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What You Get Depends on What Your Bring

I now officially own the title of "old" man. So I found it humorous that there were black balloons for 30th, 40th, and 50th birthdays.
Picture of Karl Palachuk

Karl W. Palachuk
April 21, 2024

Birthday Balloons

Not too long ago, I was wandering through the party supplies aisle at a store and I was struck by the color of birthday balloons. For the record, I now officially own the title of “old” man. So I found it humorous that there were black balloons for 30th, 40th, and 50th birthdays. This particular store had no black balloons for 60th and above birthdays.


I was struck with the concept of perspective. Like many “older” folks, I find it absolutely hilarious when a twenty-something thinks 30 is old. Or when a thirty-something thinks 40 or 50 is old. I have to say, just speaking for myself: My fifties were the best decade of my life! And my sixties are pretty great, too.

I think if you asked people to look back on any previous decade and assign colors for their balloons, most people would assign colors that had everything to do with what they were going through, who they were with, and what stood out as the most important events in their lives at the time. I don’t think you’d find too many black balloons.

Of course the black balloons are more about humor than true expectations, but they do point out a fundamental truth: If you bring cheerfulness and high expectations to a situation, you dramatically improve the odds that the outcome will be positive. Those who look at milestone birthdays as an opportunity to focus on everything they haven’t accomplished are probably not aware of a fundamental truth: No one’s life turns out like they expected!

For some odd reason, we are able to look back in history and see the massive changes that took place decade by decade (We’ve dedicated an entire industry to creating documentaries about this.). But when we look forward, we somehow think we the world will look more or less like today, and we can both make a plan for the future and execute it.

Most of us work in a job that did not exist when we were growing up. So we couldn’t plan to be where we are today. And when we look back, the milestones are not years ending in zero. The milestones are our first real job, the birth of children, anniversaries that end in zero, and other memories.

Consider, as you look forward to your next big milestone: What will you bring to the occasion? Positive or negative, it will make a huge difference.


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