As a quote from Benjamin Franklin says, "Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life." Making it a point to prioritize and enjoy life’s simplest pleasures is one of the easiest ways to find joy every day.
Like Ben said, you don't have to wait for those big, earth-shattering milestones to make you happy since those only come once in a blue moon. Let’s explore why simple pleasures in life are so important and some completely free ideas of simple life pleasures for you to enjoy!
Why do simple life pleasures matter?
Finding pleasure and fulfillment in the simple things is important for a lot of different reasons:
- It makes you more satisfied and content in life.
- You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy yourself.
- A positive attitude improves your mental, emotional, and physical health.
- It gives you perspective and makes it easier to cope with stress.
There’s truly no downside to making time to enjoy simple life pleasures. So let’s move on to the list of ideas!
36 Of the simplest pleasures in life to enjoy right now
Want to start making time for more simple pleasures in life? Here are 36 ideas to get you started!
1. Listening to music
Music is something that unites almost every human, no matter what culture we’re from or what kind of genres we enjoy. It can make us dance, make us sing along, tug at our heartstrings, and inspire us. It also has many health benefits! For instance, listening to music can boost mood, lower stress, and improve depression.
2. Reading a good book
One of the simplest pleasures in life is curling up with a good book, whether it’s in a hammock on a breezy summer day or in a chair with a blanket as it rains outside. Also if you’re something of a book hoarder like me, you can catch up on all the books on your shelf you’ve been meaning to read.
I also love getting books from the library, because it’s free and saves space since you return them afterward. Or, look for free e-books on an e-reader like Kindle or a smartphone app!
3. Watching the sunrise or sunset is one of the most mesmerizing and simplest pleasures in life
A lot of the best simple life pleasures can be found in nature. Whether you’re an early bird who likes to catch the soft pastels of dawn, or you can never stop staring at the dramatic hues of sunset, the sky holds simple joys for us all.
Consider taking a picture or short video clip every time, so you can make a sky montage of each month, season, or year. Pictures are a fabulous way to have a keepsake of memories because you can relive the best moments any time you want!
4. Going for a nature walk or hike
Along the same lines, did you know that research shows there’s a significant link between happiness and time in nature? And since it’s also well-established that exercise boosts our moods, nature walks or hikes give you the best of both worlds! Try looking on AllTrails or TrailLink to find options suitable for any level!
5. Watching flowers bloom in spring
Admire their small, delicate details and the fresh aromas of spring. You could also plant your very own garden to enjoy on a daily basis!
6. Spending time with loved ones is a treasured simple pleasure
Sometimes, all you need to have an amazing day is to be surrounded by the right people. Plan to enjoy some of life’s simplest pleasures in the company of your family and friends, so you can all build memories that last. Have them pick some of their favorite things to do, so you can find out what their simple pleasures are too!
7. Foraging for berries or mushrooms
This simple life pleasure goes back to the dawn of humanity—exploring the forests and collecting nature’s bounty.
As long as you’re extremely careful about which ones you actually eat, learning how to identify and forage plants is a fun and useful free activity. See if you can join a local group to learn the ropes!
8. Practicing mindfulness
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that focuses on the senses. It’s all about slowing down, feeling your own breath, paying attention to the sights, sounds, scents, tastes, and feelings you’re experiencing. It’s a great way to get more in touch with yourself and experience life more vividly.
That said, we should all be working on developing our attitudes of mindfulness!
9. The satisfaction of finishing a workout
Pushing yourself through a hard workout can feel difficult in the moment, but you can’t beat the endorphins and feeling of satisfaction when you’re done.
The hardest part of an exercise routine is usually finding the motivation to get started, so try finding a way to work out that doesn't feel like a chore. Maybe yours is a dance-style workout like Zumba, or swimming for cardio, or the Couch to 5K running plan.
10. Catching up with an old friend
Friendships can go through lulls, but even when you haven’t spoken for years, one of the simplest pleasures in life is catching up like it’s been no time at all.
So reach out and share a memory to reconnect! Valuable friendships are worth the effort to maintain since they can impact every part of our lives down to our finances.
11. Getting a great night of sleep is a healthy simple pleasure
Sometimes when you wake up, it can feel like you barely slept at all. Getting a truly good night of sleep, where you wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested, is one of the simplest pleasures that’s good for our health and wellbeing too!
Follow the CDC's "sleep hygiene" tips, like keeping electronic devices out of your bedroom and going to bed at a consistent time each night.
12. Making a bucket list
Daydreaming about all the things you want to do in the future is a great way to spend an afternoon because it helps you visualize your goals. Outline the things you want to experience in life and start planning how to achieve them!
Where are some places you want to travel to? What are some adventures you'd like to try? Do you want to write a book or make music? Let your imagination go wild.
13. Driving with your windows down is one of the most refreshing simplest pleasures
A warm summer day with the windows down and your favorite music on automatically makes you feel young and carefree, no matter what age you are.
Gas costs and "wear and tear" on your car mean this one isn't completely free, but try it on a day when you have errands to run anyway.
14. Drinking a tall, cold glass of water
This simple life pleasure is even better after a workout, or when it’s sweltering outside, or when you’ve just woken up, and your throat feels dry. Plus, being well-hydrated improves your physical, mental, and even emotional health!
Bring a reusable water bottle with you when you're out and about, so you can make sure you're well-hydrated throughout the day.
15. The ambiance of a rainy day
Sunny days have their charms too, but there’s something nostalgic and cozy about a rainy day. The fresh breeze before a storm, the sound of droplets falling on the roof, the aroma of the earth after rain...stay in with a book, or grab an umbrella and go for a stroll to enjoy it. "Petrichor," described as the earthy smell of rain on dry soil, is one of my favorite scents.
16. A bonfire with friends
Late summer and fall are undoubtedly the best times to have an evening bonfire. With the slight chill in the air, it's a great way to enjoy the outdoors after dark. Bundle up in a sweatshirt or flannel, grab a warm drink, and watch the flames dance. You could also grab some tasty marshmallows to roast on the fire!
17. Taking a long shower or bath
Whether you’re sweaty after a summer run, or chilled to the bone after shoveling snow, or coming jetlagged off a long flight, a good shower is a simple life pleasure that can make you feel human again.
Turn it as cool or hot as you want, use your favorite soaps and shampoos, and try a bath bomb (or shower bomb) for the extra spa factor.
18. Walking barefoot in the grass is a simple pleasure you can do every day
Live somewhere with a lawn? Don’t just stare at it—enjoy it! Being barefoot in the grass can hearken you back to simpler childhood times or just make you feel more relaxed and connected to the earth you’re standing on. Just watch out for bees pollinating wildflowers because bee stings are a part of childhood none of us miss!
19. Decluttering your space is one of the most productive and simplest pleasures in life
Studies of psychology show that clutter stresses us out! Dedicating an afternoon to a top-to-bottom spring cleaning and decluttering session can feel like quite an endeavor, but when you’re sitting in a clean, organized home, with a candle burning and instrumental music on, you’ll bask in the simple joy of a beautiful living space and a productive day.
Make someone else’s day by donating the items you no longer need or sell some items for extra cash! You could make decluttering more fun with our 30-day minimalist challenge!
20. Making someone smile
Whether it’s a genuine compliment, a surprise bouquet of wildflowers, or a groan-worthy dad joke, there are countless free ways to make someone smile. Challenge yourself to get at least one smile a day from your partner, friends, family, or strangers! You can also use the Random Acts of Kindness website for ideas.
21. Searching for the best fall foliage
Autumn is my favorite season—I love taking a trip, bike ride, hike, or drive to admire the brilliant colors of the fall forests and mountains. Explore your area to find the best trails and views!
You can even add an educational element by grabbing a tree identification book to learn about what you're seeing. This is also a perfect idea for a date day!
22. Taking a beautiful photo
While you’re out enjoying life’s simplest pleasures, memorialize the memory with a photo too. Learn some of the principles of photo composition and practice with any camera you already have (including your smartphone)!
However, try to balance taking photos and living in the moment by limiting yourself to a certain number of pictures per location. (Sometimes, I’m guilty of taking dozens or hundreds of pictures and filling up my SD card too fast!)
23. Stargazing on a clear night
Looking for simple life pleasures that put things in perspective and remind you of how small you are in the universe? Stargazing is just the thing! Check out the list of International Dark Sky Places to find a prime site near you, or just lay out in your backyard and identify constellations.
24. Looking back at old photos
Nostalgia is a mix of joy, wistfulness for times gone by, and memories of experiences and people who used to be in your life. Break out the photo albums next time you visit your family, or for a modern-day equivalent, scroll back to the beginning of your social media accounts!
25. Watching ocean waves crash is one of the most entrancing and simplest pleasures to witness
Many people feel instinctively drawn to the sea because of its vast power and beauty. You can easily lose yourself in thought while staring at the waves and listening to them crashing. Going during the off-season or to a secluded shoreline is the most relaxing way to experience this simple life pleasure.
26. A gentle snowfall
We’ve touched on some of the simplest pleasures from all the other seasons, and we can’t leave winter out! A fresh snowfall makes the world feel soft and clean.
Watching the flakes drift down while you’re inside a warm house with a cup of coffee or tea is one of the coziest experiences winter has to offer. You could also put on some good music and light candles to enhance the atmosphere a bit.
27. Volunteering for a good cause
Using your time to help others is one of the most fulfilling things you can do because you can help with things you value the most.
You can volunteer at a local soup kitchen or charity, put together bags full of comforts and necessities for the homeless, help staff a community program, etc. This can help you gain perspective, live more authentically, and make a real difference in the world.
28. Making a home-cooked meal is a frugal and simple pleasure
Creating and sharing delicious food from scratch is definitely one of life’s simplest pleasures shared by all of humanity. While ingredients themselves aren’t free, this idea could be a chance to clean out supplies in your pantry that have been around for a while! In fact, there are multiple apps dedicated to helping you meal plan with ingredients you already have on hand.
29. Writing or journaling
Is your mind full of ideas for a novel or short story begging to be jotted down? Or do you love stumbling on old journals and smiling at the memories of your earlier life?
Writing is a window into your own brain, and an outlet for your creativity, and all it costs is time. So make it a goal to start a self-care journal or whatever type of writing that brings you joy.
30. Watching a great movie or show
More in the mood to kick back to enjoy the fruits of another writer’s creativity brought to life on the screen? You don't even have to pay for TV or Netflix, because you can find great shows and movies free of cost too! Check out these eight free or cheap alternatives to cable. You can also check your local library for free DVD rentals!
31. Finishing things on your to-do list
When tasks are piling up, it can quickly start to feel overwhelming. But checking those dreaded items off a list makes up for it in satisfaction! When you have a long list of things to do, try starting with the one you hate the most—then you’ll be free of the pressure as you complete the easier ones.
32. Learning something new
Gaining new skills makes you a more well-rounded, satisfied, and happy person. And in the age of the internet, information and education are more accessible than ever!
You can take a free online course like these personal finance courses, watch a YouTube video to learn a new skill, read an educational book, ask someone to teach you a skill like a mentor or a grandparent. Learning new skills can also help you increase your income!
33. Playing a game (sports, cards, board games, etc)
If you already have a basketball, soccer ball, baseball and mitt, badminton set, deck of cards, or board game collection, it doesn’t cost any extra money to use them! So challenge your household to a friendly competition or host a game night.
I'm a bit of a game nerd, so board games are often on the agenda with my friends and family. (And the more you play them, the lower your cost per use gets!)
34. Watching birds and wildlife
Animals are amazing and entertaining to watch. Maybe your simple life pleasure of the day will be waking up to a bird singing outside your window or seeing a fox cross your yard, or taking a short trip to go birdwatching or to visit a wildlife preserve. Spending time with your beloved companion animals is a wonderful simple pleasure.
35. Seeing your debt shrink and your money grow
So if you’re on a journey to get out of debt, logging in to see a smaller balance with each payment can be an instant hit of dopamine! The same applies to seeing your savings or investment balance grow larger and hit the milestones you’re striving for.
So set aside time each week to monitor your financial progress. Although paying off debt costs money, the ability to take a moment and be proud of yourself is totally free!
36. Achieving your goals is the most rewarding yet simplest pleasures in life
The more goals you have in life, the more pleasure you can derive from achieving them! So check out these ideas of yearly goals for all areas of life, from finances to health to personal development and more. Write down your own list of goals, then make sure to track how close you are to accomplishing them.
Take a moment to enjoy the simplest pleasures in life!
These are just a handful of the many simple pleasures in life you can enjoy for free! There are so many more, and it's up to each individual to discover which ones are the most meaningful to them. For even more inspiration, see this list of hobbies that you can enjoy and actually make you money too.
Find joy in saving money and sign up for our completely free savings challenge bundle! This bundle includes the $5 savings challenge, meal planning challenge, master your spending challenge, and more!