Ah, the day you were born. That special day that comes around each year. Everyone has a different relationship with their birthday. Some celebrate happily, others try to forget it. Yes, when we hit a certain age it can be a dreadful reminder of getting older, but acknowledging and celebrating our birthdays can be an amazing act of self-care, no matter our age.
If you are someone who would normally rather forget their birthday, perhaps there’s a way to look at the big day from another perspective and (hopefully) ease the tension or anxiety it causes. Rather than lamenting the concept of aging, practicing gratitude instead can be a grounding and peaceful experience. Beyond the cake and presents, it can provide a deeper opportunity for celebration—of oneself and of one’s current lot in life.
There are a few different ways to think about our relationships with our birthdays from a new perspective. Below are some ideas and insights that we can keep in mind as our big day approaches each year.
Be grateful for another trip around the sun.
One of the big lessons we’ve learned over the past year and a half is that time is very precious, and nothing is guaranteed. It can feel a bit unsettling to think about, perhaps, but also an important reason why every year that we get to spend on this earth should be celebrated.
What does gratitude for another year look like? It could be keeping a gratitude journal for making lists of all the things you’re grateful for in the year since your last birthday. A gratitude meditation is also a nice way to remind yourself of all of the things you’re grateful for. Take a couple of minutes each day leading up to your birthday to close your eyes and think of all that is good in your life. Your family and friends, the trip you’re looking forward to, that delicious burrito you had for lunch: These are all things to give thanks for. Thank the universe for the blessings in your life, regardless of whether they feel ‘big’ or ‘small.’ When it’s time to blow out the candles, you might find that your attitude has changed.
We often give a lot of thought to buying or making gifts for others, but don’t consider getting ourselves anything on our own birthdays. Sometimes we don’t receive the gift we were hoping for, which could lead to a resentful feeling. I hinted at a pair of sunglasses I wanted for years before deciding to finally buy them for myself. Why rely on anyone else to guess what you want when you already know? Gift it to yourself. You deserve it. With that said, don’t be afraid to tell someone what you want. If someone cares enough to ask, they deserve an honest answer.
Spend it how you want.
We’ve established that time is precious. How you spend it is important, too. Remember, it’s your day. If you want to spend your birthday alone in a bathtub with a pint of mint chocolate chip, go for it. Don’t commit to dinners, parties, or get-togethers that will fill you with more anxiety than joy. Most of the time we agree to these things to make others happy, not ourselves. However, if being the center of attention surrounded by friends is what makes you happy, then party on!
Celebrate your journey.
You can start at the beginning. If you’re lucky enough to have a great mom in your life, give her a call and celebrate together. This is a day that the two of you can bond over. Ask her to tell you the story about the day you were born. Even if you’ve heard it over and over, it never gets old to her.
Take in the good vibes.
You don’t need to hide the fact that it’s your birthday. Share the news with anyone who will listen. The bag boy at the grocery store sang to me this year and it made my day! Absorb all of the positive energy that comes along with receiving well-wishes. You deserve to be celebrated—or to celebrate yourself—on your special day. Birthdays are an opportunity to make it all about “me,” guilt-free!