29 years ago, in a hospital far, far away…

Yesterday was my birthday.

I have a longstanding tradition of not celebrating my birthday. In fact, I stopped telling most people (and social media sites) when it was just to avoid having it acknowledged, because for five years in a row it seemed like something unusually bad would pick that day to occur.

I work part time at a concert venue, and yesterday I had a shift at the Radiohead show. I’m not allowed to blog about what happened, so I won’t, but from what I read afterwards in the news, it was not exactly a bubbling cup of positivity.

The thing is, when I woke up that morning (well, closer to noon, actually), I was in a great mood. I cooked myself a nice, big breakfast and ate it next to an open window. It was a beautiful, sunny day and my neighbour was practicing guitar on the back patio.

While waiting for my shift to start, I had a great conversation with some of my coworkers. I’ve only worked four shifts so far, so I still don’t know many people, but I’m making friends. I’ve always been socially awkward so that’s a big deal for me.

When I got home (after calling my mother to assure her I was fine. I tend to get a worried phone call anytime something in the GTA makes the news), I unloaded to my roommate. I went to put some things in my room, and when I came back she had a birthday card (even though I’d been careful not to tell her when my birthday was), another from our other roommate who recently moved out, and an iTunes gift card. We ordered too much pizza and ate too much cake and watched a poorly censored movie on TV.

I recently read about a study which showed that focusing on the positive things in life — actively recalling and thinking about them with deliberate effort — can improve a person’s overall happiness. I’m trying to do that. I’ve deleted old blogs which focused on more negative thoughts, or enabled or encouraged them. I’ve started new blogs (this one and one on Tumblr) which I’m trying to dedicate to happier thoughts.

I’m not saying bad things don’t happen, but I’m working harder to move past them and get to the next good thing. I’m not cataloguing them like I did before. Instead I’m cataloging my achievements, motivations, and sources of joy.

(The cynical pessimist in me would like to step forward and acknowledge that I’m fully aware that I sound like a dirty hippy.)

Yesterday something bad happened near me. It was a tragedy, and my thoughts go out to those more directly affected by the event, but I want to look back on my 29th birthday and remember a beautiful breakfast and a thoughtful roommate. I will acknowledge all the events of that day in my memory, but I won’t cling to the two hours I spent near an event. I will hold on to the 22 hours I spent living one.

And they were good.

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