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Happy BirthdayWhen it comes to birthdays, people seem to have mixed emotions.  Kids look forward to turning a year older, counting down the days until their next birthday and often saying their age with the “and a half” added to it.  Children also look forward to their milestones – becoming a teenager, turning 16, then 18, then 21 – for various reasons.  Eventually, though, the years begin to pass more quickly and the birthdays seem to just keep coming.  As adults, some of us are happy to have our birthday come around again while many would prefer not to think about it.

When a birthday arrives, it may seem like any other day; you have to keep stopping to remember that the day is extra special.  Sometimes you might forget, remembering only when someone walks by you and says “Happy Birthday!”  Because I personally am prone to this tendency, years ago I started observing the week of my birthday and celebrating all week long.  By doing so, I am not forcing myself to cram all my excitement, thoughts, and feelings into a 24-hour period in which eight hours are spent sleeping.

I like my birthday and look forward to it every year. I always have!  How about you? How do you feel about your birthday?  If you’re in the camp that doesn’t like having a birthday and turning a year older, it may be helpful to focus on your birthday as a celebration of another year of life.  The American Cancer Society once had a campaign called “More Birthdays” in which they observed and celebrated years lived well to see a world with more birthdays.

youth-570881_640Taking a positive approach to birthdays in which you express gratitude for your health and life may actually improve your overall attitude and outlook in the days to come!  My close and oldest friend (not oldest in age, but the one I have known since first grade!) and I celebrated our 40th birthdays at a “getaway spa” in another state.  Since the “big ones” get fewer as we get older, we decided to celebrate the decade ones in style, or at least in our own style.  This year my friend and I have planned another “birthday trip” to celebrate turning “50”.

A study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states highlighting time-based landmarks – such as birthdays – may help to motivate positive behavior change and promote success in future-oriented goals.  I started planning my “turning 50 years old” celebration when I was 47 “and a half”.  My plan was to be physically the strongest I have ever been come age 50, even stronger than when I played sports in high school.  I got myself a personal Pilate’s instructor who provided me with a mix of cardio and strength training, and thus I began my journey toward my 50th birthday.  When the day arrived, I had met my goal and made turning 50 years “old” feel like 50 years “young”.

Isn’t that the take away from birthdays – giving thanks and looking forward to celebrating our birth no matter how old we are or where we are in our life journey? Be grateful today for the chance to think about or plan another year. When your next birthday comes around, take advantage of the opportunity to hit the reset button and/or celebrate another year well lived.

Sources:

American Cancer Society (2008). Official Sponsor of Birthdays. http://relay.acsevents.org/site/PageServer?pagename=RFL_CA_Home_Birthdays

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

Peetz, J. & Wilson, A. E. (2013). The post-birthday world: Consequences of temporal landmarks for temporal self-appraisal and motivation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 249-266. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2012-27895-001

Written by: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, heer.7@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu.

 

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