On Friday I turned 40. I was touched by the kindness of family and friends in helping me make big deal of it – which got me wondering why 40 can have such a negative connotation. After all, turning 40 simply means the earth has orbited the sun 14,570 times since I was born.
But I guess 40 is traditionally middle aged. That’s an association I choose to shrug off as long as I have glitter in my body lotion and Abba on my iPod.
If you’d like to join me in this quest, here’s my list of 40 things to do (or keep doing) to make your 40s fabulous rather than frumpy…
1. Take up weight training. You’ll sleep better, feel better, look better and be stronger. (I like Body Pump – good music and fun workouts.)
2. Smile at strangers.
3. Read books that make you happy.
4. Watch movies that make you happy.
5. Listen to music that makes you happy.
6. Join Facebook and feel connected.
7. Eat cupcakes.
8. Have a girls’ or boys’ night out.
9. Get an iPod and listen to music you love while doing chores.
10. (For the girls) Throw out all your make up and buy just a few, fabulous things that make you look great.
11. Give to charity every thing in your wardrobe that’s ill-fitting, out of date, or doesn’t suit you. Buy just a few fabulous items that make you feel good.
12. Dance in the car whenever you hear a cool song on the radio. It will put you in a happy mood for wherever you’re going.
13. Forgive every grudge. Even if that person is an undeserving crapwad, do it for you.
14. Do something for your mind every day – a crossword, sudoku, brain-teaser, or whatever you find fun and stimulating.
15. Spend time with genuine friends – people you can have challenging, encouraging and sincere conversations with.
16. Avoid the superficial – it creates a sense of time running out.
17. Don’t multi-task; where possible, do fewer things.
18. Cancel subscriptions to papers and magazines you don’t love to read.
19. Record TV shows or buy the DVDs so you never have to watch whatever’s on.
20. Approach comedies expecting to laugh – you’ll be more likely to.
21. Watch comedies. (I like Friends, Buffy, Arrested Development, The Office (US).)
22. Give to charity anything in your house that hasn’t been used in the past 12 months. Some things you’ll end up needing to buy again. But the lightness you’ll feel will hugely outweigh this small inconvenience.
23. Accept compliments with a warm ‘Thank you!’.
24. Give compliments whenever you notice something you like in someone.
25. As you lie in bed each night, think of three things you’re grateful for.
26. As you wake each morning, stretch every part of your body. Let the pleasure of it make you squeal.
27. Listen to podcasts. There are so many good ones to expand your horizons. (I like Science & the City, New Scientist, SxSW, TED.)
28. Do daggy dancing – with your spouse, your friends, your kids. Crank up the stereo, turn out the lights and have yourself a disco ball. The moves don’t matter, as long as you’re having fun.
29. Take up a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Sailing, drawing, calligraphy, ballroom dancing, Thai cooking – whatever your interest, there’s a class or a club just waiting for you. Take the time from TV-watching, going out for ‘drinks’ or boring dinner parties.
30. Tune in to your facial expressions. Does your ‘at rest’ face look grumpy? Change it to something that looks and feels good.
31. Swap anti-aging paranoia for great skincare, flattering outfits and attractive facial expressions.
32. Do a random act of kindness every day.
33. Expect more of yourself and less of everyone else.
34. Talk to yourself as though you’re a loving, wise and encouraging parent talking to a sweet child.
35. Make a new friend – at your gym, coffee shop, library or office.
36. Do a 24-hour negativity detox. Say nothing negative to yourself or anyone else, just for a day. It’s pretty much impossible, but it will open your eyes.
37. Set an hourly reminder on your watch or computer and check your posture. Imagine a string through the centre of your body and out of the top of your head. Pull it up – tightening your abs, lowering your shoulders, lifting your chin, head and eyes.
38. Buy something beautiful for your home. It can be as large as a piece of art or as small as a candle.
39. Find something encouraging in every conversation you have with others or yourself.
40. Remember that life is short. Don’t wait to be happy. Choose to be happy now.