5 Ways to Think Differently about Birthdays

5 Ways to Think Differently about Birthdays

Bring the excitement back to birthdays with these different ways of thinking.


Up until the past few years, every one of my birthdays was an elaborate production. Since I was small, I planned my own birthday parties in big, big ways.

At 8, I remember cutting out pineapple-shaped invitations for my Hawaii-themed party. When I turned 31, I threw a huge bocce game birthday party complete with a bocce-themed cake. In those days, it seemed that birthdays were a time to look forward to the years ahead.

But over the past few years my excitement has waned. Throwing a birthday party became a hassle, one more thing to add to the to-do list. Birthdays became extra work to celebrate something I really don’t want to admit is happening — I’m getting older.

I soon avoided celebrating my birthday altogether.

But last year, after my husband and a dear friend threw me a tasteful, tiny celebration, I realized I needed to reevaluate my sentiments about birthdays. I don’t need to throw an elaborate shindig to celebrate, and birthdays can actually be a great excuse to connect with close friends and reflect on what we’ve accomplished in the past year. I had a realization: Life gets richer as I get older. This small party was a great reminder that life is a journey, and birthdays are about celebrating our time together instead of tagging oneself with a number.

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Gaining this perspective made me realize that I wouldn’t have it any other way: I no longer wish to be younger. I’ve come so far both personally and professionally and have so much for which to be grateful.

Here are five ways to think differently about your birthday. I hope they bring a new kind of excitement and anticipation for the years to come.

1. Reflection
Thinking of each birthday as a successful trip around the sun is my favorite way to rally enthusiasm. Whether or not I was aware of it, being on earth for another year means I went on a journey of 583 million miles around the sun this year. I could have stayed home that whole time, and yet I still completed this miraculous trip. Thinking about my birthday as another cosmic journey helps spark wonder and gratitude, and widens my perspective — two things that really enrich life.

2. A Fresh Start
On my birthday, I feel empowered to make changes in my life over the next year. I take time to reflect on what worked (and what didn’t) in the previous year, and then I make some birthday resolutions. No one else has to know and I love the feeling of starting anew.

3. Gifts
Friends and family surprise me with their ingenuity and generosity. It’s fun to see my kids put their heads together to think of what they think I would like, and it’s even more touching when their gifts are homemade. A birthday is a great time for welcoming some thoughtful tokens of love into your home.

4. Guilt-free Indulgence
Although I’m not really a fan of cake, I do love a fancy dessert. And as I age, I don’t allow myself to indulge often. That fancy dessert — whether it’s mixed up in my kitchen or ordered at a restaurant — is often the most elaborate end-of-meal treat I get all year.

5. Reconnecting
Although your relationship with social networks might be complicated, there’s no better way to see all the birthday love in one place. It’s a thrill to see friends from every time in my life come out of the woodwork to send birthday greetings. Social networks take the hassle out of birthday celebrations, with friends checking in briefly to send you their best. Every year.

So bring the excitement back to birthdays! I don’t need a huge party to celebrate another year alive — I just need some gratitude and excitement. I make myself happier and I better appreciate this journey for the miracle it is.

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