How to Take Stock of Your Life on Your Birthday and Make Better Decisions

Take 86-year-old Sophia Loren’s advice on birthdays

J.R. Flaherty
Nov 25, 2020 · 5 min read

You know when your time has come to move out from a share house. On the way home from work, I dropped into the local Italian restaurant. I did not want to go home. It was my birthday.

It was not a significant birthday. Nothing ending in five or zero. My flatmates wanted to have a party. I protested. For them, the lady doth protest too much. They threatened a big cake. I made some excuses, such as I did not want lots of people in the house, and it was a Monday. They thought Monday was The. Best. Day. To. Party.

At this stage of my life, I felt more like David Bowie in his song, Modern Love: I know when to go out. And when to stay in. Get things done.

I’d rather sit in the restaurant by myself and order from the full menu. So that’s what I did. Table for one, please. I needed time alone. I had an apero, a full three-course meal, one glass of Prosecco to start, and a few glasses of Sicilian red wine. A little chitchat to the waiter. I sent for the check at the end and added an adult-worthy tip.

Between courses, I wrote a list on the back of an old receipt. What had happened over the year? One thing was clear. The time had come to move out.

Looking back, after I made that decision, everything in my life began to move in the right direction. Nothing was the same again.

I like birthdays, but I’m not too fond of birthday cards. You know those cards you find under “Humor” in the Post Office. Instead of Hallmark schlock, there is a quote from Sophia Loren I like to pull out every year. I wrote it down from an interview I found on youtube from the 1980s. She sums up the right way to do birthdays.

‘Actually, I rather like birthdays. It is a good reason to talk to yourself, ask yourself what you have been doing, what you are doing, and what you will do. Girls who can’t go off and talk to themselves stay girls and never become women. Women who can’t take stock turn to drink, take pills, or worse, but I can take stock. I can send for the bill of life and add it up too. If I ever feel depressed, I consider what I have done and what I have accomplished — starting from nothing and arriving now with so much happiness.” — Sophia Loren.

Now here is a woman. Someone who began life in absolute poverty in Naples. She worked her way to 20th-century film icon status. Where do you even begin with eight decades of achievement? Her latest film is “The Life Ahead”, and there are rumors it is up for Oscar. At 86 years old, she still commands the screen. She tells a reporter, “If I like acting, why should I stop?”

What can we learn from this condensed piece of wisdom about birthdays and taking stock of your life?

Here are three lessons from Sophia Loren’s birthday quote.

Take a Personal Stocktake

Women who can’t take stock turn to drink, take pills, or worse, but I can take stock.

If you have ever worked in retail or restaurants, you will know the horror of stocktake time. It is when every single thing on the inventory is added up and taken into account. Everything. From the number of plastic bags to every piece of packaging material.

When finished, it can lead to uncomfortable questions. What did you have stolen? What has gone missing? Why is this still sitting here?

I have a great mental image of Sophia Loren at stocktake time. Flying about from item to item in the warehouse with stylishly messy hair and high heels. Here are some questions you could ask to have your own personal stocktake.

  • What has been selling like hotcakes in your life?
  • What is not selling and gathering dust in the (metaphorical) cupboard?
  • What did you have stolen? (Hearts, energy, lovers)

Check, please!

I can send for the bill of life and add it up too.

Imagine the restaurant’s host appearing with a check to Sophia Loren’s table. She puts on her reading glasses and runs down the items on the receipt with her manicured finger. She may question one or two things. Then, charmingly, hand over her hard metal card with unlimited credit.

Have you checked your own bill of life lately? Make sure it adds up. And not just in financial terms.

  • Is there anything where I have overspent?
  • What have I spent too much on, emotionally or financially?
  • Did we enjoy ourselves on our night’s out? On our birthday?

Gratitude

If I ever feel depressed, I consider what I have done and what I have accomplished — starting from nothing and arriving now with so much happiness.

Even if you don’t like parties, even if you don’t like getting older, think. Some people, even friends or family, sadly may not have made it to their own birthday this year. If you can’t face your own birthday, then why not donate a birthday for them in the form of remembrance?

Sophia Loren’s quote’s final line is a down-to-earth statement from someone who has faced life and won. When you can reconcile your life, and live to a decent age, every year can be “arriving now with so much happiness.” This is gratitude.

Conclusion

Sometimes we all forget who we are and what is essential. It seems easier to get lost in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Why not make every birthday an opportunity to ‘take stock’ of your life? A little self-assessment can go a long way, but we need to take the time to do it.

Instead of just accepting the next invitation from a well-meaning friend (that you don’t want to decline, either), consider taking a moment to think about what you would like to do on your next birthday. Although you don’t have to take life too seriously. Remember, Sophia Loren’s other famous quote: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”

Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Read short and uplifting articles here to help you shift…

J.R. Flaherty

Written by

Writes non-fiction, writes to live. Unequivocal on: Essentialism, Creativity, Travel, Balance & Imperfection. Better Marketing. Startup. CYMCYL @FlahertyWrites

Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Read short and uplifting articles here to help you shift your thought, so you can see real change in your life and health.

J.R. Flaherty

Written by

Writes non-fiction, writes to live. Unequivocal on: Essentialism, Creativity, Travel, Balance & Imperfection. Better Marketing. Startup. CYMCYL @FlahertyWrites

Change Your Mind Change Your Life

Read short and uplifting articles here to help you shift your thought, so you can see real change in your life and health.

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