Eleven Discoveries Upon Turning 40

40Turning a year older usually means a cake, presents, and possibly an off-key a capella chorus of waiters and waitresses intent on embarrassing you. However, a birthday can also change one’s view of life. That seems to be the way it is when a person transitions form 39 to 40. I know, I know . . . it’s an age that is often so scary that folks avoid using the number itself, instead choosing to remain stuck on 39 for decades.

Something happens, however, when a person reaches that milestone year in their life. My birthday was on Saturday and it was like I had somehow awoken wiser. Maybe it’s due to that 3 in my age becoming a 4. I’m not quite sure. But it makes things a lot more significant all of a sudden.

So, in fashion to the style of the Internet these days, here are a few words of wisdom that I’d like to share with you about life:

* Make your days count. I now understand how long the Israelites roamed the wilderness as they waited to get into the Promised Land. Forty years is quite a long time! It’s important to make a positive difference in the lives of those you come into contact with. Life is way too short to harbor grudges and stay negative about any/everything around you. Otherwise, you’re the one stuck in the wilderness.

* Don’t work so hard that you forget to see, admire, and appreciate the finer things in life. You only get one crack at living, so take the time to spend playing games with your kids, acting goofy, or even singing one of your favorite songs at the top of your lungs (you might want to try the latter in front of a mirror first, but that’s completely your call).

* Read a book once a month (if not more often). In this day and age, we’re so accustomed to having information dispensed to us in lists, memes, emoji, and 140-character screeds that people a century ago wouldn’t be able to decipher. So why not give a book a chance? (As a bonus, pick up a classic work and spend time with it.)

* Put down the phone, tablet, or other electronic device once in a while. I share a birthday with my now 13 year-old daughter. She needs to have me spend time with her that’s not dependent on me tapping on a screen and zoning out for longer than I think. So does the rest of the family, come to think of it… (Note: this goes for eating at a restaurant as well–I cannot tell you the number of families I’ve seen that are all on their devices simultaneously or playing with the digital kiosk-thing at the table.) People are way more important than checking your Facebook feed for the 25th time or trying to better your high score on Crossy Road (in case you’re wondering, my best is 234).

* Be spontaneous. Over time, we tend to get quite predictable in life. We go to the same places, do the same things, take the same path to the same destination. It’s time that you changed things up on occasion. Instead of running out and grabbing some takeout from the burger joint, go to a Thai place. Or, better yet, craft a dinner that will leave people floored. Go to the park and shoot some hoops (or go swing on the swings). Pay for someone else’s coffee at the local store. Ditch the movie stars on the DVD and go look at the actual stars outside. The possibilites are endless!

* Dare to dream. Do you still have hopes and aspirations? Hopefully, those fires haven’t dimmed in the light of juggling competing time demands. Take some time to write them down, then start the process to make them happen!

* Take up a new hobby. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn origami. Or learn to play frisbee golf. It doesn’t have to be something huge, but you can liven up things with a simple addition to your free time. And if you don’t have any free time, why not? Consider ways to build some into your life.

* Enjoy the company of family and friends. Life isn’t meant to be lived in a vacuum. Instead, it is to be enjoyed with other people. Find a community event to attend (or even create one of your own!). Have some folks over for dinner and games. Live life while you have the chance to.

* Remember the value of faith. The writer of Hebrews (11:1) says that faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Even though it’s great to do all the above things, we should take time and reflect on what the future holds–both here on earth and after we die. If you’re not sure about that last one, Jesus talks quite a bit about what happens. We would all do well to consider His words.

* Make a difference in someone’s life. One of my personal aphorisms is this: “If you don’t think anyone in the world loves you, take a look at your Facebook account on your birthday.” It’s a very easy way to be reminded that you do matter to people. It’s also a great reminder that you’ve made a difference in the lives of others. We can always go a step further, so think about what that might look like for you–then put it into action.

*  In order to make certain things happen in life, we often sacrifice parts of who we are upon the altar of conformity. When we do this, we’re robbing ourself–and others–of who we are. Always strive to get better–more patient, less angry, eager to smile, increasing in joy, abounding in love and respect. But at the same time, don’t forget to remain true to who you were created to be. Life without you wouldn’t be the same!

I’m hoping the next 40 years are going to be fantastic ones. It’s going to make each day a unique adventure that I share with each of you!

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