40 Thoughts You Never Had Before Turning 40

Twenty-one-year-old you would be gravely disappointed.

When people talk about how life changes after you reach 40, they tend to focus on the physical. They'll warn you about the aches and pains, the way your body doesn't cooperate quite as easily as it did during your younger days, and the horrors of discovering hair growing in all the wrong places.

But people rarely talk about the changes that happen in your head. At 40, you start having thoughts that never occurred to you before, stuff that would've sounded like crazy talk just a decade ago. The internal monologue that'd make a 20-year-old tremble in fear and scream, "I'm hearing demon voices in my head" is just business as usual for a 40-year-old. Need proof? Just take a look at these lines of thinking, all of which likely cross your mind on the reg—and never did in decades passed. And for more hilarious insight into the constant game of aging, see the 40 Facts That Will Make You Totally Psyched to Turn 40.

"Music isn't as cool as it used to be."


You know in your heart this probably isn't true, but it's easier to dismiss everything than admit we've reached an age where modern music sounds like a bunch of tuneless noise to our ears.

"I mowed the lawn and briefly got out of pajamas this weekend. Yep, mission accomplished."


If that's all you require from a weekend, and the idea of doing anything else just sounds way too exhausting, then congratulations, you have officially become middle-aged.

"You know what's weird? I don't think I've done anything profoundly stupid or embarrassing in at least the last five years."

wakeboard fail blooper

Congratulations, you've finally reached an age where you rarely, if ever, wake up the next morning and think, "Uh, what did I do last night?"

"I think maybe my parents really do know what they're talking about."

dad and son fishing

It takes a certain level of maturity to accept that dear ole Mom and Dad aren't so wrong about everything in the world after all. And for more wizened wisdom from pop, don't miss The 30 Most Useful Lessons We Learned From Our Dads.

"Sure, I've got some grey in my hair. Who cares?"

50 compliments

What a sweet relief to stop caring so much about the things that don't really matter. And if you want to deploy your mane to turn back the clock, learn the 15 Best Haircuts for Looking Instantly Younger.

"Okay, I'm kidding. I'm freaking out about my hair! Do I look old? I feel like I look old. You'd tell me the truth, wouldn't you?!"

40 things only women over 40

Hey, nobody said that growing older wasn't going to be a bumpy ride. It's okay to succumb to a little age anxiety now and then. And for more tips on turning back the clock, see the 50 Best Anti-Aging Tips for Men.

"Wait, my phone can do what?"


There comes a time in every person's life when they realize that technology has officially gotten too far ahead of them. It stops being "This is so cool" and turns into "I'm so confused, can somebody please explain this to me?" For instance: These 20 Things You Didn't Know Your Smartphone Could Do.

"There's no way she's twenty. She looks like she's six."

baby sitting in car, looking chill.

It's not just her. Everybody under 30 now seems young enough to be in elementary school. Don't bother fighting it, it's just your skewed perspective now.

"I don't know a single artist in the Top 40, and I'm okay with that."

father and son listen to music together

You don't have to pretend anymore to know or care who's making the hit records you're not listening to anyway. Your days of having to say "Oh, yeah, I love that song" are officially over.

"Forty is the new twenty."

liberated and free woman Being Single in your thirties

It's really not, but if it makes you feel better, by all means continue believing that.

"Is it time to schedule my next colonoscopy?"

Woman with Doctor

Ah, you've finally reached that magical time in a person's life where having invasive investigations becomes a regular part of your medical routine.

"I don't have the time or energy to be self-conscious anymore."

comfy, baggy

And unlike the 20-year-old who's pretending not to care what everybody (literally everybody) thinks, you actually mean it.

"Did you turn out the lights in the kitchen? We should go back and make sure the lights are out in the kitchen."


What is it about people over 40 that they can't stop worrying about whether every light bulb in their house is costing them precious cents in unnecessary electricity bills?

"I remember where I was when this episode of Seinfeld first aired."

Seinfeld Soup Nazi Funniest Sitcom Jokes

Seinfeld is to people in their 40s what the moon landing was to Boomers. You don't just remember every line in the "Soup Nazi" episode, you remember what you were wearing when you saw it and what you had for dinner that night. (Not soup, we bet.)

"If I'm carded buying liquor, it's going to make my week."

Woman Shopping at Liquor Store

The crazy part is, you're not even kidding.

"A decade isn't really that long."

amazon alexa questions

When you were a kid, summer used to feel like it lasted an eternity. In your 20s, a year might as well have been a lifetime. But at your age, time has a way of moving annoyingly fast. In the blink of an eye, you're 50 and you're like, "Wait, whoa, whoa, did I not turn 40 just a second ago?"

"Jennifer Lopez is almost 50 and Lil Wayne is in his 30s. You tell me who looks better!"

Lil Wayne

We could explain the difference between exercising all day, every day, and doing whatever it is that Lil Wayne does with his free time, but the logic would be lost on a 40 year old who just doesn't want to grow old.

"Let's not discuss politics. Please."

never say at work

If only we realized sooner than beginning any conversation with "So who are you voting for?" is just going to end badly for everyone.

"Youth is wasted on the young."

Procrastination, productivity

It's a cliche, but it's also kinda true. For the first time in your life, you realize just how true.

"I should feel more like a grown-up, but I really don't."

Tired Business Man

You spend the first four decades of your life working towards being the kind of adult who looks and acts like he knows what he's doing. But as you get older, nothing gets easier, and you still feel like a kid masquerading as a grown-up. You're seriously in charge of stuff now? How the heck did that happen?

"I could eat that, but there are going to be some seriously unpleasant consequences tomorrow."

Things You Believed That Aren't True

You're finally able to look at something delicious and recognize that long after the flavors have left your mouth, your intestines are going to be saying, "Seriously, dude? Okay, whatever, let's get ready to rumbbbbbbbble!" And for more ways to maximize your diet, check out the 40 Heart Foods To Eat After 40.

"The concert is going to start at 11pm? Um, yeah, I'm going to pass."

sleeping too much could kill you

And you know what? It's not going to be the missed concert that haunts you for the rest of your life. Sometimes waking up without looking like you spent the night in a bus terminal is life's greatest reward.

"I play that Charlie Brown Christmas record all the time. Even when it's not even remotely near the holidays. Yes, I play it in August. You have a problem with that?"

Christmas tv specials are a bad tradition

We don't know exactly why, but there's something in those beautifully maudlin melodies that feels so right on just about any day of the year. Maybe it's just a middle age thing.

"I saw this thing on Facebook, it was so hilarious!"

social media changes after 40

If a funny meme gets shared on Facebook and there isn't a 40 year old person to "like" it, did it ever really exist?

"Wait, [Name of beloved movie/ TV show/ record] came out thirty years ago? No! I refuse to accept that!

best teen movies alternate movie endings
IMDB/New World Pictures

Finding out that the movie Heathers first came out in 1988 forces you to do some difficult math, which is like being tricked by pop culture into realizing how long its been since you were in high school.

"The Internet scares and confuses me. Is it okay to admit that now?"

man looking shocked at laptop computer

It is, yes. Spending too much time online when you're post-40 is like being the old guy who crashes a college keg party and announces, "Hey, hep-cats, who wants to do some beer bongs with me?"

"My kids are the most amazing human beings that have ever existed. I'm not willing to debate you on this. They are proof that life can be wonderful and the world is worth saving."

kids at a pizza party

Your endless fascination with the tiny creatures you helped create is exactly as it should be. It's perfectly natural to want to overshare photos and videos of them on social media, and rattle on and on about their accomplishments to anybody who'll listen. Knock yourself out.

"Must resist urge to explain to 20-something colleague what a cassette mixtape is, must resist urge to explain to 20-something colleague what a cassette mixtape is, must…

words that reveal age

Just bite your lip and walk away.

"It's not just that I'm glad I wasn't young when social media was a thing. I'm grateful. So very, very, very grateful."

man on phone social media online

People over 40 have the gift of hindsight. We've already made all the mistakes and done all the stupid things that young people (all young people) inevitably do. You never realize what a gift it was to not have any permanent record of your youthful misdeeds until you're old enough to know better. And for more social media secrets, check out the 20 Ways Social Media Stresses Us Out.

"Remember when 30 sounded old? Were we ever so innocent?"

woman brushes teeth

It's adorable how wrong we once were about, well, pretty much everything.

"Should we do nothing today? Yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea."

Life easier

Gone are the days of having FOMO, the fear of missing out. Now you have FOMOOMO, the fear of missing out on missing out. You feel a newfound responsibility to make sure all the couches get relaxed on.

"Do I want a shot? Absolutely not."

alcohol shot

Save the Jäger bombs for the college kids.

"I should probably bring a coat, just in case."

dressing well in your 30s

It could be 90 degrees out, but a 40-plus-year-old will just never feel comfortable leaving the house without at least a light jacket. Why? You never know when there might be a slightly chilly breeze.

"I remember when my parents turned forty, and they seemed sooooo old."

older mom parent and daughter out to eat

The only thing worse than realizing you're turning into your dad or mom is realizing you've reached the same age when they once seemed like the oldest people you'd ever know.

"That bench looks pretty tempting."

couple on a bench by a lake

You could be late for an appointment, but if you pass a bench and your feet or back (or both) are feeling achy (a likelihood), you won't be able to resist taking a quick sit.

"Let's just agree to disagree."

this is a trash person, Worst Dating Phrases

The courage to stop arguing, to resist pushing back against everyone and anyone who doesn't share your point of view, is surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it.

"Let's go early and beat the rush."

Woman driving Being Single in your thirties

This weird desire to avoid a crowd at all costs is a uniquely 40-plus behavior. "Why," one might reasonably ask, "leave the house at all if you don't want to be around other people?" You'll understand when you're 40.

"Cancer is terrible."

prevent breast cancer

By the time you're 40, you probably know at least a few people affected by this terrible disease. You may even be one of them.

"There is no amount of sadness that can't be fixed with red velvet cake."

woman eating cake unhealthy

Life isn't that complicated if you apply just the right amount of desserts.

"I'm sorry."


Admitting when you're wrong isn't unique to people over 40, but it does sometime seem to come easier for them.

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