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Becoming older never bothered me.
I guess that’s unusual. At least, most of my friends enter a small crisis of meaning right before their birthdays. Like clockwork. And I get it—being confronted with our own impermanence is hard. I agree.
But I always saw my birthday as a chance to celebrate myself. A chance to reflect on how much I’ve grown, and to receive love and attention. But still, on the evening before my 31st birthday, I found myself reflecting on this past year of my life.
Our achievement-oriented Western society teaches us that our worth depends on our performance. It’s measured by the goals we reach, the things we accomplish, how much we get done, and, in some cases, how that translates into certain milestones or possessions.
We’re taught to focus on doing instead of being.
This approach makes me flinch.
And I wonder: what if we were to measure our self-worth not by how much we do, but instead focus on the qualities of our actions and how they make us feel while we live our precious lives?
So, no matter if today is your birthday or not, I invite you to join me in asking these questions:
During this last year of my life…
- Was I joyful?
- Was I kind?
- Did I act from a place of love?
- Was I compassionate?
- Did I love myself?
- Did I treat others with respect?
- Was I willing to be vulnerable?
- Did I appreciate the gifts of nature, connection, and freedom?
- Did I enjoy my body and its ability to carry me through life?
- Did I follow my dreams?
- Was I willing to learn?
- Did I create?
- Did I grow?
- Was I grateful for being alive?
- Did I love with all my heart?
In my humble opinion, these are the things that make life meaningful—each year, each month, each day of our lives.
And if we can’t answer these questions with confidence, let them inspire us to pay attention in the coming year, and seek what is needed to make it happen.
Happy birthday! May this next year be filled with lots of joy, love, and trust.