8 Ways to Embrace Your Next Milestone Birthday
Got a milestone birthday coming up? Instead of dreading your 30th, 50th, or even your 75th birthday, learn how to embrace it with these tips from wellness counsellor Deepak Kashyap.
1. Know that you won’t always feel this way.
Dreading your upcoming milestone birthday? Take comfort in knowing that this fear of feeling old, worn-out or past your prime won’t last. In fact, according to recent research, it’s very common for self-esteem to increase with age. That’s not entirely surprising when you consider that every year, you develop a greater understanding of the world around you—as well as yourself.
2. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
Dwelling on the things that age has taken away from you will take you down a very dark and unhappy path. Ultimately, you’ll begin to question your achievements, as well as doubt your ability to achieve anything greater in the years ahead. It’s important to remember that you had limitations in your youth, just as you have limitations now. You'll stand a better chance of reaching your goals if you focus on making use of your abilities, rather than demonizing your disabilities.
3. Don’t play the numbers game.
Practice describing yourself without including your age. You are so much more than a number, and defining yourself by your achievements, skills and most fulfilling relationships can contribute to a much healthier self-image.
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4. Rethink your milestone birthday party.
Sometimes what we're actually dreading most about a milestone birthday isn't the prospect of getting older—it's the party. If you're deeply uncomfortable about a big bash in your honour, take the reins and plan your own birthday party alternative. Instead of a grand cake-and-candles affair, consider devoting your birthday to one-on-one time with the people who are important to you. If any lesson is learned with the passing of the years, it’s how valuable your time is. Invest yours in a productive and meaningful way by scheduling tea with a mentor, or someone who looks to you as a mentor. Set up a Skype date with a far-flung family member who you’ve been meaning to catch up with. Nothing cultivates gratitude like a reminder of how much you love—and are loved in return.
5. Rethink your milestone birthday gifts.
If your friends and family do insist on a party, request a donation to a charity of your choice in lieu of gifts. “Donating your birthday” as it’s become known, is an increasingly popular option—and it’s ultimately much more meaningful than the gift of another knick-knack that’s destined to collect dust on the mantel. We are a value-driven species, and a charity that represents your values can drive lasting change—a legacy, even—beyond what you might achieve as an individual.
Want to cultivate a “glass-half-full” mentality? Try adopting these healthy habits of optimistic people.
6. Use your birthday to kick-off a new project.
Sure, the “young blood” might bring an unbridled energy and enthusiasm to the table, but the older we get, the better we are at channeling those innovative powers in an effective way. Take Colonel Sanders, for example. The founder of KFC didn’t get around to building his fast food empire until he was in his late 60s (and recovering from a bout of depression, to boot). He’s one of many who tapped his accumulated knowledge and wisdom to kick-off a new endeavour at an age that cynics might consider “past his prime.”
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7. Pass something on.
Instead of making cash donations to a charity, how about giving the gift of your time and expertise? Your experiences through the years have led you to master at least one skill set (be it personal or professional), and your birthday is a fantastic opportunity to pass on those skills as a mentor. Think back to how much you owe that generous colleague or teacher who coached you as you were setting out on your career path, and make the effort to pay it forward. Not only are you helping out the next generation, you're also likely to find the experience deeply rewarding on a personal level.
Think you’ve got no time to make a difference? Think again. Here are 30 simple acts of kindness you can do in two minutes or less.
8. Embrace the anxiety.
Don’t think yourself foolish or wrong in feeling anxious about your upcoming milestone birthday. This anxiety is perfectly natural. One of the best ways to deal with this anxiety is to first acknowledge it, and then journal your thoughts in response. Documenting your feelings by putting pen to paper is a valuable practice that allows you to see the structure of your thoughts and ultimately change your way of thinking. That's essential if you want to shift your perspective on aging, and start thinking of getting older as a blessing rather than a curse.
Need more help dealing with anxiety? Check out these stress management tips from the pros.
Toronto-based meditation and wellness expert Deepak Kashyap provides mindfulness-based counselling for individuals and groups through the Toronto Mindfulness Centre.