Ever since my 40th birthday last year, I’m different. I am calmer, I walk with a skip in my step, I smile more easily and more frequently. I wake up every day feeling the way I do after clearing a closet or organizing my junk drawer.

I think it’s because I have been doing a lot of emotional de-cluttering over the last few years. I am so much more in touch with where I am, what I have, and what I still need (and don’t need).

So after clearing out a lot of the emotional noise and mess, and in honor of my 41st birthday, here is a list of what I’ve learned and why life is better at 40.

  1. Every day is a gift

  2. A few good friends are better than many acquaintances

  3. Simple is better

  4. My life experiences trump my formal education

  5. I can laugh at my mistakes

  6. My relationships are stronger

  7. There is nothing like being in pajamas before dinner

  8. I know that God's plan for me is better than anything I can dream for myself

  9. I’ve found ways to make exercise fun – Spartan, Warrior Dash, Mud Hero

  10. Sleep is my friend

  11. Spending money on making memories is better than buying more stuff

  12. It’s easier to say No…but I say Yes more often

  13. I’m not afraid to challenge myself

  14. I know what I can control…and what I can’t

  15. Friends can become family

  16. A beautiful sunset can make my entire day

  17. I’m less self-conscious

  18. I am a kinder, more sympathetic person

  19. I love that my wardrobe is made up of a few pieces I don’t mind wearing over and over again

  20. I am better at telling the people in my life that I love and appreciate them

  21. I can stand up for myself

  22. Yummy take-out is better than going out to a fancy gourmet meal

  23. I’ve learned how to accept a compliment and learn from criticism

  24. I know when something is not my business

  25. I can admit when I’m wrong – usually

  26. Leaving a sink full of dishes for the morning is not the end of the world

  27. Sometimes taking a walk is better than taking a nap

  28. I’ve learned to let things go

  29. When you feel good about yourself others feel good when they’re with you

  30. Being jealous of someone else is stupid – I have what I need

  31. I’ve accepted that change is not always a bad thing

  32. I can choose my mood

  33. I’ve stopped trying to be like everyone else

  34. Having the house to myself is awesome

  35. Time moves faster – making the good times sweeter and the not so good easier

  36. I appreciate the little things

  37. It’s easier to ask for help

  38. I know who I am…and who I am not

  39. I am stronger – physically, emotionally, and spiritually

  40. The future is exciting