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There are no calories in
anything you eat on your birthday.
Source: Totally not true. But that’s
my story and I’m sticking to it.
As Greg Allman sang, “I’m no angel”.
But I am a much
better person than I was not so long ago.
When I was in
my twenties, I was as narcissistic and self-centered as they
come. I was also impatient and never satisfied.
years passed, I grew up and developed a better set of values. I
found that it really does feel better to give than to receive,
and became a giver.
I’m no Bill Gates, but have given
away a mini-van, a Jaguar, and a Land Rover to families in need.
Each time I found it intriguing that I got more pleasure from
the few minutes it took to give them away than from all the
years I drove them.
Then one year I read a story about
how commercialized Christmas had become, and it occurred to me
how ironic it is that people celebrate Christ’s birthday by
doing something I’m pretty sure He wouldn’t want – focusing on
“stuff” instead of people. So I then began an annual tradition
of going to Goodwill each Christmas and giving $100 bills to
families who look like they could use a little help.
While I eventually found the peace and satisfaction I lacked in
my younger years, the one thing I didn’t find was patience. In
fact, the opposite occurred. The older I get, the more impatient
I get with my three big pet peeves:
1. People who
take so freely but give little in return
2. People who are
ungrateful for what they have been given
3. People who
don’t put their money where their mouth is (both figuratively
One thing that hasn’t changed as I’ve
gotten older is that I still believe birthdays are the one day
of the year everyone is entitled to be the most selfish,
self-centered, self-indulgent narcissist in the world and not
feel guilty about it.
For this reason, I’ve celebrated
mine in some pretty fun ways, from racing Ferraris and
Lamborghinis, to flying a Jetpack in Key West to driving a
mini-submarine in the Caribbean to sky-jumping off the top of
the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.
But after I turned 50, I
kept thinking about the BB King song “The Thrill Is Gone”. I
didn’t want to lose the excitement of birthdays, but there
wasn’t much left that gave me a jolt like those things.
Then it hit me.
I got so much pleasure from performing
random acts of kindness for strangers at Christmas, there was no
reason I couldn’t do the same on my own birthday – and ask
others to do it as well.
I’m grateful to be able to turn
a year older (because it sure beats the alternative). So I
decided I should practice what I preach by showing my gratitude.
I began on my 51st birthday by giving an envelope containing
$51 to the manager at McDonald’s to pay for breakfast of the
people after me. Then we carried a birthday cake to a local fire
station. Then a young woman named Erica Woodbury in Huron, SD,
took the idea and ran with it by performing 51 Random Acts of
Kindness for total strangers, and a new annual tradition called
“Pay It Forward Birthdays” was born.
On October 20,
2017, I’ll turn 54. We’ll begin the celebration by dropping off
$54 at McDonald’s, and then taking a cake to the Police
Department, and so on. (The cake idea isn’t completely
altruistic. I’d gain 15 pounds from eating it all if I didn’t).
If you’ve reached a point in life where you don’t
exactly anticipate birthdays any longer, I challenge you to ask
people to perform a random act of kindness for a total stranger
in your honor.
I guarantee you it will be the most
memorable birthday you’ll ever have, AND you’ll start looking
forward to birthdays again.
aka Birthday Boy
If you’d like to participate in my Pay It Forward
Birthday celebration this year, perform a random act of kindness
for a total stranger before October 20, and email it to
HappyBirthdayGlenn@Yahoo.com. My Beautiful Bride prints out
the emails and gives them to me in a three-ring binder on the
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