As Ferris Bueller told us, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” But while Ferris had things pretty well figured out by high school, the fact is that it takes most of us a lot longer to come to this realization.
You might say the sweet spot for enjoying the simple pleasures in life—where you’re wise and experienced enough to understand how good something is, but still young enough to fully enjoy it—is your 40s. You’ve seen a lot by the time you’re this age, had plenty of ups and downs, good days and not-so-good ones. So when something nice comes your way, you appreciate it fully. Here are 40 of these kinds of simple pleasures only people over 40 truly enjoy. And for more ways to make the most of your 40s, be sure to banish the 40 Worst Habits for People Over 40.
Turning Leftovers Into a Masterpiece
It feels pretty great to turn take that unfinished pasta or half a steak you couldn’t finish at the restaurant, add in a few other inspired ingredients, and realize you’ve remixed and resurrected it as a whole new, even more delicious meal. This takes a few years’ experience (and cooking skills) to fully enjoy, but once you do, it’s a great time. And to up your own culinary skills, check out the 40 Dishes Everyone Over 40 Should Master.
Taking Your Time at Restaurants
Sometimes it takes a couple decades before you realize: The Europeans had it right the whole time. By the time you’re in your 40s, you realize that the food is just a small part of the enjoyment of going out for a meal. Taking your time with a pre-dinner cocktail (or two), savoring the apps and entrée, and letting dessert take another hour is all part of the fun. And if you happen to be in a highfalutin place, learn the 25 Things You Should Always Do in Fancy Restaurants.
A Really Good Apple
Apples seem so quaint—the sort of treat kids in Charles Dickens novels enjoyed. But as you get to your 40s, you learn that a fresh, crisp apple is pretty much the best snack that was ever invented. To make the most of your apples, learn The Best Science-Backed Way to Wash an Apple.
Freshly Washed Sheets
The pain of stripping and then making the bed that used to keep you from washing your sheets as often as possible tends to fall away as you get older. You find that you sleep better, feel better, and your brain seems to function better when you’ve got recently laundered sheets on the bed. And to learn more about yourself, check out the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.
All the Non-Happy Hours
When you’re younger, happy hour is sometimes the only time you can afford to drink, as you cram into the bar with all the other budget-conscious imbibers. But as you get into your 40s, saving money is far less important than actually enjoying yourself and you start to understand that rolling in after the prices go back to normal is often the way to go. To truly experience the best bars America has to offer, go visit one of The 20 Greatest Hotel Bars in America Right Now.
A wet bar is great, but once you’ve started using decanters to put your spirits in, it’s hard to ever pour liquor straight from the bottle anymore. Even if the liquid itself is just middle-shelf stuff, the right decanter will, at the very least, make you feel classy. And for more ways to enjoy life, here are the 50 Genius Tricks to Improve Your Life.
Rediscovering an item of clothing that you’d forgotten about is almost better than having an all new item to try on. That shirt you stuffed in the back of the closet or put into storage last season and didn’t remember you had—and still fits great—is a deeply satisfying thing to put on. For more sage sartorial advice, learn the 40 Rules For Dressing Well In Your 40s.
Canceling Unused Subscriptions
Whether it’s that you haven’t opened that magazine for the last three months or found a better deal on the storage service you’ve been paying for over the years, it feels great to cancel an ongoing subscription that you don’t really need anymore. And for more great money tips, here are 40 Ways to Save 40 Percent of Your Paycheck.
Having That Extra Drink
You’ve been catching up with friends and know you should head home if you want to get up on time tomorrow, but you can’t help but feel great when one of your friends says “let’s just do one more drink.” Hey, why not? And for some stellar cocktail advice, here’s The Single Greatest Way to Make a Martini.
Realizing Your High School Fashion Is Making a Comeback
Nothing is new when it comes to fashion, and for those in their 40s, that means that you get the pleasure of seeing everyone adopting the weird style quirks that were big when you grew up and making it cool again. Suddenly those high-school yearbook photos are a little less embarrassing than they’d been a few months before.
Returning a Rental Car in Perfect Condition
No scratches, a full tank, and every scrap of trash cleaned up from inside the car. It’s weird how satisfying that feels to hand back the keys to a rental car knowing it’s in perfect condition thanks to your careful driving and conscientiousness. And for places to take that car, pay a visit to the 40 Roads Everyone Should Drive by Age 40.
Turning a Night in Into a Party
When you’re younger, it’s hard not to worry about what other people are doing, even when it’s raining out or you aren’t in the mood for going out. But with a bottle of wine (or two), the right soundtrack, and a little conversation, you can transform an otherwise mundane night into a memorable one. And if you’re throwing a dinner party, check out these 20 Genius Tricks for Throwing a Perfect One.
Staying in Bed When its Stormy
Staying in at night when it’s terrible out can only be bested by staying in during the morning when it’s terrible out. Waking up to rain on the window, while knowing you don’t have to leave your warm bed, is a rare pleasure you can’t fully appreciate until you’ve experienced a good number of soggy morning commutes.
A Front Porch
There’s a reason old dudes like to hang out on their front porch for hours—it’s chill, a fun place to people watch, and on a nice day one of the best places to be. Sometimes it’s great just to kick back and watch the world go by. If that sounds like you, then you’ll definitely love the 50 Dad Jokes So Bad They’re Actually Hilarious.
Giving a room a new coat of paint, whether just freshening it up or giving it a whole new look, is one of the most satisfying things you can do for the cost of a paint can.
Sealing up gaps or seams in your home is insanely satisfying. In fact, it’s one of the 20 Home Maintenance Tips Everyone Should Know.
Realizing You Need Sunglasses
Especially in the dark days of winter and early spring, you get so used to dreariness outside that when you leave your place to realize the sun is not only out, but so bright you need sunglasses, you don’t even mind having to run back inside to get them.
Having a Great First Aid Kit
Cutting your finger or stubbing your toe is no fun. But you can significantly dull the pain of an injury by having a great, thorough first-aid kit on hand. Popping open your kit and seeing that you have exactly what you (or a loved one) needs to help care for themselves is a great feeling it can take years before you fully appreciate.
A Great Packing Job
When you realize at the end of a week of travels that you packed exactly what you needed—the extra sweater for that night it got chilly, the shorts for the sunny day walking around the city, and the blazer when you wanted to dress things up a bit. It’s a great feeling knowing you packed just right. If you’ve never felt this amazing feeling, know that here’s The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase.
Realizing You’re Not Sick Anymore
After this brutal flu season, when you’ve been sniffling for days and sometimes weeks, it’s a pretty great feeling when you realize you haven’t coughed or blown your nose all day.
Giving Random Compliments
We realize pretty quickly how nice it is to receive compliments, whether from close friends or random strangers. But for many it takes until we’re in our 40s before we notice that it’s even more satisfying to give compliments. Brightening someone else’s day by giving them props for a great shirt or how they handled a situation lends up being a bigger pleasure to the person doing the complimenting than the person receiving. Need some niceness inspiration? Here are the 40 Best Compliments to Give People Over 40.
Being Prepared for Snow
Going outside in brutal conditions is not much of a delight for anyone, but it can be surprisingly satisfying when you head out all layered up and ready to handle the elements, with full snow boots, down jacket and warm scarf. Walking through the arctic temperatures while feeling toasty and dry, you might as well be a superhero.
Sure, it doesn’t have that rich, full-bodied flavor of the $6 cups of coffee at the fancy hipster coffee place, but a warm cup of diner coffee, especially over a pleasantly overfilling breakfast, is worth savoring.
In this era of text messaging and social media, we’ve lost a classic form of communication: the overlong voicemail. While most people who actually leave a message keep it at a brief “call me back,” or send full details over email, there are still some out there who will give you a full update of what’s happening in their life on your voicemail. It should be saved and cherished as a dying way of connecting.
Having plants around not only makes your place look better—it has been found to improve your happiness, and it’s also something that it takes a few decades to fully appreciate.
Walking Instead of Driving
Sometimes you end up with extra time on a particularly nice day and instead of taking the subway home or driving, you opt to walk to the restaurant where you’re meeting friends. It might be difficult to do every day, but is great when you can swing it.
Having Lunch in the Park
Speaking of enjoying the outdoors, skipping the sad desk salad and heading to the park to enjoy your lunch is one of the best ways to improve your day, and something many people don’t fully appreciate until they get a big older.
Letting a Pro Trim Your Beard
Sure, you have a beard trimmer at home that works just fine, but the enjoyment you get from visiting a barber and getting a true pro to get you looking good is a joy. It’s the little things that count: the expert line under your chin, the subtle trim on your cheeks, and it’s hard to appreciate until you’ve experienced enough out-of-place hairs and off-balance beards to make you realize that a good trim is harder than it looks.
There are few things that you appreciate more as you enter your 40s then the friends who are there when you need them.
“When you’re younger and around people all the time, making and retaining friends is easy, so it’s easy to not appreciate them,” says David Bennett, a certified counselor, relationship expert, and cofounder of lifestyle website The Popular Man. “In your 40s, your friends mean a lot more, since meeting and keeping friends is more challenging in your 40s, since many people are busy working and making married and family life work.”
Enjoying the Finer Beverages
“Fortysomethings are earning more and have more disposable income, so you can finally come to know what a good coffee, beer, or wine tastes like, and quit drinking the cheap stuff just because it’s cheap,” explains Bennett.
When the Thing Stuck Between Your Teeth Gets Out
Is there a better feeling than when that infuriating string of muscle from a steak finally comes unstuck from your teeth? It’s hard to think of something that is.
Younger people have no clue how amazing garlic is. Even the ones who are fans of it are probably not using enough of it. Once you’re in your 40s you’ve learned that you can put it in almost everything and you won’t be disappointed.
You realize that a lot of pyrotechnics in the kitchen often don’t amount to all that much. The really impressive and memorable meals are those you make with just a few ingredients but do just right.
A Mid-Price Wine
Your appreciation for wine might go something like this: You buy the cheap stuff in your 20s, then the pricey stuff in your 30s once you can start affording it, then by your 40s you realize the expensive stuff is often over rated. There are plenty of great options at $20 a bottle.
Beyond protecting your computer from spilled coffee, a cheap cover over your keyboard also offers a more appealing solution: it keeps it pristine. It’s an amazing feeling to remove the cover and see keys underneath that look like they’ve never been touched by oily fingers, dust, or crumbs.
A Side Glass of Water
Whether with coffee, beer, or cocktails, ordering a bonus glass of water boasts many benefits, from keeping you hydrated to fending off a hangover. It takes some a few decades to fully internalize it, but an extra glass of water is a beautiful thing.
A Newly Sewn Button
You may not be the handiest person when it comes to clothing maintenance, but you can at least sew back on a button—and have come to appreciate how nice it is to have a newly reattached one on your jacket or shirt.
Wiping Down the Equipment at the Gym
This should be standard protocol for anyone using exercise equipment at the gym, but it’s surprising how many people just leave their sweaty equipment for the next person to deal with. But as you get older, not only are you courteous enough to clean after yourself, you realize that it’s satisfying in itself—like making your bed, it turns the page on that part of your day and gets you ready for what’s next.
Putting on Sunscreen
You’ve been told since you were a kid that you need to wear sunscreen, but it may take until you’re in your 40s to appreciate just how awesome it is that by putting on this simple substance, you’re protecting yourself from skin cancer, aging, and plenty of other nasty things.
Old People’s Stories
Most of your youth you find the stories and advice of those older than you, especially those a lot older than you, to be pretty hard to care about. You don’t see the relevance to your own life. But by the time you’re in your 40s, you start to deeply appreciate the wisdom of your elders and the lessons you can learn from listening to them—right about the time that you start boring those younger than you with your “back in the day” tales. And for more sage wisdom, learn the 100 Best Anti-Aging Secrets.
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