I know, as an adult, it’s not cool to be all excited about a birthday. You’re supposed to play it down, mourn your advancing age, etc. Well, I say hooey. I really like celebrating my birthday. It gives me an opportunity to plan fun stuff ahead of time. Studies of happiness find that the anticipation of enjoyable experiences makes them even more enjoyable. And planning things, personally, is a good way to make sure they happen.
I suspected this before writing 168 Hours. When my husband and I turned 40 and 30 in the same year, we reached an agreement that we would both be responsible for our own celebrations. That way, we would each get the party we wanted. He planned a dinner for his siblings and mom at a nice restaurant. I held a cooking party at the Institute for Culinary Education. Since I had to book the party several weeks in advance, I got to savor the idea of it for quite a while.
I’m not doing anything big for my birthday this Sunday (I’m turning 32, not exactly a milestone), but in keeping with what I learned from writing 168 Hours, I’m trying to plan lots of smaller, fun things to still make a great few days of peak experiences. I have some anchor events: dinner out with my husband on Friday night, my choir concert on Saturday night (at Smokey Mary’s in Times Square at 8pm — see here for tickets), and my parents will be in town for the weekend. I’m trying to plan in some other fun stuff: a massage, possibly a trip to the train show at the NY Botanical Gardens. Maybe I’ll hit an art museum too.
A birthday gives me a reason to inject lots of fun into my life, but of course it doesn’t have to be one’s birthday to have a fun few days. One of the chapters of my next book is going to be about consciously choosing to spend on experiences (rather than stuff). I’d love to write about a few people who design some peak days, and how the experience felt. Let me know if you’re up for it!