Jennifer Aniston is on day 35 of her New Year’s resolution, and she’s still going strong Fresh from a mani-pedi, she’s wearing rolled-up jeans and zero makeup, her famous tresses hanging loose around her face as she lounges on a comfy couch in L.A. on a Friday night. Sipping a “vodka-tini,” she grins and invites a PEOPLE writer to join her for a drink as her dogs Norman and Dolly curl up nearby. “I decided to pay less attention to the media and to live my life more,” says the star, who turns 42 on Feb. 11. “Because for a while I found myself sort of staying home and not going anywhere. But then I thought, ‘If the paparazzi are going to get me with no makeup on and my hair in a scrunchy, well, guess what? Ain’t nothing Photoshopped right here. It’s real.'”
Over an hour and a half-filled with easy laughs, a few moments of just-us-girls TMI and a goodbye hug-what started as an interview felt more like girls’ night out. Witty and warm, Aniston got remarkably candid as she kicked back before a whirlwind week promoting her new comedy Just Go With It (along with her new namesake fragrance and omnipresent Smart-water). Topic A: the boyfriends-and-babies rumor mill. For starters, she says, she hasn’t dated anyone in more than a year and a half. And she isn’t adopting a baby-from Mexico or anywhere else. “I think people honestly just want to see me as a mom and married and barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen,” she says, laughing. “And I just want to say, ‘Everybody, relax! It’s going to happen.'”
What’s the biggest misconception about you?
The biggest misconception about me? That I’m unhappy. I’m really happy. Really! My version of happiness is where I’m sitting right now.
What makes you so happy?
I am blessed with an amazing career, and I have a great group of friends. Why waste time on the negative when you really do have the power of the mind to just switch it to something positive?
Sometimes that’s hard to do.
Sometimes it’s really hard. You just have to say it’s okay to be in a funk sometimes. I don’t trust somebody who’s happy all the time. You need the light and the dark.
Okay, we’re getting all philosophical!
[Laughs] No, it’s good! I love it. That’s my kind of conversation, trust me.
When you think of past relationships, what’s the first thought that pops into your head?
First thought? Awesome. I’ve had really awesome relationships; they’ve all been great relationships. I didn’t live through an abusive relationship. Whether they’ve lasted this long or that long, they were all great.
And you learned from them.
I learned from every single one of them. I think I’m just sort of a late bloomer. Whatever is supposed to be my destiny, my life person, I think I just had to go through all these stages first. There’s no part of me that doesn’t know that everything is happening the way it’s supposed to be happening.
What about pressure to have kids?
Oh, you mean, “When are you going to do it?” I know! I’m like, listen, I know myself at the moment. I’m not against doing it on my own, if it really led to that place. I just don’t think that’s going to be the case.
And when it does happen?
I’ll be singing from the mountaintop. Let me have the moment where I get to say, yes, in fact, I’m having a baby. As opposed to adopting from Mexico.
Do you ever wish you could push a fast-forward button?
I don’t want to fast forward. I’m just having a ball. Every male that I go out to dinner with is not going to be a date. I went to dinner three times this year with friends, and I was apparently dating every one.
Do you let your friends set you up?
No. I’m really picky. When I feel it, I feel it. It’s rare that it happens. In the last 10 years, it’s happened twice.
So what traits are you looking for in a guy?
Sense of humor, a good friend-see what their friendship list looks like. Are your friends consistent for 20 years or do you have to do new crops every two years? And loyalty.
Big time. And also discretion [laughs].
Do you get sick of all the stories out there that aren’t true?
Of course I have moments, but it’s like trying to stop something that’s just not going to stop. Although miracles can happen.
Do you laugh that the paparazzi always catch you when you’re bending over in your swimsuit?
Well, if I knew when those effers were there-the minute you see them, they get them really quick, and then the next thing you know, you’re hiding.
And you were getting grief for wearing the same bikini two years in a row.
I’m sorry, I will be wearing that same damn bikini again. I like that bikini! I’m a creature of habit. I still have clothes from high school. I have a pair of jeans that I’ve had since 1992. People say, “That’s great, where’d you get it?” “Uh, 15 years ago from Friends.” It always comes back around.
Do you feel for other stars going through divorces and breakups in the public eye like you have?
I don’t consider that normal in any way. Do I feel empathy for people having to go through that, having walked through that? Absolutely. Because that’s like your dirty laundry being aired. It’s nobody’s business. Nobody wants to have to walk through something difficult in front of millions of people and having them throw out ridiculous, ignorant comments. And it’s, you know, it’s a human experience.
What do you love most about your girlfriends?
They’re dependable; they’re loyal. They’re honest. We’re all from broken families. You find each other in your 20s, and you learn to sort of parent each other. We take care of each other.
You obviously take care of yourself too. What do you eat to look like that?
I have to have chips and salsa every now and then. I love to eat, but I don’t eat crap. I’m pretty much a protein and vegetables girl. I just had a chinois salad with parsley and mushrooms and salmon. But to me, that’s delicious. I don’t really eat starches-though pizza is sort of my weakness. I don’t remember the last time I had a cheeseburger. Oh yes, I do! When I wrapped Wanderlust in New York City, I ordered a cheeseburger from room service. It was delicious. So fantastic. Awesome.
Do you notice your body responding differently to diet and exercise as you get older?
No, but I’ve been doing it for a long time; that’s the key. My body has great muscle memory. Of course it forgets quicker these days. Like if I take a week off, all of a sudden, it’s like, ‘Hey!’ That used to not happen. Look, my girlfriends gave this to me [she lifts up her shirt to show a stamp on her stomach that reads ‘WTF’]. Because I’m always going, “What the f…,” which I know is terrible. I keep feeling like I’m premenstrual, so I just stamped it. I love my premenstrual “pillow!”
On that note… what’s your workout these days?
I switch it up. Yoga with Mandy [Ingber, her longtime instructor], and I’ve also been throwing Pilates in there. Usually for an hour, but if I’m working, I’ll just get up and do a 20-minute power run. Just sweat, then stretch. I actually like working out on an empty stomach. And my Pilates instructor said if you don’t want to build muscle, wait about an hour to eat after you work out so your muscles are leaning as opposed to building.
You don’t look like you need to lean out.
No, no. I just love that kind of stuff. It’s like an experiment I love science experiments! I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Network the other day, and of course I luck into an infomercial, and it’s this thing called Timeless Secret. And I find myself sitting there for an hour, riveted by these little testimonials of this eye cream. They say, ‘You will look younger in 14 days!’ So of course I’m watching it, going, “But the lighting is so good, how is that possible?” Cut to me going online, and now I have it.
You bought it?
I did. I like to test if those things work. I was like, “It’s on the Oprah network. Oprah wouldn’t lie to me.” I don’t know, I’ve been using it. I’m on day, four?
Have you noticed a difference?
No [laughs]! But I’ve got 10 days to go.
What’s been one of your biggest a-ha moments?
This summer I woke up in the middle of the night in London, and I couldn’t sleep, and I knew I really needed to simplify my life. And along with that came the thought, “I should sell my house” [her 9,000-sq.-ft. Beverly Hills home]. I was like, “Wait, I just built it; it was like my heart, my project, my love,” but I had the realization that it is just too much for me. I’m not this person. I’ve had my old house [a smaller one in L.A.] since ’94, and I love it. I might just move back there. I’m looking for little spots in New York City to go back home. There are all sorts of things that are going to be happening in the near future, so I’m excited. I don’t know what they are, but that’s the fun part.
When did you last experience a moment of bliss?
Oh.. .just today. I was doing yoga with Mandy outside, and it was a beautiful day. Nothing was happening. I just stood up, and I was really happy. With my best friend of 20 years and moving my body and we’re chatting and just having a moment of gratitude. You know, life is good. It really is.