more comfortable to keep the well worn coat even if it does smell a bit musty and have a few holes.

Having said that there are those who in a sudden moment of impetuosity buy an over sized motorbike, disappear to climb the Himalayas or run off with a later vintage neighbour. This is usually taken to be the result of a sudden surge of hormones, a new zest for life. Well, probably not. More an act of desperation, a distortion of reality.

The said person usually comes back to earth sometime later having found their chosen life changes to be too hot to handle. A bit like New Year’s resolutions really but with a more potentially disastrous outcome If they’re lucky they find their fluffy slippers still waiting for them where they should be. If not, it can be a costly mistake, as I’ve heard from a few patients in the past.

Reflection, though, can be more of the ‘wow, what a ride’ or ‘what have we learnt from all this’ type. A more contemplative, grateful kind of activity that can lead to things getting even better than they are. A time for planning for an even longer future. Perhaps an awareness to do things differently and to ensure future anniversaries are many. Not the congratulatory feel good hug that is blind to the future and mistakes. More a self or group hug with a realistic conversation.

And some people just don’t want to party. Anniversaries are allowed to go their own way, as if they never happened. Denial is an interesting phenomenon. A wasted opportunity. 


Anniversaries are as important to nations, organisations and groups as they are to individuals. An opportunity to party at a number of levels.

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