Thank-you for your Happy Birthday wishes on Wednesday.

One of my favourite proclamations was an in-person greeting from a client who congratulated me on “living another year.” Now that could win the title for Most Disingenuous or it could be genuine to the core. Knowing the proclaimer as I do, my vote is for the latter.

Reflecting on those words makes me realize, that’s really what Happy Birthday means. For years I have been slightly grumpy and mildly rude about my birthday. I really don’t like the fact that the scoreboard clock clearly shows I have less time left in the game. I’m always in too much of a hurry for my own good, and I often think – will I ever get done everything I have set out to do?

So how come Mr. Obstinate is changing his views on birthdays? Is it age? Surely its not just three words from a friend. Is it success. Is it failure? Is it mid-life crisis?

Candidly it’s probably reflection. In the past several months I have amped up my personal reflection time, use of motivational CD’s and magazines, and even gone so far to revamping my self-management tools to include more introspection.

One of the neatest things I have learned is the Habit of Gratitude. There are many, many, many versions, teachings, philosophies available on the topic. But I have really picked up on the simple process of everyday identifying three (yes me love threes!) events from my day, for which I should be grateful. It could be feedback from a client, it could be hiring a talented new staff member, it could be a really satisfying workout, phone conversation, or time spent with a family member. It’s amazing how identifying three positive occasions in a twenty-four hour window, can eradicate most negative events in a day.

So back to my birthday (it was January 16th if you want to mark it in your 2014 calendar!) and my three treasures? Hard to narrow down… but let me throw these at you and see if your reaction would be as grateful as mine:
1. My son posted the following on Facebook: “Happy birth dad…ur the best dad ever.” Might have been written before, but when its written for you… it feels like the first time.
2. My wife and kids performed the version of Happy Birthday we recently learned at the Alphorn in Collingwood, during my youngest son’s celebration. I think it needs to replace the traditional version, with all due respect to Preston Ware Orem and friends.
3. I received my annual birthday phone message, from a childhood friend who now lives in Georgia. I have known him for over forty years and for the past twenty, no matter where he is… he leaves me a birthday voice mail. A simple tradition, yet I am always a tiny but surprised, and always a lot bit pleased, when it comes.