Happy birthday tip: Plan something spectacular every month

Think about how many obligatory trinket and gadget gifts you’ve received over the years . . . the ones you forget about within a few weeks. Most are a waste of money, right?

What if there was something you could give yourself that would change the course of your life? Too good to be true? Not so. You don’t have to spend any money, but you have to do something that’s even more difficult for most. You have to invest a little time thinking about your future. One of the best gifts you can receive on your birthday is one you give to yourself.

“It’s my wife’s birthday tomorrow,” my friend told me. “So last week I asked her what she wanted as a present. ‘Oh, I don’t know ,’ she said. ‘Just give me something with diamonds.’ That’s why I’m giving her a pack of playing cards. Jokes4Us

When was the last time you got your car aligned? It was probably more recently than the last time to aligned your activities, habits and lifestyle with your passion, dreams and deepest desires. The more your daily activities align with these, the more likely you are to be happy, productive, likable, and in the long run, more successful. This can be the happiest year of your life.

Lots of people wait until New Year’s Eve to make a resolution or set new goals. But consider this: your birthday is your own personal New Year’s Day. This is an ideal time to reflect on the prior year of your life. What went well? What do you want to increase in your life? What do you want to decrease or eliminate?

How to get happy now via habits, goals and resolutions

If you create a clear vision and top it off with strong desire, you can have an amazing year. Begin with what you want your life to be this time next year. Can you really change your life in a year?

Think big. A woman (with a little help from a man) can create a new life in nine months. As an intelligent adult who knows you better than anyone else, you should certainly be able to make a few adjustments in your life’s direction in the next 9-12 months, right?

In the next nine months, you could move to a new location, get a new job, or turn your hobby into a business. You can improve a relationship or get yourself out of a bad one. You can save up to travel to that place you’ve been wanting to go. What do you want to do? It’s your life and it’s your new year. Why not make it a good one?

It’s helpful to set monthly milestones that get you closer to where you want to be. If you’re unhappy with your long work commute, for example, there are many ways to solve the issue:

  • find a new job
  • work with your employer to work from home some of the time, or all of the time
  • find a new place to live
  • turn your favorite hobby into a business with a plan to quit your jobl
  • learn a new skill so you can work toward a promotion or new occupation
  • use public transportation or a carpool to get to work so you can make better use of your commute time

Any one of these could be a monthly milestone to help you reach your goal.

This CAR game will drive you crazy

It’s easy to look at an issue, such as a long commute, and feel stuck. If you feel stuck in a job, home or relationship, think about this. Assuming you make it to your next birthday, you’re going to be busy living life each and every day. You’re going to have some happy days and some stressful days. Life is a roller coaster. So why not spend your up and down days taking action to build a happier future for you and the people around you?


The Roller Coaster by Angela L Walker

Lots of people choose to mask their dissatisfactions with nonproductive pastimes such as:

  • drinking too much
  • overeating
  • zoning out on video games, movies or TV
  • following rabbit trails on social media
  • watching spectator sports

Perhaps some of your closest friends or family members attempt to indulge and subdue you with similar junk on your birthday: pizza, cake, ice cream, sodas, alcohol, gag gifts and so on.

If you cycle deeper into these escapes year after year, it’s easy to let an entire year go by without changing anything. You will have all the same problems next year that you have now, and possibly even more. Would you like to put your head down in the sand or up in the sky?

What goes up and never comes down?

Your age. Jokes4Us

There’s no such thing as bad habits

Your life is like a garden. Weeds are always growing. Life weeds are the issues that inevitably come up in relationships, work, health, or finances, for example. You have to continue to weed your life garden in order to refresh your mind, body and soul.

If you decide to concentrate on your most pressing issues one-by-one, in search of solutions, you can eventually find ways to resolve them. Choose to pull the weeds out of your life. If you do, you can look forward to this time next year with excitement and anticipation. Everyone gets one day older every day, but few continue to grow and mature into their full potential day after day. Do you want to be average or above average?


As you plan your most important milestones for each of the upcoming twelve months, have a vision in mind. Close your eyes and picture yourself one year from now. What would you like to be, do or have? How is it different from now? What bridges do you need to build to get there?

As you consider the changes you need to make, it helps to set milestones for the upcoming twelve months. Be reasonable. Don’t underestimate or overestimate what you can do in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. The most important thing is that you get started and create movement in the direction you want to go.

How to have a very happy birthday

Once you begin taking actions to create change, momentum builds and propels you forward, helping you find the ways and means to skip steps and accomplish goals faster than you originally anticipated. The more you engage others in your vision and the more activities you take toward it, the luckier you become.

This can be your happiest birthday ever. Now that you have the gift, it’s up to you to decide what to do with it.

This is your life. Are you who you want to be? Is it everything you dreamed that it would be? Switchfoot

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How to have a very happy birthday

In the summer of 2008, my husband and I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a week. On one day of that trip we signed up for a 4-wheel drive excursion. Our tour guide was a friendly local guy who agreed to show us around his home town, Palo Blanco. We had no idea what we were about to see.

My husband and I have a tradition of traveling during our birthday week. Our birthdays are two days apart in July, so it has always been a good time of year for us to get away together. Although we’ve gone on lots of great trips throughout the Caribbean, South America, Hawaii and Asia, this 4-wheel drive excursion stands out as one of the life-altering experiences I’ll never forget.

Our guide took us through town where we saw people carrying large loads on their heads. We saw laundry hanging on makeshift fences and children sitting along the roadside.

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We saw overloaded trucks passing by people on donkeys. As we got further out of the town, we saw cows, horses and chickens walking along the road.

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One of our first stops was at a farm where my husband and I got to ride a donkey. The man with the donkey didn’t speak English, so our guide translated for us and told him that we came here to celebrate our birthdays. Although I was curious to hear what his response might be, I didn’t ask this man what he would like to do on his next birthday.

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We saw his family’s home which was built with concrete block and rusty metal sheeting. When I asked if I could use their outhouse, one of the women ran into her home to fetch me some toilet paper. They had so little, but it didn’t stop them from being considerate and generous.

This was the scene from the outhouse. I assure you this is much prettier than the picture of the outhouse. This view is better than any I’ve ever had from any of my bathrooms! I suppose they let the stench fester just so people don’t sit around too long.

When it came time to leave, we exchanged waves with them and they greeted us back with smiles. I wished my Spanish was better.

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Next we rode through the hills to an area where our guide’s family lived. When we showed up at his home, we were welcomed by this adorable babe. He invited us to join them the outdoor eating area where his mother offered us some food.

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On the side of the house, there was a table and a few plastic chairs in different colors. From here I could see a fireplace where they cooked in the back. I’ll never forget stepping into his family home. It was a small structure made of concrete block. The floor was compacted dirt. There were a few beds and small tables inside. There were some books on a shelf and a few other items scattered around, but it was virtually empty by western standards. Yet his niece and mom seemed so happy.

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Next we stopped for a snack. We bought some bananas from a man who was probably about 50. Although he was wearing a New York hat, I doubted if he ever visited the USA or any other country. He told jokes we couldn’t understand. He was proud and at ease.

Some people have a (natural or learned) tendency to chuckle away their disappointments. They enjoy the small pleasures of each day, regardless of what they have or what circumstances come their way. It’s easy to spot people like this, especially as they get older and their smile becomes etched into their cheeks.

Happy people live among grumpy people in both modern and developing countries, I thought. 

Today I have the good fortune of reaching my 50th birthday. It sort of feels like a half-way point, but it also feels like every other day of life: a starting point.

After we ate some bananas, our guide took us to a water hole where locals go to cool off, bathe and socialize.

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Teens were jumping into the water from a cliff. I’m guessing they probably had very few possessions, but they all seemed to be practicing teamwork, challenging themselves, and overcoming their fears while having fun.

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Younger kids watched and kicked around in the shallow water. These kids didn’t have any plastic princesses made in China, but they seemed more content than many kids I’ve seen at Disney.

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When these kids started climbing into our ride, our guide tried to shoo them away, but we told him it was ok to let the kids play. We were having just as much fun watching them!

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On the sideline, one of the older girls was teaching some of the younger ones to dance.

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Several hours later, we ended our trip back at the surf. Our bodies were dirtier than when we left, but our spirits were cleaner. I felt sad and happy at the same time.

Although we only observed everyday life during this excursion, the overall experience planted a thought-seed in my mind and that seed quickly sprouted and began to grow. It’s possible to be simply happy. In the years that followed, my husband and I chose to drastically downsize our possessions and simplify our lives.

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Would you like to lift your spirits on your birthday? Here’s how. Go someplace intentionally to make a list of the things you appreciate most. This experience works best if you put yourself in an environment surrounded by people of a lower socioeconomic situation than you. You don’t need to go to another country to do this. You can probably do this a short distance from your home. I assure you that you’ll gain priceless insights.

Although I first considered writing a post about the 50 people I appreciate most, such as my husband, I quickly realized that it could upset some people who didn’t make the list. That’s why you won’t see family members, teachers or friends on this list.

Make a list: the goal here is to take your age in years and have that number be the same number of items you include in your list. You get to list 35 items on your 35th birthday and 75 items on your 75th birthday, for example. It’s sort of along the lines of a gratitude journal, but even simpler since you don’t need to write full sentences.

Your list probably won’t look anything like mine. We all go through very different life experiences that affect what’s most important to us now. But you may find it interesting to glance at my list to get your creative juices flowing.

If you really want to challenge yourself, try to prioritize the items in the order that they matter most to you. This isn’t an easy task!

I like to ask people on their birthdays what they hope for most in the upcoming year. The most common response is “good health.” Although this is a top priority for me as well, I avoided esoteric things like this on the list. Saying that you want good health is like saying you want to be rich. It’s all relative. Good health and riches are effects and pursuits that are never fully attained.

Here is a list of things I appreciate most in life as my oldometer rolls over to 50. Some of them include links to blog posts I’ve written.

  1. fresh air – Free fresh air: Hurry! Offer ends soon
  2. clean bodies of water – Dear Diary, this is the day I decided to drink distilled water
  3. indoor plumbing
  4. home – Michael Mobbs offers 9 tips for a more sustainable home 
  5. safe and comfortable bed – WAKE UP and read the label on your mattress
  6. community centers
  7. organic vegetables
  8. fresh fruits
  9. whole grains
  10. legumes
  11. spices
  12. sharp knives
  13. heat
  14. recipes
  15. toothbrushes
  16. sunshine
  17. electricity
  18. smart phones
  19. lightweight computers
  20. eyeglasses
  21. lights
  22. comfortable furniture
  23. handbags
  24. farmers markets
  25. wheels (on carts, luggage and so on)
  26. tea – Ten terrific reasons to drink tea
  27. bikes
  28. books
  29. trees
  30. blenders
  31. squat toilets – Why you ought to squat a lot: 7 benefits of squat toilets
  32. comfortable shoes
  33. backpacks
  34. public transportation (subways, light rails, buses, airplanes)
  35. healthy restaurants – Popular restaurant rating apps are missing some stars
  36. green design
  37. cultural diversity – WARNING: Old people and frogs may trigger culture shock
  38. documentaries
  39. plants
  40. refrigerators
  41. clothes made with natural fabrics – Choose natural fabrics over synthetics
  42. washing machines – Laundry study shows Americans have few hangups
  43. nonprofits
  44. music
  45. jokes – Jokes for your friends who are sick and tired
  46. lifelong learning – Tips on aging for all ages: more museums, less food
  47. henna
  48. photos
  49. art
  50. mirrors

Once you start making your list, you’ll see that the things you like most (nouns) tend to be the things that give you the opportunity to do the things you like to do (verbs) with the people you like to be around. So you could easily continue on with a list of the things you like to do, for example.

If you decide to make a list each year on your birthday, it would be interesting to save them and see how they change over time. What’s most important to you when you’re in your 30s will surely evolve by the time you’re in your 50s or 70s.

One of the best gifts you can give yourself each year on your birthday is time to reflect on the things that matter most to you. This exercise is more valuable than acquiring random gifts that clutter your physical and mental space. As you conduct a mental review of how much you have, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that you can get rid of some stuff.

After making my list, I gained clarity about some things I had to let go and some new things I had to put in place in order to accomplish my purpose. This year I realized that I needed to make some improvements in my work area so that I could be more efficient with my writing time.

After you make your list, please let me know what insight you discover.

I wish you a very happy birthday followed by many more happy and healthy ones!