Twelve Benefits of a Christmas Birthday

My birth date competes with the birth of a holy savior and the largest commercial holiday of the year. Many people hear that and cringe. Almost everyone asks about combined gifts, getting swept under the rug, or relocating the celebration to the summer solstice. While I wouldn’t mind being able to see friends on my birthday every once in a while, I absolutely love my birthday. My parents always worked hard to make sure I got my fair share of gifts and attention. I am lucky and blessed. Some of the other notable benefits:

1. I get to pick the menu.
2. Almost everyone has the day off.
3. I only need to write thank you notes once a year.
4. You get to spend the day with family, even members who live far away.
5. Old friends are in town, making it easier to connect and party around the date.
6. You’re not the only one opening gifts (it’s awkward otherwise).
7. Presents can be bigger and more expensive.
8. It’s better than being overshadowed by Christmas with a birthday just before or after.
9. Everyone is usually in good spirits.
10. The world decorates, plays music, and anticipates my birthday.
11. It’s impossible for me and close friends to forget.
12. It feels like a special date (rather than just another work day)

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Appreciate

Give thanks by living out your gifts. If you feel blessed with a great life, the greatest way to show appreciation is to pay it forward. Give back to those who gave to you by fulfilling your talents, maximizing the value of gifts, embracing relationships, and making a difference in the world. Make your life and all that you have been given count. The worst way to say thanks is to say “thanks” and do nothing. Enjoy your food coma today; earn it tomorrow. Go be the best that you can be.

Happy thanks and giving!

Buying Happiness (versus Giving Happiness)

When we were young, people rewarded us for accomplishments. Candy for chores, toys for good grades, etc. As we got older, we came to understand rewards as a part of transactions. I do for you, you do for me. Even on birthdays, gifts have lost much of their appeal because we essentially expect them (or, at least, we’re not at all surprised). And as we start earning and spending our own money, the things we “reward” ourselves with do not satisfy the same level of appeal as, say, winning the lottery by accident.

It is extremely difficult to find joy in something you expect. If you think you deserve it, there is little room for appreciation. And if you know it should be coming, there is little room for surprise. Pure joy lies in the moments in life where fortune smiles down on us and we have no idea why. Therefore, happiness comes from giving and receiving gifts. Receive something unexpectedly or surprise another with a moment of joy, and you will feel great. Spontaneity is key. Transactions are not gifts, so taking a paycheck for work and buying a fancy new toy for yourself is not happiness. You cannot buy your own happiness in this way.

Give a gift today for no reason. Watch what happens.