50 best simple pleasures that make life worth living

Sometimes it really is the little things that make life beautiful!

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

Clean sheets
Nothing 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.

The smell of bitumen in the summer rain
Games of tag, getting called to dinner, staying up late playing street cricket and neighbourhood 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
Infants' 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. Scents can be incredibly powerful and even affect our health – here are 10 soothing scents that can boost your immune system.

An empty sink
A 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 favourite 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.) Struggle to ever see an empty sink? Don't miss these great kitchen and dining room cleaning hacks. 

Your favourite song
It doesn’t have to be popular, catchy, or even from this era, but we all have a favourite 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. Don't play it too loud though... check out our guide to keeping your hearing to find out why.

Dancing with a child
Kids 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 favourite kids in a dance-off.

A shared joke
Jokes, 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. Does your sense of humour veer towards the black? If you laugh at these dark jokes, you're probably a genius. 

A text from your loved one
In 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 any time 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. Here are 10 mobile phone etiquette rules you should be following... but aren't.

New socks
Socks – 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. Oh, you prefer the smell of dirty socks?! Don't worry, it doesn't necessarily mean you're crazy! Here's how to tell if your neuroses are normal. 

Doggy kisses
Dogs 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. Along with a tongue bath, here are 28 ways your pet is trying to tell you they love you. 

A crossed-off to-do list
Is 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
It’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. Head here to learn how to create an orderly home office. 

Dark chocolate
There’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!) Here are some more fascinating facts about dark chocolate.  

A spring breeze through an open window
After a long closed-in winter, simply opening a window feels like an act of rebellion. Begone musty jumpers and heaters! Welcome fresh air with the promise of flowers, picnics and beaches lingering in the breeze! Fresh air can also help ward off viruses. Find out some other ways to decrease your chances of catching a cold.  

The smell of fresh-cut grass
Mowing 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 neighbours nearby! 

Picking a flower
You 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
Standing 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.

A warm drink on a cold day
There’s just something about being warm and cosy inside while the weather is chilly and unforgiving outside. So snuggle up with your favourite tea or hot cocoa and enjoy watching the wind blow from the safety of your cocoon. Here are the top 53 comfort foods guaranteed to make you feel better every time. 

Ice blocks
Frozen 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 colours.

An Internet outage
What 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 favourite book from childhood
In 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. Some of your favourite childhood tales are surprisingly on this list of books we bet you never knew were banned.

Jumping for joy
You 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
When 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. Here are 12 more ways to brighten your morning. 

Cloud shapes
Laying 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!) 

A brisk walk
Taking 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! Along with walking, here are some simple steps towards a healthier you!

Painting a picture
No 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 colour 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 colouring outside the lines will tap in to a part of the brain many of us hardly ever use.

Eating a perfectly ripe berry
Berries 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. Prefer to drink your berries? This mixed berry smoothie should be just the ticket. 

Having your hair brushed
There’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
Bubble baths are decadent all on their own but add music, candles, your favourite beverage and a good book and you have all the makings for a perfect evening in.

Picking up a coin for good luck
Who cares if picking up change on the footpath 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. Head here to find out the origins of superstitions and lucky charms.

The smell of freshly baked bread
Ideally 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. 

An old photo album
Old 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
Uno, Monopoly, Yahtzee and checkers probably aren’t on the top of your favourite 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.

Walking barefoot through the park
Remember 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 concrete under your feet. It’s a whole new experience.

A morning stretch
What’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. Meanwhile, here are four soothing yoga poses to help you sleep.

Whispering a happy secret
Some secrets are made for sharing. Things like 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.

Opening a brand-new notebook
The 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
In our world of instant gratification, hypercolours, 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.

Saying a prayer of thanks
Meditating 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. Find out more about the power of gratitude here.

Shower singing
Everyone 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
Email 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.

Snapping a pretty picture
Most 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-coloured 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!) Meanwhile, here are 9 other smart uses for your mobile phone camera. 

New toothpaste
Having 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.

The smell and feel of warm laundry
Putting 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
Whether 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.

Petting a kitten
The 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. Make sure you're petting the right way though – here are 13 things you do that your cat actually hates. 

A crisp apple
Autumn 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 crunch. 

The merry popping of popcorn
Popcorn seems like such a happy food, bouncing around until it explodes. The noise signals something good is coming and the smell is tantalising. (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. Ever wondered why popcorn pops? Find out here.  

Cracking open a new book
From 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. Want to start a book club? Here's how.

The soft squeeze of a hug
Comfort. 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. 

This article first appeared on Reader's Digest