50 Best Simple Pleasures That Make Life Worth Living

From warm laundry to the smell of cookies, sometimes it really is the little things that make life beautiful!

Clean sheets

bedsheetsFreedom Studio/ShutterstockNothing says pure bliss like getting out of a warm bath and slipping into crisp, clean sheets. As you tuck a pillow behind your head and inhale the fresh scent, it's easy to imagine all is right in the world—and it is, for this one precious moment. Don't forget these 10 tricks to make your bed even cozier!

The smell of asphalt in the summer rain

asphaltGeorgii Shipin/ShutterstockGames of tag, getting called to dinner, staying up late catching fireflies, and neighborhood adventures: The smell of a street after a summer rain calls back memories of childhood so poignant, it'll take your breath away.

The scent of a baby's head

babywavebreakmedia/ShutterstockInfant's heads are imbued with an aroma unlike any other. The soft, sweet smell manages to convey safety, comfort, and hope all in one fleeting breath. Okay, and possibly a whiff of baby throw-up—but even that is reassuring in its own way. Don't have a baby handy? Try one of these 8 smells shown to make people happy.

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An empty sink

kitchensinkbestray/ShutterstockA sink completely cleared of dishes signals the end of the work day and the beginning of relaxation time. With the gently humming dishwasher in the background you can read or watch your favorite show in peace, knowing that there will be clean bowls and spoons in the morning. (Because nothing ruins a perfectly good morning like a sink of last night's dishes.)

Your favorite song

musiclisteningRock and Wasp/ShutterstockIt doesn't have to be popular, catchy, or even from this era, but we all have a favorite tune we love so much we'll never skip it on the playlist. But you don't have to wait for your song to waltz in your life; find it online and play it now. Sing aloud and enjoy every note. Psst... Here's what your favorite music says about you!

Dancing with a child

childdancingCroMary/ShutterstockKids are many things but one thing they're not is self-conscious. An adult on a dance floor will wiggle uncomfortably or look for the bar. A child, on the other hand, will take full advantage of the empty space and will twirl, cartwheel, and jump (sort-of) in time to the music. Instead of making boring conversation, trying joining one of your favorite kids in a dance-off.

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A shared joke

laughingUber Images/ShutterstockJokes, by definition, are supposed to be funny. But the funniest jokes of all are the ones you share with your oldest friends. "Remember that time... and the gorilla suit... Danny... then the cops?" might not sound like much to everyone else but with the people who know the story you won't be able to breathe for laughing so hard. Take every occasion you can to remember the good times. Or do one of these 24 little ways to be a good friend.

A text from your loved one

textingImYanis/ShutterstockIn years past you used to have to wait for days, weeks, or even months to hear from a loved one. Now we have a way to instantaneously reach anyone at anytime and yet it seems like even though we're communicating more, we're sharing less. Use technology to your advantage to text a simple love note and hopefully get one (quickly!) in return.

New socks

socksEsmeralda Edenberg/ShutterstockSocks—straight out of the package, unmarred by dirt or pet hair or toenail fungus, the cotton still creased and crisp—are like little hugs for your feet. Have old socks laying around? Here are 88 things you can do with a single sock.

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Doggy kisses

doggykissesMaksim Ladouski/ShutterstockDogs are the best part of coming home at the end of a long day. After all, who else gets so excited to see you that they wag their bottom, lick your face, and sometimes even pee a little on the floor? No one, that's who. Enjoy your pet's unconditional and pure affection.

A crossed-off to-do list

todolistAlex James Bramwell/ShutterstockIs there anything more satisfying that checking off a tough task off your to-do list? Only checking off all the tasks on your to-do list! Picture it now—the sound of the pencil drawing the line firmly, the crinkle of the worn paper—and get back to work. For a little inspiration here are 32 secrets from people who've crossed major items off their bucket lists.

A clean desk

deskPhotographee.eu/ShutterstockIt's hard to think in a messy room and having a cluttered desk can hamper your ability to get anything productive done. So make a clean sweep, throwing out old ideas as well as old papers, and start with a clean slate.

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Dark chocolate

darkchocolateiravgustin/ShutterstockThere's something magical about chocolate. The way it melts on your tongue, coats your mouth, and satisfies your tastebuds like no other food. Plus a little every day is actually good for you, so you can indulge guilt-free. (Even cardiologists swear by a little chocolate every day!)

A spring breeze through an open window

openingwindowquadshock/ShutterstockAfter a long closed-in winter, simply opening a window feels like an act of rebellion. Begone musty sweaters and space heaters! Welcome fresh air with the promise of flowers, picnics, and beaches lingering in the breeze!

The smell of fresh-cut grass

lawnmowerBrian A Jackson/ShutterstockMowing the lawn isn't fun but the smell of a recently cut lawn sure is. Best part? You don't have to actually do the former to enjoy the latter, especially if you have conscientious neighbors nearby! Want to do it yourself? Here are 7 tips to mow like a pro.

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Picking a flower

pickingflowersAstroStar/ShutterstockYou can buy a flower at a store and it's a beautiful, fragrant reminder of spring. Or you can pick a flower (preferably from your own yard) and appreciate even more how something so tiny can burst through dirt and create something so beautiful and perfect you can hold it in your hand.

Sharing a smile with a stranger

smilingAntonio Guillem/ShutterstockStanding in line at the store. Waiting for an appointment. Listening to a boring meeting. Walking home. Nothing livens up a boring, mundane task like sharing a knowing smile with someone else. You don't even have to say a word, the smile says it all. Don't stop there: Here are 24 random acts of kindness you can do today.

A warm drink on a cold day

warmdrinkYAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV/ShutterstockThere's just something about being warm and cozy inside while the weather is chilly and unforgiving outside. So snuggle up with your favorite tea or hot cocoa and enjoy watching the wind blow from the safety of your cocoon.

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Popsicles

popsicleswavebreakmedia/ShutterstockFrozen treats on a stick are beloved by children but they're not just for children. They're cooling, tasty, and have instant portion control. If you're lucky they'll even turn your tongue funny colors. While you're at it, here are 20 things you're never too old for.

An Internet outage

laptopRido/ShutterstockWhat might seem like a curse at first may be one of your biggest blessings. When the Internet is down you can't use your phone, TV, or computer. But! That also means you've gotten a reprieve from work emails, Facebook "friends," ads for things you can't afford, and videos you can't help but watch and then wish you could have those minutes back. Enjoy the peace, the electricity will be back on soon enough. (Or feel free to turn off your wireless router and claim your own quiet time!)

Re-reading a favorite book from childhood

readingbookIzdebska Karolina/ShutterstockIn the great green room there was a telephone. And a red balloon. And a picture of the cow jumping over the moon. We're sure you can finish the rest from memory—and with good reason, some children's books are classics for adults too. When is the last time you read The Chronicles of Narnia or The Velveteen Rabbit? You'll love it just as much now as you did then. Need ideas? Start with these 15 best children's books to read as adults.

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Jumping for joy

jumpingBalaguta Evgeniya/ShutterstockYou don't have to buy a Toyota, get a promotion, win the lottery, or do any other TV-approved thing to have a reason to jump for joy. Simply being alive is an excellent reason to give a little hop, click your heels together, and maybe even give a little whoop. Not feeling joyful? This is one of those things that faking it may actually help you feel it for real.

A pink sunrise

pinkskyturtix/ShutterstockWhen was the last time you really watched the sunrise? No, we don't mean when was the last time you were awake at dawn, hurrying through your morning routine so you wouldn't be late. We mean sitting down and watching the sun peek over the horizon, changing the sky to bright shades of orange, pink, red, and purple? It will make you remember what a great world we live in. To help you get started, here are 9 tricks to help become a morning person.

Cloud shapes

layingongrassAH86/ShutterstockLaying on your back watching the clouds go by is a game for kids or unemployed people, right? Perhaps not. There's something meditative and relaxing about watching the clouds in the sky and looking for shapes. (But no bunnies; everyone sees bunnies and you can do better than that!)

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A brisk walk

walkingDennis van de Water/ShutterstockTaking a walk outdoors has many physical and mental health benefits. It can spark creativity, improve your mood, get your blood moving, reset your circadian rhythms, and fill your vitamin D quota—all while getting a little exercise! Need more motivation? Here are 15 great reasons to take a 15-minute walk.

Painting a picture

paintingPoznyakov/ShutterstockNo one ever said you had to be good at something to enjoy it, and there's something so enjoyable about the creative process of putting color on canvas. It doesn't matter if you're using a full set of oil paints on a stretched canvas or your toddler's finger paints on paper, just the act of coloring outside the lines will tap in to a part of the brain many of us hardly ever use.

Eating a perfectly ripe berry

strawberriesJacob Lund/ShutterstockBerries are nature's candy. Eating a fresh-picked, perfectly sun-ripened strawberry is a sensation that once you've tasted it, you'll never forget it. For those who prefer their fruit blended (no judgement here!) try one of these 8 berry-licious smoothie recipes.

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Having your hair brushed

hairbrushesAfrica Studio/ShutterstockThere's something so intimate and special about the simple act of brushing someone's hair. For the person doing the brushing it is a kindness easily given. For the person getting their hair brushed (softly), it's pure, goose-bumpy bliss.

Reading in the bath

bathingAlliance/ShutterstockBubble baths are decadent all on their own but add music, candles, your favorite beverage, and a good book and you have all the makings for a perfect evening in. Plus it's good for you: Check out all the health benefits of baths for adults, no rubber ducky necessary.

Picking up a penny for good luck

pennyShutterstock ProfessionalWho cares if picking up change on the sidewalk actually brings you good luck? At the very least you'll be one cent richer and the earth will have one less piece of litter. It's a win/win.

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The smell of freshly baked bread

breadChamille White/ShutterstockIdeally we'd all bake our own bread and enjoy the heady scent in our homes. But if you don't have time to craft artisan loaves yourself (and who does, really?), a stroll by a bakery will let you smell the warm, yeasty aroma will no baking required. Or try one of these 5 no-fail quick bread recipes.

An old photo album

oldalbumsAndrzej Sowa/ShutterstockOld memories often fade into the background like old Polaroids. But it's important to preserve the past and sometimes all you need to jog your memory is a glance through an old photo album. All the old feelings, smells, sights, sounds, and family will come rushing back, helping you remember that you are as much your past as you are your potential.

Playing a game with a child

playingcardsurbans/ShutterstockUno, War, Candyland, and Checkers probably aren't on the top of your favorite pastimes list anymore but kids still love the simple games. Play a round with a child and not only will you make their day but you'll remember why they're so much fun in the first place. In a car? Try one of these 10 fun traveling games for kids.

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Walking barefoot through the park

shoesAndrii Orlov/ShutterstockRemember when shoes were little foot prisons your parents made you wear, back before they were fashion accessories or status symbols? There's a reason kids are always so quick to ditch their shoes! Shed your footwear and walk through the park, feeling the grass, sand, and asphalt under your feet. It's a whole new experience.

A morning stretch

stretchingAnemStyle/ShutterstockWhat's the first thing you do when you wake up? Check your phone, if you're like most people. Instead, try taking a deep breath and doing a full-body stretch. It just feels so good. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Spread your ribs. Lengthen your neck. Feel every part of you wake up. And then check your phone. If you must. (Here's the scientific reason you need to stretch every day.)

Whispering a happy secret

whisperingSyda Productions/ShutterstockSome secrets are made for sharing. Things like a what's for dessert, something kind someone else said, a surprise party invitation, or a simple "I love you" take on a whole new level of fun when shared in a conspiratorial matter.

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Opening a brand-new notebook

notebookKomkrit Noenpoempisut/ShutterstockThe smell of the new paper, the raw potential of all those empty lines, and the unmarked cover of a new notebook is the physical manifestation of possibility and hope. Or maybe it's just the physical manifestation of reminders and to-do lists. Either way it's fun to have clean, new pages.

Planting a seed

seedFabrikaSimf/ShutterstockIn our world of instant gratification, hypercolors, noise, and manufactured tastes, planting a seed and going through the slow, non-technological process of nourishing it and watching it grow is almost an act of rebellion. Flower, fruit, bush, or vegetable—it doesn't matter so long as you're getting some dirt under your fingernails. (The dirt provides good bacteria for your body which is just one of the 10 surprising reasons gardening is good for your health!)

Saying a prayer of thanks

meditatingLuna Vandoorne/ShutterstockMeditating on your blessings is one of the surest ways to feel better about your life, stat. It can be easy to forget everything we have when faced with an endless supply of things we want so be grateful for the good things. Bonus: Science says being grateful improves your health and your relationships.

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Shower singing

showersingingOllyy/ShutterstockEveryone sounds better in the shower. It's a scientific fact. (And if it's not, it should be.) So take advantage of the solitude, moist air, and good acoustics, and let out your inner rock star or opera singer. There's no one to judge you but the soap dish.

Clearing your email inbox

onlaptopLolostock/ShutterstockEmail is a wonderful modern convenience. It's also a huge pain in the butt. Once people know they can contact you anytime, any place, they do. Not to mention the bills, the coupons and the mountain of spam emails we all get daily. This can make checking your email feel like a terrible chore. Cleaning out your inbox, all the way down to zero, feels incredibly freeing. For pro tips, check out these 11 tips for managing your inbox.

Snapping a pretty picture

takingaphotographValentin Valkov/ShutterstockMost of us carry high-tech cameras in our pockets every day, yet we're so absorbed with the text on our phones we forget to look at all the little moments of beauty surrounding us. Next time you're out and about, take a moment to notice a crinkly leaf, a rainbow-colored oil slick, a shimmer of raindrops on your windshield or any number of little artworks and snap a quick picture to remember it. (Whether or not you post it or share it with anyone is entirely up to you!)

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New toothpaste

toothpasteSalvomassara/ShutterstockHaving good hygiene is just part and parcel of being a functioning adult. But that doesn't mean it can't be fun. And what is more satisfying than trashing your old, squished up, crusty tube of toothpaste and opening a fresh new tube? That first pearl of toothpaste is always so perfect. Just make sure you're not making one of these 8 common tooth-brushing mistakes!

The smell and feel of warm laundry

laundryVGstockstudio/ShutterstockPutting on a sweatshirt fresh out of the dryer is the closest thing to a hug you can get without another person. It's especially delightful after coming in out of the rain or snow.

The satisfying smack of a high-five

highfiveRawpixel.com/ShutterstockWhether you're the one offering the congratulations or receiving the kudos, a high-five is an outward symbol of something good, your little reward for being the awesome human you are. Plus it just feels good to smack your hand together with someone else's. Want to talk to them too? Try one of these 37 guaranteed conversation starters.

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Petting a kitten

kittenProstock studio/ShutterstockThe soft silky fur of a kitten is tailor-made for petting. And when their little purring motor turns on? It's a little slice of heaven as they snuggle into your lap.

A crisp apple

appleAlliance/ShutterstockFall is the first bite of a crunchy apple—the pop in your mouth, the juice on your chin, the subtle sweetness on your tongue. And with year-round orchards growing varieties that didn't even exist a decade ago, you don't have to wait until the leaves are falling to enjoy a good Honeycrisp or Snapdragon. Apple lovers, here are some important health benefits and risks you may not know about apples.

The merry popping of popcorn

popcornBojan Milinkov/ShutterstockPopcorn seems like such a happy food, bouncing around until it explodes. The noise signals something good is coming and the smell is tantalizing. (Unless you burn it and then it's the worst smell ever. Don't burn popcorn.) The best part is it is the perfect canvas for almost any kind of topping you can think of—cinnamon sugar, jalapeno cheddar, barbecue, vinegar, or the classic butter and salt. In case you need any more reasons to pop a bowl, here are 8 ways that popcorn is the perfect healthy snack.

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Cracking open a new book

readingPeter Bernik/ShutterstockFrom the seamless purchasing to the instant delivery, e-readers like Kindles and tablets make so many things easier for bibliophiles. One thing they can't do however is match the incomparable experience of opening a new book. Whether it's brand new with freshly inked pages and a stiff spine or just new to you, holding a book in your hand and feeling the weight of it is half the fun of reading it.

The soft squeeze of a hug

huggingpixelheadphoto digitalskillet/ShutterstockComfort. Warmth. Safety. Sympathy. Generosity. Kindness. Forgiveness. Love. Friendship. Nurturing. It's amazing that one simple gesture can mean so many big, beautiful things. But a hug offers a real connection and sometimes that says it better than any words could.

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