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Alex Lickerman M.D.

Celebrating Birthdays

A brief list of things for which I'm grateful.

Photo: Aih

One week ago, my family and I celebrated my father's 75th birthday. Even writing that number I find shocking (probably almost as shocking as my father finds reading it). Birthdays have always represented the most important of all celebrations in my family—more important certainly than any local or national holidays. What, after all, could be more important to celebrate for a person and the people who love him or her than the fact of their existence? For what should any of us be more grateful?

Even more than Thanksgiving, birthdays for me represent an occasion to feel gratitude for being alive. For this reason, every year on my birthday, I try to take a moment to list all the things for which I'm grateful. Of course, what makes the list changes year to year. The feeling of gratitude has been shown in studies to enhance subjective well-being, so in listing the thing below for which I'm grateful, I hope to encourage readers to do the same.

In no particular order, I'm grateful:

  1. That the willingness to work hard was somehow built into me.
  2. For excellence in any place I find it.
  3. For the good relationships I have with my family (especially my parents).
  4. For a wife who equals (and in some arenas surpasses) me.
  5. For four good limbs.
  6. For having produced a son with a terrific laugh.
  7. For a practice that enables me to challenge and overcome my weaknesses, even those of which I'm not aware.
  8. For 21st century technology.
  9. For colleagues who are smarter than I am.
  10. That I learned how to say no.
  11. For a job that matters.
  12. For first chances.
  13. That I retain the ability to be humbled.
  14. For a belief in the idea that I'm here to make the world better.
  15. For the ability and willingness to change my mind when I'm proven wrong.
  16. That my parents are still married.
  17. That other people care.
  18. For books and the power of sight to read them.
  19. That I know the exact value of money.
  20. For my mother's German chocolate cake (which she bakes for me every year on my birthday).

What things make your list?

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to visit Dr. Lickerman's home page, Happiness in this World.


About the Author

Alex Lickerman, M.D., is a general internist and former Director of Primary Care at the University of Chicago and has been a practicing Buddhist since 1989.