Birthday Reflection – 3 things I’ve learned

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, my birthday always triggers reflection. Mainly I think about my life thus far and “how I am doing” – whatever the hell that means.
I’m not sure this is such a good thing, as I suffer from the “comparing my insides with your outsides” conundrum.
Plus, there is the endless torrent of social and media messages internalized as “expectations” for how my life should be going.
Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my mind is the thought that because I am not a billionaire with six-pack abs, I have somehow made a mess of my life.
And here lies the first key learning in my life thus far – filtering out the culturally induced cacophony (like that) and defining your life on your terms is essential for achieving peace of mind and happiness.
I’m sure most of you figured that out years ago. Not so for me. Ideas with cobwebs were in my head, driving me in uncritically challenged directions for many years. Hopefully, much of that has stopped.
The good news is that the older I get, the more evident what matters to me has become. Pursuing the right things for me becomes more accessible and has the bonus that it makes me happier.
And indeed, I am a pleased person today. Too bad my face and posture don’t always show it. I’m working on that (see #3 below).
Most, if not all, of this happiness, is directly attributable to the people who have been or are in my life.
Herein lies my second key learning in life – what matters most to me today is the quality of my interactions with others.
How much thoughtfulness do I bring into them? Was I engaged or distracted? Was I kind or simply expedient (and abrupt)? Was I funny?
Was I more worried about my smartphone than the person in front of me?
And, am I spending time with the right people for me? Are these people I respect, enjoy, and love who, in turn, appreciate a bit of what I bring to the table?
And what I strive to bring to the table is my third key learning – a commitment toward continuous improvement. Lofty, I know, but I am sincere about this even when I fail.
Quality lasts, where lack of it distracts. A single typo can overwhelm excellent content.
Taking the time to get “it” right (whatever “it” is)  develops patience, concentration, and skill (aka “craft”). There is a cliché I like, “do it right, do it once!”  Wouldn’t that be nice?
Plus, there is the added benefit that seeking feedback for improvement and adopting new learnings requires humility – the most spiritual of all virtues. Rarely is more humility a bad thing?
So, I might not have a billion dollars or the ability to lift my shirt and flash killer abs. So what!
Instead, I have a wife I love and a son who delights. And so much else. If I told you everything, I think I have; you’d say I was bragging. So I won’t. Remember what I said about humility.
Mainly I appreciate all of it and understand how delicate the balance keeps it all there. Not all my friends made it this past year.
And for this on my birthday, THANK YOU to my family, friends, and acquaintances – without you all, I couldn’t be the person I am. No man is an Island.
Mostly, I hope we can spend some time together soon.

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