As we continue to navigate the profound impact of a global pandemic, some are fortunate to rise from the havoc to find peace, a job, health, and their loved ones. For others, hope may even be elusive amidst death of a loved one, loss of a job, stress and anxiety at unsustainable levels, and the yearning for life “as it was”…or at least better than this past year has delivered. Yet, the human spirit is resilient and if we can go into our hearts and feel how we feel, we may be able to allow ourselves to embrace a spark of joy for ourselves and for those around us. My son Josh offers some ways to celebrate life….for his was taken far too soon. And with Josh’s birthday on April 16, I celebrate his life and legacy by sharing his wisdom.

21 Ways to Celebrate Life
A Gift from Joshua Rothstein
-April 16, 1987 – October 7, 2002-

Who better to suggest how to celebrate life than one for whom life is no longer on this earth but whose perspective is eternal. And so it was that Ways to Celebrate Life came to be. My son Josh was struck by a car and killed at age 15 ½ in 2002. My profound grief was tempered by a blessing. Josh began to communicate to me, often through my pen, as he did before his 17th birthday on April 16, 2004. He gave me 17 Ways to Celebrate Life as a gift to share. For his earthly birthdays that followed, he offered an additional “way” to celebrate life. In honor of Josh, I now share 21 Ways to Celebrate Life with you….

  1. Smile. Smiling makes you and those around you feel good. If you don’t feel good, a smile can trick your brain into feeling better.
  2. Eat ice cream.
  3. Run on the beach. If you can’t physically do this, use your imagination.
  4. Call someone who is ill or lonely. Listen to their story. Take the time. Tell them your story, if they ask.
  5. Listen to music that touches your heart and soul.
  6. Sing in the shower, or out loud if you are comfortable.
  7. Visit the grave of a loved one and celebrate your continued BREATH. And tell your loved one what’s on your mind.
  8. Play with a dog.
  9. Thank yourself for putting up with all the things about yourself that drive you nuts! Activate your sense of humor!
  10. Apologize to someone you have wronged in any way.
  11. Take a day, or even a few hours, “off” to do something you always want to do but never take the time to do.
  12. Eat something you never indulge in (unless allergic!) and savor every bite….slowly. No guilt permitted!
  13. Re-watch your favorite funny or happy movie in your most comfortable clothes.
  14. Make plans with 2 friends that you are crazy about but never see…near or far away.
  15. Go outdoors to a natural setting. Sit. Close your eyes. Listen to the world. It’s all an extension of you! Your breath connects you intrinsically to the world.
  16. Laugh. Do something fun or silly that evokes laughter. It has been said that laughter is God’s sunshine.
  17. Place this list in an envelope and revisit it periodically to see how you are celebrating YOURSELF! If you are good to yourself, you can be much better to those around you.
  18. Go to your heart and make all your decisions from there; and all will be well.
  19. Follow the path that matters.
  20. Believe and feel the change you want to see and you will BE the change you envision.
  21. ….Yet you must know that in the end, it is LOVE’s garden you must tend.

An epiphany would come to me soon after sending out Josh’s 21st birthday tribute on April 16, 2008. #21 would be the last “way.” Josh would not communicate a 22nd Way to Celebrate Life for his 22nd birthday. This was clear. With the addition of #21, there was nothing more to say. For we “must know that in the end”…as well as in the beginning and in the middle… “it is love’s garden we must tend.” It is ALL about love. And when we really think and act from love, which ways 1 through 20 help us cultivate, life will be a garden of celebration…..and we will honor Josh and all beings, both those alive and those for whom breath and a heartbeat are no more

I hope Josh’s 21 Ways to Celebrate Life will resonate for you, bringing inspiration and joy. In this Light, I hope to perpetuate ways to celebrate life today, tomorrow and always. The list is now yours to use and to share.

With love from Josh and his Mom, happy celebrating! ♥

© 2021. Nancy H. Rothstein


  • Nancy H. Rothstein, MBA

    As The Sleep Ambassador®, sleep expert Nancy H. Rothstein is on a quest to help people live life fully 24/7. Nancy helps people rise in the MORNING and rise in the MOURNING.

    As The Sleep Ambassador® Nancy inspires a new respect for sleep and its impact on all aspects of work, life and well-being.  Through consulting, public speaking, media engagements, and other venues, she presents strategic solutions selected to empower people to make lasting shifts to optimize their sleep quality and quantity, both for the public and for the corporate world. Nancy consults and lectures to Fortune 500 corporations and other organizations, awakening leadership to the ROI of a good night’s sleep for their workforce and providing sleep education/training initiatives for employees at all levels.   Nancy's LinkedIn Learning Course, Sleep Is Your Superpower, has engaged over 300,000 seeking to improve their sleep. Nancy is the author of My Daddy Snores; published by Scholastic, which has sold over 400,000 copies. Nancy serves or served on the NIH Sleep Disorders Research Advisory Board, the Steering Committee of, the Board of the Foundation for Airway Health, the Advisory Board of the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, the American Sleep Apnea Association, and working with other organizations that foster sleep health.   Not only does Nancy help people rise in the morning, she also helps people rise in the mourning, inspiring  people to embrace life with gratitude and joy amidst its many challenges. With grace and authenticity, Nancy's forthcoming book, "Rising in the Mourning: Ways to Celebrate Life," offers insights and guidance based on her personal experience with the passing of...and reconnection with...her son. Excerpts appear on Thrive Global.     Nancy has a B.A. from The University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.