Last Tuesday was my birthday. My 36th birthday. Not a number I was wholly looking forward to. In fact, like any “Oh, no! I'm getting older!" birthday, I was in a massive funk for the week preceding it. I could write article after article on the reasons why I wasn't happy to get older, but suffice it to say, I was bummed out, slammed with very bad PMS, and decided to allow myself to spend the week on the couch watching DVDs, trying to tell myself it would all be over soon. Yet through it all, as much as I didn't want to turn 36, I wanted to have a fabulous birthday. And despite my mood pre-Feb. 21st, I did have a wonderful birthday!
So how did I do it?
For starters, I had planned out my day in advance a few weeks before. I was going to have dim sum in Chinatown with a friend for brunch, come home, bake myself a birthday cake (chocolate AND vanilla frosting, yum!), and then get together with more friends for dinner (sushi!) and have them come over to celebrate my birthday with my cake, with plenty of time during the day to talk to my family and other friends on the phone. So, despite my feelings, I ‘acted on my commitments’ and planned out a fun day.
But my day wasn't just good because I'd planned fun activities for myself (though they were fun!). Or because my friends were super sweet to spend parts of the day with me. I believe the real reason my day was so good was because I decided it would be. The moment I woke up that morning, I announced to myself “It's my BIRTHDAY!" Then, I leaned over my bed and told my cat (who was sitting on the floor) what a special day it was-that, hooray! It was my birthday! One of the most special holidays there is! Then I got up, brushed my teeth and told myself in the mirror that it was MY BIRTHDAY! And I smiled at myself and wished myself a happy birthday again. Then I exercised and meditated (because I knew I was ensuring better chances of a good day if I did both, even though I'd slacked off the week before because I'd been so bummed out). Then, as I got dressed and ready to go, I kept saying (to myself and out loud) “It's my BIRTHDAY!" (Insert big happy smiley face and giddy, excited bounce here). I even sang it to myself in little improvised, rambling melodies as I looked for my mittens, located my purse, put on my make-up. Then I left the house, and got on the bus to go meet my friend.
I found myself looking at the people on the bus and the people out the window and thinking to myself, “It's my BIRTHDAY! I'm so happy! And they have no idea what a great day today is!" I found it hard to contain my smile (this is NYC, after all, so I kept it to an “I've got a super-duper, fabulous secret!" look in my eye rather than a big, toothy grin). Then I got on the train and felt just as giddy.
Then, it hit me.
There was nothing different about this day than any other day! There was nothing different about the bus, the train, the weather, the people around me, or even me. Except I was HAPPY. I was REALLY HAPPY. And the only thing that was different was that I had DECIDED to be happy because it was my birthday. And at any moment when my happiness started to waiver (the train was late, someone glared at me, I thought I was late to meet my friend, etc) I went back to my mantra of the day, “It's my BIRTHDAY!" And it brought me right back to being happy. I only had about 14 hours until it would be over and I wanted to extract every possible ounce of happiness and celebration out of the day, so I sunk my teeth into that mantra like a rotweiller sinks its teeth into a big, juicy steak. I focused on it, I reminded myself of it, and I DID NOT IT LET GO. And you know what? I had a fabulous day! I was happy and the day rose to meet me and was happy back.
So why's it so challenging for me to do that on a daily basis?
Many spiritual paths that include meditative practice refer to the fact that human minds are undisciplined. If meditation were easy, we'd all do it. Heck, if exercising were easy, we'd all do it. But they both take discipline & focus. So does deciding to be happy and doing it. So, why was I able to do it so well on my birthday? Well, for one thing, there's a big difference between being highly focused for ONE day and highly focused EVERY day. Plus, it helps to have had 36 previous birthdays to practice feeling like the day is special. (Some of them have been happy days, some of them haven't been, yet I've still had lots of practice toward making them happy days). And maybe that's it right there: since my mind, during most days, is highly undisciplined, having a set 24 hour period to concentrate on my intention of having a certain kind of a day is a helpful thing. And having something to say to myself (It's my BIRTHDAY!) that doesn't include any words that sound like I'm supposed to DO anything, I'm just supposed to enjoy it, helped a lot too.
It astounded me that I could be so focused for a day, and it made me want to do it more often (how great would it be if we walked around EVERY day feeling giddy just BECAUSE? Or just because it's TODAY! (Insert little dance, smile, and twirl here!). Happiness really, truly is a decision. It's an intention that you stick to. A Course in Miracles says “Heaven is the decision I must make, " and “My present happiness is all I see, " and I believe it really is all up to us. Our happiness IS all we see when that's what we look for; when that's what we remind ourselves to see, when that's what we will seek out even when it appears that that isn't what we see. Heaven is a decision we can make-and it's our choice whether we make that decision or not. Every moment of our day we can have a secret smile on our lips and a glint in our eyes that is the same as when it really is our birthday. Our job is just to decide to do it and stick to it the best we can. I know I can do it on my birthday, so it must follow that I could do it any other day as well. And I know the same is true for you. Wouldn't it be more fun to have EVERY day be our birthday? What do you say? Shall we decide? (Insert glint in eye and secret smile here!)
(c) 2008 Rebecca P. Soulette
Life Coach, Rebecca Soulette, CFLC III, is a senior level coach certified through the Fearless Living Institute. She is an expert in helping her clients to live fulfilling and balanced lives packed full of inspiration, joy, and freedom. She offers FREE ecourses, resources, teleclasses, private 1:1 and group coaching. For more information or to sign up for her FREE email newsletter, check out http://www.RebeccaSoulette.com
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