#321 Taking the day off on your birthday

Once upon a time I ran a sandwich shop.

Yes, it was back in the early 00’s when I was a mayo-squirting kingpin working in the sticky, mustard-smeared sandwich underbelly. Surrounding me were a hodgepodge of acne-covered teenage longhairs who clocked in each day to slice tomatoes, chop green peppers, and fill paper cups right to the foamy brim.

Now, it was just a small shop in the corner of a dusty plaza in the suburbs and we had maybe a dozen folks on payroll, tops. As you can imagine, we got tight pretty quickly and little social norms started bubbling up — things like last one there gets the morning coffees, sobbing uncontrollably while chopping onions is completely acceptable, and everyone dresses up in full costume on Halloween.

Of course, by far and away the most popular house rule we developed was everyone gets their birthday off. It was pretty easy to schedule and the excitement leading up to those big days gave us all giddy little schoolkid highs.

Nope, we don’t get many birthdays on this spinny wet rock so let’s try to take them off.


Why do you read 1000 Awesome Things?

Photos from: here, here, and here

132 thoughts on “#321 Taking the day off on your birthday

  1. I just discovered 1,000 Awesome Things yesterday, after watching Neil’s Ted Talk. I am fairly certain it will be featured on my daily to-do list from now on. And on top of the lift I’ll get from reading it, I’ll get a bonus lift from being able to check it off my to-do list. So thank you, twice.

  2. Hey Neil. I love reading your site because at the end of the pain that goes along with life, sometimes I take for granted the little silly things that really take the edge off, like bubble wrap and birthdays.
    I only have worked one birthday, and I loved the people I worked with. But when the rush would die down, I’d mock-tear down all of the bulletins and act like a caveman, just so i could give them indignant looks and say “hey! HEY! It’s my birthday, all right?!” To be fair, though, that was part of my birthday week and not the actual birthday.

  3. I read because I like looking at things from the happy side because that usually leads to making me happy; finding someone who tries too makes me smile. Being Happy is awesome ::)

  4. I started reading 1000 Awesome Things when someone posted #844 on Facebook. I mean who doesn’t love celebrities on Sesame Street?? I keep coming back because it makes me smile, laugh and feel good about the world when there are so many other things that bring me down. Then one day I sent Neil and idea – AND HE USED IT! There are the days that Freddo’s posts make almost spew coffee on my keyboard and other days that Neil’s beautiful writing bring a tear to my eye.

    I just love it here…

  5. I read it because you remind me of how awesome the most mundane things really are. And because I absolutely NEED to be reminded of the good things in life because right now, I’m in a sucky place. These happy, upbeat awesome things help me make it through the day and help me remember that everything isn’t bad and nothing STAYS bad. Thank you so much!

  6. I ready “1000 Awesome things” because it almost always makes me laugh, reflect and create conversations with each posting!
    I really enjoy it!

  7. Thanks Neil, You made my day. I came here from TED after watching your talk. I am going through a bump and you reminded me of enjoying the marvelous little things in life.

  8. I started reading the site after seeing the book recommended by Heather? of Chapters Indigo on their website, when I was doing a search for a very serious topic.
    I was hooked instantly, and rushed to the store to buy the book as well! Thank you, Neil, for reminding us how the simplest things in life can be amazingly awesome!

  9. i love seeing what, in your world, is awesome… and learn something from it… seeing life through a different paradigm.

    today, in your world, it’s about birthdays; in my world it’s about finding amazing mp3 albums on amazon for free (tony lucca to be specific). awesome.

  10. I read 1000A as a reminder of how far I have moved into the world of Awesome. I would never have thought to take a birthday day off let alone plan an adventure. Now it is the first thing that gones on a new claendar, next is my facial schedule, then my vacations.
    Thank you for the reminders.

  11. 1000 Awesome Things inspired me to actually do something with my own blog. It’s always funny and well-written, often quite eloquent. It’s my internet homepage. I’m always very sad on Saturday and Sunday when there isn’t a new awesome thing, because a lot of the things you pick are really genuinely great things that are oftentimes overlooked. Thanks for keeping the world awesome.

    ps. if you aren’t a nerdfighter, you’re too awesome not to be.

  12. I read it purely because I love, love it and how can you not appreciate the small things that make you laugh and smile through the day ? Discovered it through a shared link on Facebook !!

  13. I’ve been a fan of 1000 Awesome Things from early on in the countdown, for a few reasons. Often the posts make me laugh, but sometimes they make me wistful or nostalgic. And sometimes, frankly, even disgusted — what was with #332-” When the dust gets so big you can pick it up with your hand”? (Ewww). But they always make me feel something that heightens my appreciation for the little things in life and reminds me not to take myself or my worries too seriously. I think your observations also make us all feel more connected, which may seem like a paradox for this “virtual” setting. But things like the cold side of the pillow, cheesy 80s songs, getting the cereal to milk ratio right — they’re little quirks that we often think are unique to ourselves. So sharing them gives us permission to embrace these things with gusto and feel a little less weird the next time we relish in them. That’s how I see it, anyway. But if 1000 Awesome Things has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not the only one.

  14. Why would one NOT read 1000 Awesome Things?!

    For me it’s like adding another little bubble to my effervescent half-full glass.

    Here is something else that is awesome: I received The Book of Awesome for Christmas from a friend who had know idea it was on my wish list!

    Happy days to all of you celebrating…

  15. I love this blog! Taking your birthday off is the best. Last year I was at a conference for my birthday, and it was only half a day, so I got to take a half day for my birthday, didn’t have to use vacation for it, and my company paid for my meals and mileage that day – awesome!

    I read this blog because it makes me smile, I love seeing the community that’s developed, it’s a constant reminder to look on the bright side of life, and it’s the only place i’ve seen people consistently call other people out when they insist on being not awesome. Thanks Niel, for all you’ve done, and the community you’ve built!

  16. I read this and bought the book because it provides me with a “stop and think about something good once a day”. It provides me with a smile and if I happen to get the email when I am around others – I always share it for the laugh and sense of well being it creates. It usually is also a great conversation starter of thinking about the little things that we so often take for granted. I am usually far too serious around others and this is one of my secret silly things that I love to do and surprize people with a new layer of my personality.

    I also read this because I am believe in supporting a fellow Canadian from his home town.

  17. I work for a convention center and we have what is called a “birthday floater.” You can take that day on your birthday (and they like you to) but if you don’t want to you can save it up for anytime (it floats around in payroll til you use it). It’s great!

    I read 1000 Awesome Things because sometimes it makes me tear up and sometimes it makes me laugh aloud.

  18. I read 1000 Awesome Things because it gives me something to smile about every day. It helps me enjoy the little things in life. I love Neil’s writing style and the pictures that come with each post. Thanks for giving me something to look forward too every day.

  19. I started reading 1000 Awesome Things when it was mentioned in an article about things to brighten your day, or something like that. I kept reading because your writing is great, and you have never failed to make me smile. Most of all, there have been several times that 1000 Awesome Things made me feel like maybe things weren’t so hopeless after all.

  20. I’m reading 1000 awesome things since I’ve seen your awesome (haha) TED-Talk (which leads to another awesome thing: getting smarter because someone shares his knowledge on the internet!).

    The reason I’m reading your blog: Feeling happy after every post I read and learning to appreciate these small things in life :)

    While writing this I noticed another awesome thing: Finding out that the new album from your favorite band totally rocks and you can’t stop listening to it! It’s Boombox from the Beatsteaks right now ;)

  21. I came across your talk on the TED website a few days ago and can completely relate to the ‘inner 3 year old’ in part as my son has recently turned 3. I still find it amazing and refreshing how he sees the world and how he is seeing everying for the first time… On a number of occassions this has put things in perspective for me.
    Its not always easy, but its the simple things, just like when you and I were 3 years old that can make our lives great. My son has taught me to live in the moment, how a smile makes others feel and to be grateful. :)

  22. Love this post! I ALWAYS take the day off on my birthday!! It should definitely be a rule that everyone follows. Your birthday is YOUR day to do something special for yourself…or to sleep all day if that’s what you want, LOL. My b’day is on the 31st and I’m taking 3 days off this year…yes, 3! Looking forward to it :)
    Neil, this site is awesome. I feel like you put a lot of yourself out here for all of us to read and I think that’s what everyone can relate to…your authenticity. That’s why I read 1000 awesome things :) …oh and it’s hilarious too, LOL

  23. I read 1000 Awesome Things because it is, well….AWESOME! All those funny moments and quirky things you always laugh at and love can be shared in a blog with everyone, its cool. They’re those moments you laugh at with your sister or a friend or even your parents and cousins. And having someone dedicate a webpage to those special little moments of silliness is just fun! Its like saying ‘hey I remember that special little moment, do you guys?’ Thanks for the continuous awesome!!

  24. I discovered this after reading an article in the Reader’s Digest this month. It inspired me so much that I’ve started writing about Awesome things in the life of a teacher. I find it keeps me grounded and everyday I look out for all that is AWESOME. What a wonderful way to go through each day! I think this blog is warm, witty, whimsical and it reminds me that life is Awesome when we remember to treasure the little things. I’m new here, so Helooo to this AWESOME community! :)

  25. I started reading 1000awesomethings because I found the book at Indigo and it instantly struck me as an amazing idea. I kept reading because this blog makes my life brighter. It makes me smile and laugh, sometimes it makes me cry, and it inspires me to look around me and appreciate the little things in life that make every day a good day.

  26. I just found about this site on Facebook by a friend from IBM. I say your video on 3 A’s. I love myself to talk about Attitude, that’s all. And now I read some of your blogg. I guess I’ll continue for a while. Take care. Eva, Stockholm, Sweden

  27. im reading your blog for studying english
    it’s really awesome !!!!!
    if you dont mind copying your posting to my blog for studying english
    can i keep doing that ?

  28. i got a day off on my birth day, the first in 5 years, and i went to do the writing test for my driver license, nailed at the first try, i never got time to go back and do the driving test until the year later, again on my birth day, had the appionment and got the licence that day, yes, that was awesome!

  29. This made me smile cause it was posted coincidently on my birthday :) I’m 22 year-old senior in college and have a part-time job. I don’t care if Im turning 45, I will always take that day off for myself! Even if no one else celebrates your day, you should always celebrate you!

  30. While I understand the excitement for most people to get the day off work on your birthday it doesn’t hold the same appeal for me, so I am actually going to go the opposite of this one. My birthday is toward the end of August. So I never got to celebrate my birthday in school, though some teachers actually followed through with their plans for fairness with half-birthdays or celbrating in September or June. And to top it all off I would have loved to celebrate my birthday at summer camp but the camp always hosted a grief camp for kids who lost loved ones over my birthday week and I never needed to go to that camp (which is a good thing, I know). A couple years ago I finally got on staff and got to work at the grief camp and thus celebrate my birthday at camp and it was AWESOME!

  31. Hey Neil,

    I read your blog to remind me of things to look for everyday. seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years go by so quickly its hard to stop and smell the grass. reading your blog reminds me of all the good things in the world rather then the bad. Thanks.

    Yours Truly,


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