Today I turn 21 for the 14th time. Someone once (somberly) told me that birthdays past the age of 21 just don’t really matter. How sad is that?! I do feel like though, for many people more often than not the bitter-sweetness of our birthday is that of New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day — a reminder of where we’re at in life, our health, relationships, and potentially all that is lacking in each of those areas. Why is it that for many people the negative takes over and they’re left with hardly anything to be grateful for?
I say, screw. that. I’m here to be your brutal, honest friend and remind you that your life is primarily what you make of it and a result of your actions and mindset. Sure you can throw a million, “Yeah, Bec but…” at me, and yes absolutely there are incredibly unfortunate events that happen. But despite that, all of those previous statements I made still stand firm. Interestingly enough, some of the happiest people with the most genuine positive outlook on life that I’ve met have been those who have endured the most hardships in life.
Re-frame Your Thinking
So what gives? How do some people, maybe the type that drive you a little bonkers at times, consistently have an upbeat attitude in life and seem to thrive? While I’m not quite to that level, I like to consider myself someone who works real dang hard to be mindful of my thoughts and press myself to counter my negative thoughts and emotions and to see the other side of things. The answer to how, is work. Hardwork. Your outlook on life is a practice, not a trait that you may or may not have. It’s not like your eye color or height that is something you’re predisposed to have. It’s something you learn, practice, and evolve.
With all that said, having a happy birthday (or any day for that matter) should start with focusing on the positives. Start your day and literally list them out. Force yourself to put pen to paper for 10-minutes and really assess even the smallest of things in your life that you are thankful for. For me, sometimes that looks like “I’m grateful for the phone call I had with my bff on the way to work,” or “I’m really glad I went for a 15-minute walk and took a mental break.”
Move or Meditate
Commit to some sort of activity this day. Whether it is going for a walk, doing a structured workout, or a fun activity like skiing or biking– delegate time to move your body. If physical activity is not a feasible option for you, another option could be meditation. Either one of these is a great way to clear your mind, relieve mental and physical stress, and connect with your soul on a level you wouldn’t otherwise throughout the day.
This is a special day, whether you announce it to the world or don’t tell anyone, you know it’s your birthday and it deserves self-recognition. Typically this is best done with the gift of time. What I mean by that is allocate time to yourself on your birthday.
Think of something you wouldn’t normally do for yourself — could be something small like stopping at Starbucks or Caribou and reading for 30-minutes, or maybe it’s a bit more time to yourself for a pedicure, massage, or long walk outside. It is far too prevalent in today’s society to not take time to ourselves, and this is the one day out of the year that you certainly shouldn’t feel guilty to do so.
Share Part of the Day with Someone
While alone-time I feel is pertinent on your birthday, so is setting aside sometime to be with someone close to you as well. It could be parent(s), sibling, spouse, child, friend, co-worker, someone you feel connected to and they would positively impact your day.
Ideally this would be an in-person activity like lunch or dinner out, grabbing a quick coffee together, going shopping, doing physical activity, but if it honestly is NOT possible (rare, but I’ll give you an out) it could even be something like a FaceTime phone call. At times, those closest to us are not physically close to us so a phone call goes a long way.
Buy Something for Yourself — Guilt Free
I’m giving you permission and actually suggesting that you go shopping for yourself. For some of you this might be a weekly occurrence already (then we have other things we need to talk about), but for many of you I know you’re often like me in that you have your eyes on a certain shirt or product for weeks, sometimes months, and the act of actually buying it usually never happens because other expenses take priority.
Having smart spending habits is definitely critical, don’t get me wrong. But on your birthday give yourself permission to get the shirt or buy the shoes. Everyone’s budget is obviously different and spending habits vary, but I wouldn’t necessarily splurge on this purchase. You want to still wake up tomorrow to your bank account and not have big buyers remorse. Buy an item and probably not an entire outfit.
At some point during the day, maybe before bed as the day is near done, take a few minutes and reflect back on your year — what were the fun things you did? What people positively impacted your life? What were daily habits that helped you manage stress? Maybe even write these things out and make a list. What you’re doing is making note of all the things that benefitted you this past year and you would want to be sure to include them into your upcoming year.
As we know, birthdays come at a faster and faster pace every year. I can’t speak for you, but I know I’m not alone in that there have been years that I’ve looked back and while I had a good year, there wasn’t anything that really stood out…it was as if I had coasted through another year. It was almost as if my goal was just to survive, to get by. Our time is more valuable than that though that’s for sure, and our live’s deserve better.
Today (my bday) I worked and was surrounded by awesome co-workers, had dinner with my family (parents and brother also included), treated myself to a coffee, and then had a surprise night out with the hubby a few days later (sans kids!). A big chunk of it was spent thinking about past birthdays, this past year, and the big plans I have for this next year.
Alright — so start planning your big day! Be sure to include each of the areas above throughout your day. What’s your day going to include?