24 things that spark midlife joy

Things that spark joy 
Credit: Getty 

THE INEXORABLE march of Marie Kondo continues, and now that we have emptied our houses, we find ourselves obsessively scanning the rest of our lives to see what sparks joy. Is this joy? Is this joy? Is this JOY? How much joy do we need? Thankfully, we’ve found some. 

Before we proceed, you should know that Emilie’s joy is the jumping-up-and-down-while-clapping-her-hands kind. For Annabel, it’s more of a twitch of the mouth or (if things are really good) perhaps even a slight inhalation. But anyway, back to the things that give us joy. JOY. Joy…


  • Pandas — Those videos of pandas rolling down hills, cuddling or sneezing. Are pandas aggressive? If I snuggled one would it break my neck? 
  • Silk pillowcases — Don’t judge me. Try them. Then come back and apologise. 
  • Bejewelled hair slides — Now you too can see my inner child screaming.
  • Pedicures — So my goatherd toes can look – briefly – like little gems.
  • Ordering something online and it being too big — Totally worth the shipping fee.
  • Eating cherries — (In the bath.)
  • Every time something works — The telly, washing machine, car. Anything. Always feels like a miracle. Having said that, last week I fixed the boiler with a YouTube video. That was joyful. Realising I wasn’t entirely hopeless was… hopeful. 
  • Finding a tenner in a coat pocket — The universe is smiling upon my fortunes. Actually, a fiver will do.
  • My new Madeleine Thompson rainbow cardigan — Cheery but glam.
  • Flowers — Happy to buy them for myself. And do so weekly. 
  • Musicals — Why do they appeal to the most cynical soul? Emilie and I saw The Sound of Music at the Palladium in 2007 and gave Lesley Garrett a tearful standing ovation. Saying that, I’m a proper musicals snob: A Star is Born? Not a musical. The Greatest Showman? Keep it.
  • Sorbet – Underrated. So fresh.


  • A happy friend — When you text someone, ‘How are you?’ and they say, ‘Great.’
  • When I’ve booked my holiday — Makes me feel like I’m winning.
  • Closing the dishwasher at night — And that ‘whoosh’ as it turns on and it’s the end of the day and there will be clean stuff in my future.   
  • Aldi moisturiser — I’ve tried the posh ones. But at £1.45 I can slather this on like a child with Granny’s cold cream. 
  • My own chips — Just not sharing.
  • Jonathan Van Ness ice-skating — Queer Eye’s groomer is learning to skate and I’m here for every Instagram update.
  • Ticking off anything on the big to-do list — Hey, I finally had the roof fixed after seven years of slow dripping in my soul.  
  • My dog — I’m a late-blooming dog nut. No one is ever as happy to see me as my mutt Billy. Every. Single. Day.  
  • When I manage to take anything to the charity shop — *mic drop*
  • Sleeper trains — The rocking, the tea in the morning, the glamour, the being alone in a cabin. The rocking.
  • Hot chocolate after cold swimming —  Pain then pleasure.
  • If I manage to underthink something —  Obviously this never happens.  

The new series of Annabel and Emilie’s podcast I’m Absolutely Fine! is available on iTunes; themidult.com