40 Life Truths I Learned Being 40

I wanted to write a profound post about the first year in this new decade of being 40. I was hoping for words to inspire or to motivate or to make you laugh, but instead found myself sitting at my worn kitchen table thinking about this past year. And what to make for dinner.

But really about life.

And how life rarely looks the way one imagine their life when they’re young. About motherhood. About happiness. About finding oneself. About that 40 year old birthday that when you’re a kid seems so old and yet, now that I’m on the eve of 41 I feel so so young. It feels in some ways as if I should be able to do all the things I did when I was young and yet the wisdom that I’ve gained being 40 seems so much more worth it to stay here. Not as if I have a choice, really.

I think for the first time in my life I’ve become content in who I am and am less worried about measuring up to expectations of how I think others think I should be. Notice the words I think – and that’s because for so long I’ve self imposed limits on myself based on my own interpretations of what others think of me. So instead now, I’ve embraced the quirks and the flaws and the fact that I still get nervous before I fly even though I fly dozens and dozens of times a year.

I’ve learned to love that my heart skips a beat still and that rainbows make me smile and that I’m a defender for what is right and just and that flying, even with the nerves, is a favorite thing.

Yes. That’s a Snapchat. I just thought it cool that it said 187.1 mph. Ha. The inner child should never be crushed by the realities and heaviness of life. Because that part is inevitable.


So I wrote you a list. A list that I kind of want you to ponder. To think about. To share.

To remember.

Because it’s not about measuring up.

It’s about learning to love you for you.

40 Life Truths. From my heart.

1. Happiness is a choice. Don’t waste time not finding it.

2. Joy is also a choice. It is, however, not the same as happiness.

3. Tell those you love you love them every single day.

4. Do not go to bed angry.

5. Fight for your heart.

6. Friends love you for you.

7. True friends are there to extend a hand and pick you up when you fall.

8. Your personal agenda should never cloud your ability to love another.

9. Deal with the past, let yourself feel, learn from it and then let it go.

10. Always be friends with the baristas. They have great power over your day.

11. Hold hands with your kids as much as you can.

12. Don’t trade sleep. Invest in a good pillow too.

13. Speak your dreams out loud to someone who will hold you accountable.

14. Hold the door open for others.

15. Fear is just fear. Don’t let it define you.

16. Do one thing every day that scares you. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

17. Real life is a bit uncomfortable but exhilarating.

18. Be thankful for normal, boring, slow and just okay days.

19. Always set three alarms on days that you fly. Or the kids have school. So, duh, most days.

20. A handwritten note is always worth the time.

21. Less stuff equals much freedom.

22. Don’t let fear of money keep you from letting go of things.

23. When one is real and shares their heart it gives space for others to be real.


24. Comparison will rob you from joy, happiness and motivation.

25. Aging happens. Wrinkles show up. Real beauty is internal.

26. Surround yourself with people who love you.

27. No is a powerful word. Use it carefully. And don’t be afraid of saying yes.

28. Forgiveness is even more powerful.

29. There is no such thing as perfection. Don’t chase it. Just be you.

30. Turn your phone off when you are at the table or out with friends.

31. Not every moment needs to have a picture with it.

32. Your integrity, your word, your character matters. Don’t trade that ever.

33. Show up for those you love. At the door, in their lives – don’t let social likes remove humanity.

34. Let yourself laugh. Oh my, this, let yourself laugh.

35. Don’t let your feelings dictate your response.

36. However, don’t hide from your feelings. They are a gateway to your heart.

37. Not everyone will like you. That’s okay.

38. There is no guilt in taking care of you – and in cultivating your dreams.

39. It is okay to ask for help. And beautiful to give.

40. Labels don’t define. Numbers don’t either. And it’s never ever to late to really live.

So live.

That’s my goal for this year. To live. Without fear.

And if you’ve followed my writing – you’ll notice the trajectory – the shift from finding happiness, to letting go of guilt to pushing ourselves to articulate our hearts and fight for us.

Thanks for showing up for me.



ps. And just in case you were hoping acne still happens. Bummer.

pss. And never turn down dessert. Ever.

24 Responses to “40 Life Truths I Learned Being 40”

  1. February 9, 2016

    Lana Reply

    Thank you for this perspective. I turn 40 tomorrow, Feb 10th.
    Happy Birthday to you, too!

  2. February 9, 2016

    Dana Symons Reply

    Thank you for sharing this! I did a very similar post a little over a year ago when I turned 30 (http://waters-edge.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-big-3-0-life-lessons-from-three.html) — so it’s very cool to read the perspective of someone 10 years ahead of me. Happy Birthday to you and wishing you joy and blessings.

  3. February 9, 2016

    Jaime Edwards Reply

    This list is perfect , I’m only 34 but these are truths that everyone should embrace.

  4. February 9, 2016

    Maggie Reply

    I will be 60 this year (it’s just a number), emotionally I am still 40, physically I am truly 60. This list is equally important to me, 20 years later. Thank you for posting.

  5. February 9, 2016

    Sandra Reply

    Thank you again Rachel! I’m turning 40 at the end of this year and I find my feelings are all over the place. Trying to find the balance between being a wife, mom, and just being me. Most of all trying to be happy with it all. xo

  6. February 9, 2016

    janine Reply

    Hahaha…I’m 47 & just found a pimple on my elbow the other day…bummer lol! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. February 9, 2016

    jessigreenwell Reply

    Happy Birthday sweetheart! I always find myself really enjoying your writing. Thank you for this list as well, and for number 24. They’re all really good, but that one jumped out.

  8. February 9, 2016

    Wendy Palmblad Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It means a lot to me when I really needed to hear almost all of these.

  9. February 9, 2016

    Jen Reply

    I turn 41 this year. I had big plans for 40 & at least one big thing happened, but it wasn’t in my plan. As I get closer to my 41st, I see myself letting go of all the notions of what I “should have” done by this point. I’m releasing myself from the chains of what I haven’t yet done and doing my best to recognize all the wonderful things I am and still have the opportunity to become. Your list is excellent & one I will share with my daughter in hopes that she will learn these things earlier in life and allow herself to reach her truth sooner.

  10. February 9, 2016

    Tracy Reply

    This is truly beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I will turn 40 next year. But I m gonna work on this list from now on.

  11. February 10, 2016

    Jennifer Southern Reply

    Great list Rachel! I turned 45 on my most recent birthday, which was far more difficult than 40. (Be warned๐Ÿ˜‰). Most days, I live by your list. I look back at my youth and wish that I had the wisdom I have now, though, all those little moments build us into who we are today. I’m standing with you. Just living.

  12. February 10, 2016

    Stephanie Reply

    I love, love, love, this list! Thank you for putting words to my thoughts.

  13. March 27, 2016

    leadership skills Reply

    Thanks for this beautifully written post. love it. live our lives to the fullest.Enjoy and have fun.

  14. April 13, 2016

    Helen murray Reply

    Beautiful words… I’m 35 still trying to find myself and words like this remind me of what is truly important..Thank you xx

  15. April 13, 2016

    Nicole Walls Reply

    I love this list. I think this amazing as I am nearing 40 I want to apply these to my life

  16. May 26, 2016

    Darryl Reply

    I like #20 A hand written note. So true. At http://www.simplewordcards.com you might find a card that you can fill in or just use a post-it. Which ever you choose, it will be appreciated.

  17. June 10, 2016

    Jane Allen Reply

    I love this tip:

    “There is no such thing as perfection. Donโ€™t chase it. Just be you.”

    It’s something I’m just learning to do. For a long time, I catered to the whims and caprices of other people but last year, I just decided to break free. I decided to be my own person and it’s been so glorious. I have peace of mind too. I’ll be 38 in a number of days. Thanks for sharing from the heart!

  18. June 24, 2016

    ALR Reply

    Rachel, I love your blog. #8 in this post. Always #8.

  19. September 27, 2016

    Laura Reply

    Just turned 40 a few weeks ago. Been thinking about a lot of those things. I thought it would feel like I’m on top of the hill and I would magically have this beautiful perspective from which to survey my life. What I realized instead, is perspective is hard work and a choice as well.
    I’m so happy I found your writing.
    Thank you.

  20. October 18, 2016

    Janet Reply

    I agree all but one thing, don’t hope to live with out fear, hope to have the courage to feel the fear, but move straight through it. I believe we will always have fear, it’s human, but learning to accept fear and learn ways to over come the fear. Wonderful read …….

  21. January 21, 2017

    MONICA Reply

    Made me cry. Thank you. I deeply thank you for your words of wisdom. Beautiful thoughtful tips to a better life. God bless you.

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