Having just turned 40 I received a lot more attention than I have in, say, the last nine years. This led me to muse on what makes birthdays so special. Of course it starts around the age of three – I recently observed this with my youngest. He went through the birthday somewhat taken aback at all the attention but has spent the next six months reliving it and anticipating the next one!
It’s the attention we receive that makes us feel so good. Our friends tell us how special we are. Acquaintances and distant family members suddenly phone us and want to know how we are and what we’re doing. We get given gifts, treated with cups of coffee or freedom from some of our usual chores. We get shielded (mostly) from unpleasant news, arguments or tiresome tasks. We feel good. We feel special. We feel recognized. We feel loved and appreciated.
And so, I wondered, what would the world be like if we treated each other more like birthday gals and guys everyday. Sure – not everyone, but those we see and meet that day. What if we enquired how their day had been, smiled and wished them a lovely day? What if we bought some of our friends little ‘unbirthday’ gifts from time to time? Or wrote little cards telling them they were valued? What if we remembered acquaintances and distant family members more often with calls to see how they were doing? What if we decided to ‘spare’ people’s feelings just for today, or relieved them of a chore for no reason?
Would we all feel more special, more treasured, more refreshed?
I personally cannot stand getting birthday wishes from my bank, insurance broker or the like. It doesn’t make me feel appreciated; it makes me feel that they have a very efficient computerized reminder system. And I have forgotten friends’ birthdays on more than one occasion and would certainly not want them to infer a reflection on them because of it. I simply have a bad memory and a busy life. However there is lots of room for sincere appreciation in our lives. And if it’s only on our birthdays, then it’s as good a time as any, but I for one could certainly do with more than just one day like that this year, how about you?