In 24 days I turn 40. Yep… Forty years old. Wow – it really sounds old, doesn’t it? For a long time I thought turning 40 just happened to other people, but then it started happening to me too.
It started about 16 days ago to be precise. I had a lunch date at a local cafe with a long-time girlfriend, Sarah, who arrived with a helium balloon. One of those big ones that announced to all the diners *exactly* how old I was. Not that I have any real issue with getting older per se but I dislike the need to label everything. Suddenly I’m not just ‘having a birthday’ like every other year. Nope – this year I’m ‘turning 40’.
Sarah explained that the ‘b-i-g-4-0’ balloon was a sybolic marker since it was exactly 40 days until I turned 40. Oh great, I thought! Twice the fun! Her grand plan that she unveiled over lunch included a calendar with cryptic clues marked out on the next … you guessed it…. 40 days.
She explained that for the next 40 days I would be receiving a gift of some kind that would help me celebrate this amazing age I’m turning. She thinks that you spend your 20s trying to get out there and live life but making loads of mistakes. That you spend your 30s trying to sort out some of those mistakes and work out who you really are. Apparently when you arrive at your 40s you finally feel like you’ve got it all worked out. Your life gains some stability and you become comfortable in your own skin with the person you’ve become.
It’s true that I tried a hell of a lot in my 20s and I certainly made mistakes a plenty. My 30s did involve a lot of cleaning up and soul searching, so maybe she’s right about turning 40?
When I spend a moment looking back, what startles me most is how happy I should be. I have so many of the things I strived for and worked hard for, but day to day I sometimes struggle to find happiness. To genuinely feel happy in the moment.
Rewind back to Sarah and the 40 days of turning 40, and each day so far I have felt happy. We’re 16 days into it, and each one has brought me a sense of contentedness that is not the norm. The gifts themselves have been thoughtful and sweet; a lamb roast with a bunch of rosemary one day so I can cook a fabulous dinner for my partner, a bottle of nailpolish in my favourite colour (pink) another day, and taken out for brunch on a Saturday morning to a place of my choosing. It got me thinking a lot about why it was making me so happy. I’m not a material person, so it wasn’t so much the gifts themselves, it was more the feelings they left me with, which after a while I identified as gratitude.
Yes, what I felt was grateful for the beautiful person in my life that was finding a way to make me feel special every day of the 40 days of 40. Slowly the dots were connecting for me. If I can find something to be grateful for in every single day, perhaps that’s where the happiness has been hiding?
And so the gratitude quest begins!