"Nothing can beat a conversation with a child," the Spanish actress says in a new interview with The Guardian.
"The biggest feelings I have ever experienced come from the way my children look at me," she says of Leo, 4, and Luna, 2. "Being a mother is seeing life from a different point of view, as if you were a child again. Even your relationship with nature changes; it's like you can see a tree through new eyes."
The actress, who stars in the upcoming Zoolander 2, admits that she was a very naughty child – "I hear so many stories," she says. "Maybe there is some truth in it" – but now that she's reached the age of 41, she's comfortable with the person she's become.
"Every day, and every year, you get to know yourself a little better, but never even close to knowing all the mysteries about yourself," she says. "Sometimes after a painful experience you can look back and start to become friends with the memory of it."
Penelope, who along with her sister Monica is a designer of Agent Provocateur's L'Agent line and is launching a swimwear line in November, has also made peace with getting older. It's a concept that a lot of Hollywood stars struggle with but Penelope says it's "something to celebrate."
"When I started getting asked: 'How do you feel about aging?' I would always pass. How can someone ask you that when you're 25?" she says. "There are only good things about it. That's very much the way we see it in Spain."
It makes sense to live your life not worrying about things you cannot control. "It's the fear of fear that can paralyze you the most," she says. "Fear is our worst enemy. It can affect so many decisions, so I always strive for it to not take my freedom away."
Maybe this talk of conquering your fears is how she convinced her pal Salma Hayek to let her cut her hair.
"When I was nine years old I used to spend a couple of hours a day washing and cutting hair at my parents' salon and still, today, I'll do everyone who lets me – like Salma Hayek, who is one of my best friends," she says. "I've done her hair when the power went out in her house, with just a candle. That one really trusts me."