There are several truisms about what it takes to like our lives a little more; life hacks, if you will.
One involves having something to look forward to, another involves festooning your life with celebrations, and another truism may or may not involve copious amounts of vodka — but for now I’ll keep this sober and just focus on the first two.
I’m proposing that we combine the life-liking factors of positive anticipation with celebration, by unabashedly making up reasons to “live it up”. I’m also suggesting we do this on a regular basis, in an unapologetically contrived way.
For example, I celebrate the 333rd day of the year — partly because I am a superstitious weirdo who loves the number three — but mostly because I want a day to look forward to, an excuse to plan a day of fun, and a day to live out the cockamamie fun plans I’ve dreamed up. (Day 333 was this past Saturday, and The Husband and I devised a day that started with a run that ended EXACTLY in front of Do-Rite Donuts, where our bag of pre-ordered sprinkle-covered fried dough was waiting for us. The rest of the day was mapped out and yes, it did include so-bad-they-were-good movies from the 90s, on the couch, with ramen for dinner.)
Lives worth living rarely happen to us. We have to engineer them, and once we get past the disappointment of that truth, we can really get on with living like we mean it.
Manufacturing moments of fun and enjoyment.
You, too, can enjoy the wonders of made-up holidays. Here is a random assortment of fabricated fun days:
- The longest day of the year. Check out this post for inspiration to plan a whirlwind of a day from the moment the sun rises until it sets! (Or just do it at your own pace, like a normal person.)
- The shortest day of the year. Don’t throw shade on this unpopular day! When most people have plunged the depths of sun-less despair on December 21st-ish, I’m all giddy that EVERY DAY FROM THIS POINT ON IS GETTING LONGER! (I am annoyingly optimistic. I can find a silver lining in Covid, afterall.)
- Monday Nite Date Nite. It’s a thing around our house, because Mondays suck and The Husband and I need something to look forward to on the saddest day of the week. We giddily “cheers to MNDN!” with our glass of whatever leftover wine is on the go, have the easy meal we’ve plotted in advance (hello, gluten-free fish sticks, thank you for swimming your way back into my life), and hunker down for whatever date night looks like for people who have been together for 23.5 years. (A lot of Netflix followed by a frisky finish of HGTV.)
- First date anniversary. Celebrate the shit out of that day! The seeds of love were planted! Re-enact the date if you can…
- Half birthdays. No explanation needed. (But if you do need an explanation, it’s when you or someone else is at the half-way mark to their next birthday. Surprise someone with a half-cake and a half-assed present!)
- Half lifetimes. So this one kind of went over like a lead balloon when I took The Husband out to dinner on the exact day he turned 38.1, because men die on average at 76.2 years of age. I had a hard time finding him a “half life” birthday card, but I made do. He was a little weirded out by what I believed to be a thoughtful gesture. Choose your recipients of this celebration wisely, friends.
- Leap days. Oh man, for a girl obsessed with getting extra time in life, this is like my Christmas. It’s a total bonus day every four years and therefore must be savored!
- Celebrations of small wins. I love having big reasons to celebrate but they are too few and far between. Why not celebrate the milestones, the wee little accomplishments? A client of mine was slogging away in grad school and after each seven-week class she completed, she had full-on Champagne cork-popping celebrations at home. Her kids even made a Bristol-board sign with a countdown to her degree. Imagining those special evenings got her through the late-night research papers.
- Random weekdays. Why not celebrate the third Tuesday in February? Or just a random Thursday in an otherwise unremarkable week? A close friend of mine says, “Don’t save all your good ‘stuff’ for only special occasions (i.e.: Sunday go-to- meetin’ clothes in the old days); today itself is a gift remember, it is special; use the real silverware, put on the nice sheets, drink that 1990 vintage red Bordeaux”. The bottom line here? Every day we’re alive is kind of a special occasion.
- Silly days. I’m working on a 2021 calendar full of goofy but notable “not to miss” days, like how April 1st is National Burrito Day, and June 4th is Hug Your Cat Day (which is really no different than any other day of the year in this full-on feline molestation household). I’ll send you the PDF when it’s done! (But really — knowing that September 14th is National Live Creative Day… doesn’t that make you want to plan a day of making things? Or at least buying things on Etsy that creative people made?)
Studies tell us that having something to look forward to (whether it’s a week in Kauai, every freaking Friday, or banana splits for dessert) greases the skids to well-being. We also know that savoring celebratory moments (like special anniversaries or National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day*) builds optimism and resilience, especially when we express gratitude.
Cooking up excuses to live with more aliveness is more than just fun — it’s scientifically good for us. And hypothetically speaking, if this was one of the most pandemonium-filled years we’ve ever been alive for, we all need a good dose of something ridiculous to look forward to.
*National Grilled Cheese Day will be on April 12th. I will use Manchego cheese.