As spring approaches we find ourselves engaging in some annual activities.  Some of you are making your Easter Brunch reservations, while others are participating in their annual March Madness bracket. Maybe there is a music festival or annual fishing trip that you are anxiously awaiting.  No matter what the activity, one thing is clear, tradition gives us a warm feeling inside.  Tradition is good … I think.

It took me a long time to understand the value of tradition, mostly because I never had any.  It seemed I was doing something different every year, including new jobs, living in new cities with new friends. Furthermore I tended to avoid tradition as I felt like the calendar was telling me what to do, like on Valentines Day.  But then one year I played in a golf tournament sponsored by a bar in San Francisco, (mind you, I am far from being called a “golfer”).  When the tournament rolled around the following year, I addressed it with my usual fickle approach, trying to wriggle out of it.  It was on a Sunday morning, I knew I would be hung over, they wanted you to ride on a bus full of yahoos instead of driving your own car (which I did every year), so I was never excited about it.  Nonetheless, each year I would drag my sorry ass out of bed, hose myself off, put on my flip flops, grab my prehistoric clubs, pick up my partner, this bizarre Gaelic shaman, grab a pack of smokes and drive to the course where it was typically 95 degrees … every year.

After the 2nd or 3rd year I stopped putting up a fight as I had assembled some good memories and it seemed I was available at that time every year. I didn’t have ANY tradition in my life, so I started looking forward to the tournament and even started practicing beforehand. It became the sole tradition in my life for the better part of ten years, and I miss it.

What is it about tradition that makes us feel good?  I unsuccessfully researched about how tradition impacts sociology or the male (or female) psyche and our esteem.  I quickly got bored looking at articles about traditionalism as it pertains to history, science and politics – yes politics.  You start lumping in politics with the tradition I’m referring to and I’m throwing out my golf flip flops!

That leaves us to take a shot at defining it … here we go !

  • Time – Traditional events give us a sense that time is passing.  Another year has passed, someone lost their hair, another person had a baby, “Jimmy quit and Jodi got married “– that type of stuff.  We like to see this.  It’s like watching children grow up.  People getting older fascinates us.  We often use it a as a barometer of how we are doing and what we should be doing as we see how others do… monkey see, monkey do.
  • Belonging – Traditional events give us a sense of belonging.  We are part of a team. This feeds our basic esteem needs.  We have value.  People like us.  “You need me on that wall!”  I mean how could that golf team lose every year if we weren’t there to shank balls into the woods?  What would our friends do if we weren’t harassing them each year to pledge money for our 5k walk to Save The Tibetan Whales For Jesus?  Belonging to a group is good, it builds confidence.
  • Connections – People often engage in annual events because they place a value on being associated with that event. What can you do for me?  The mind certainly goes through this analysis when you are considering skipping out on that annual fishing trip or road race or one of those enlightening mentoring or life-coach retreats – Hoo Hah!  This is not bad practice, and you don’t have to feel opportunistic.  Surrounding yourself with good people as you go through life is what we should have all been taught in college, as required coursework.  Its critical to success.
  • Its Special – As we all get older and busy with work, family and basically life, we become more isolated from friends, places we like to visit and activities we used to enjoy.  Traditional events are a great way to keep a hand in your past and slow down father time.

So fill out that March Madness bracket, go on that hunting trip and sign up for that annual 10k. Retain those memories and relationships or build new ones.  Engaging in traditional events makes us feel good.  There doesn’t need to be any other reason.

Thanks For Reading !

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