It was my birthday last week. I love birthdays, because at some point a few years back I decided that all birthdays need to be properly celebrated. This is partly a reflection of my desire to feel special, but most importantly, I love to have an excuse to do something different, have some fun, and get together with a few people.
It’s pretty hard these days to keep your birthday a secret – social media has changed things in a way which encourages celebration. These days I get bombarded with fantastic facebook messages, texts, tweets and emails – all because these systems have built in reminders and flags for people so very little effort is required to pass on the joy. People have a cast iron reason just to say hi and connect – and I think it feels fabulous to receive these greetings. Even a simple “happy birthday” from someone on the other side of the world you haven’t seen for years has that feel good factor which makes me smile.
We should all spread the joy of celebration more often than just birthdays. It’s always more powerful in our day to day relationships to have a positive reason to connect and share – it helps us remember how many good things there are in our lives. In my family we are in the habit of going out for BBQ ribs at the start and end of school terms, or eating special ice cream when someone gets recognised via a merit certificate in school assembly. Most families have these types of rituals in place for major events and milestones, but what if we take the concept further, and make it a habit to find something to celebrate once a week.
It doesn’t have to be anything big, and you don’t need to justify your actions or set a benchmark on what is worth celebrating. Celebrate getting a report finished at work, someone going on holidays or returning, your dog’s birthday, a new coffee shop or wine bar opening up. Jump for joy when your son scores a try at rugby or just because he tries out a new position on the field. Create anniversary excuses to meet friends and colleagues you haven’t sat down with for a while – “it’s 5 months since you introduced me to ginger tea – let’s celebrate!”.
The lives we lead these days, particularly as busy working parents with hectic schedules, restrict our ability to connect and share informally. Our time is carefully controlled, and it’s easy to sink into a routine where everything is focussed on things that went wrong or disrupt our carefully planned lives. We always have too much to do and our tendency is to get grumpy, snappy and feel that the glass is half empty. Find a positive reason to connect with someone else once a week, get that glass half full with some metaphorical (or real!)champagne, and practise celebrating the small things so the big things don’t pass you by.