Pigeon of Discontent: “What Little Treats Do You Enjoy?”

Each week, I post a video about some Pigeon of Discontent raised by a reader. Because, as much as we try to find the Bluebird of Happiness, we’re also plagued by those small but pesky Pigeons of Discontent.

This week’s Pigeon of Discontent, suggested by me (this week, I’m proposing my own Pigeon!): “What little treats do you enjoy?”


If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…

What are the small treats you give yourself?

Do you make time to “treat” yourself? You should.

5 myths about fighting the blues.

How about you? What are your little treats? I want to add to my list!  This weekend, I was thwarted in one of my favorite and most reliable little treats: I headed to the library, but I’d forgotten about summer hours, and it was closed.

  • Noelle

    I just bought a hula hoop. I gave it a go last night when I was very tired & it perked me up. This morning I did it again for 5 minutes. I don’t have a lot of time and boom it shifted a achy tired body to a less achy tired body and a bit of glow on the face. More ideas later.

  • Lately I’ve been trying to visit beautiful places on my lunch hour. I’m in Boston and there are lots of lovely free spots to enjoy. Also…spontaneous singing! My friend just came over to my desk singing Madonna’s ‘Express yourself’ and we sang almost the entire song. Totally made my morning! 🙂

  • Allison Cloud

    one of my favorite little treats is a cup of coffee or tea that i made myself at home. i love how it engages all my senses, and i almost always use a mug that is special to me (my favorites are my grandparents’ old initialed mugs) and take it out on my screened in porch that is private and peaceful and lovely. i make myself sit for at least 5 minutes to just look at the trees, pray, watch my kids play, or just be quiet and alone. other little treats: buying a cheap bunch of flowers while i am at the grocery store, singing along to my favorite singers (usually gillian welch), and holding a baby any chance i can. i have one of my own right now, but when i haven’t, i loved to just hold and breathe in that sweet scent that only little babies have. it does good things for the soul.

  • pam

    I love little vases–tiny ones. When I need a treat, I buy or pick one blossom and have fresh flowers in the house. I can buy an inexpensive bouquet at the grocery store and have fresh flowers in every room. This is one of my favorite treats–fresh flowers.

    • Amy

      I do this too! My favorite is a teeny tiny bud vase that fits no more than a couple of thin stems. I have it in my office, and when I go for a lunchtime walk, I pick a few wildflowers to add to it. They last a few days, and it fills my cubicle with nature–so good for the office blues!

      • Jane

        I am adding this one to my list

  • I never used to get facials or even wash my face, I hate to admit, before going to bed. Only in the morning when I was in the shower. But I started going once a month to get a facial earlier this year (that’s more like a big treat, not a little one, but I’m getting there). I discovered a masque after the woman who does my facials gave me a sample that the moment I put it on my face, I feel calmer and happier. It’s truly bizarre how consistent that reaction is. So now, if I wake up in the morning and feel tired, I splash water on my face, put on the mask, and wear it into the kitchen while I’m making coffee for me and breakfast for my kids. They think it’s funny that I have this yellowy, oatmealy stuff all over my face. It really feels like a little treat — and I just rinse it off when I hop in the shower, or wash it off if that shower doesn’t come until after I take them to school. The masque is Eminence Calm Skin Arnica Masque. I think I’ll go put some on right now!

  • heidi

    I’ve been living away from home for a couple of years and my cat is currently living with his ‘grandparents’. There is a visually impaired street performer who plays beautiful guitar music several days a week, and has the most amazing big lab dog. I always stop by to listen, make a contribution and pet the dog (he’s not wearing his ‘working’ harness). It always brightens my day to have a little time with a pet, and hear this man’s lovely music.

  • Kat

    My pigeon of discontent is friends (and even family) who don’t return emails, specifically after they are the ones who initiated the conversation. Often they end the email with a “what’s new with you?” When I tell them, I get no response. However, if I don’t respond about myself and only address their issues, it’s remarkable how quickly they reply.

    How on earth does one address this without putting the other person on the defensive?

    I chaulk it up to the new, rude, shallow social media era. Actually, I am lucky to see an email anymore. Is it just me, or do I simply have the most self absorbed friends in the world?

    In general, I feel my friendships are seriously degrading. Gretchen, I have your book and have taken your advice for June, but frankly I’m tired of always having to be the one to reach out. It often results in canceled plans or no responses. These people are too busy with their facebook “friends” instead of their real ones. This is making me feel lonely and somewhat rejected, although I realize it’s probably not personal. HUGE pigeon, though!

    • Jane

      I think sometimes we outgrow previously precious relationships. There is no law that says these will always be in balance. Invest in the joyful not the joyless relationships.

      I think it is also true that it easy to be hard on others without knowing the full context for what is going on in their lives. I think of it this way: it is hard enough to set my own priorities. Thankfully I only need to set my own so I need to trust that those I hold dear (who are not there for me at the moment) are setting their priorities as best they can). If the relationship is worth it for them and I have reached out, then they may well come back to me when they have more space/time/energy or whatever.

      It is also important to ask for what you need. Do your friends know you do with a little support? Sometimes what is obvious to ourselves is not obvious to others.

      • Kat

        Sure, my friends might be there for me during a crisis. However, I’m not in crisis – just missing the normal interactions. I’m not even asking anyone to go to lunch. Maybe a response to an email might be acceptable to ask for, if it’s less than 125 characters…

        I wish it was as easy as separating the joyful from the joyless. I have already eliminated the joyless and am left with my four closest friends and one sibling. These are not toxic people – just thoughtless or self absorbed. All five are engrossed in facebook and eventually I succumbed to it myself, knowing it’s the only way I can keep these friendships going. That, in itself, disappoints me. We ALL lead busy lives. It’s worth noting again that they have time to write me when they need an ear, but when they ask how I’m doing, they don’t respond. Why does it take a crisis to keep a relationship going?

        You could say it’s time to move on and find new friends, and I suppose it is. However, these are my dearest friends since childhood. I’m an introvert, and even though I do make friends easily, I find that these acquaintances tend to drift away just as quickly. Loyalty is not the same with new friends. At my age and in this technological era, very few women make time for each other and value their friendships. At least, in my world. This applies even if they are divorced with adult children and don’t have the same commitments that a young mother does.

        In my experience, my relationships have deteriorated greatly since good ole FB. Even though I attempt to keep email alive (making sure to relay light, witty stories and no griping) I find the responses are few and far between – unless that person is in a crisis. Mass emails aren’t my style because I myself find them impersonal. As a recipient, I wouldn’t feel pressed to respond to one if it wasn’t addressed to me personally. And if I dumped every friend I outgrew, I would have no friends at all. I want the friendships I have – I just want them to remain as deep as they were before social media hit. Now these “friends” have become the focus of their time. Facebook is a big ole POD for me.

        Like other relationships, friendships have to be nurtured for them to stay alive. Just struggling with how to address this issue without sounding needy. Since I haven’t found a way to do this, and I have stopped going on FB, here I sit alone, writing on a blog. ha!

        • eroomtenaj

          Kat – you could be me. I sometimes say that I won’t have girlfriends who make the time until we’re all 80+ and kids have grown, husbands have passed, etc.! I hated the way FB made me feel, and got off of it over a year ago. What I try to do now, and it doesn’t always work, is make a phone call. The worst that happens is you get the answering machine, but I think it’s more “in your face” than email. Keep making suggestions – a walk, dinner, movie, museum.

        • I can understand how frustrating it is to not get replies. In a similar way, I rarely get comments on my blog, which really saps my impetus to post, but when I talk to people on the phone, they often mention that they enjoy reading my blog. I try to keep this in mind, but it’s hard. It may be that your emails are analogous. Your friends may be interested and enjoy reading them, but they may not feel like there’s a need to respond. An email is not a conversation in the same way that a phone call is, or if you were talking face-to-face. They may not feel like it’s needed to send an email back just to say, “That’s nice.” On the other hand, if you’re talking about them, they may feel like they need to clarify something in response to your comments, etc. The difference in replies doesn’t necessarily indicate a difference in amount of caring. Personally, I would recommend that you try to interact with them by phone or face to face, because these are methods that will encourage the type of interaction you need.

        • Anon

          Can I be honest, rather than hopeful and supportive? It sounds like they don’t like you.

          I don’t mean they actively don’t like you, just not enough to take time out of their day to care. We find time to do the things we want.

          I’m am busy. We all are. But I find the time to write back folks that I really want to maintain relationship with.

          If you’re dead set on being their friend, even if they may not want to be yours, call instead of email. First of all, it’s more personal. Folks feel more warm hearing a voice than getting an email. Second, even if you just leave a voicemail, there is something much more binding, in unspoken social rules, than email. I feel I have to give someone a call back. I don’t feel like I have to answer every email.

          Another suggestion if your bound to keep the relationships going would be to seek out experiences that interest them. Don’t just ask them to go shopping or to have dinner. If they are an art lover, ask them to a new opening. If they work in a certain field, see if any related conferences are coming to the area and offer to go with them.

          You might consider giving them some space, and also getting in some therapy. It sounds like you NEED them. And really, in all relationships, we know how offputting it is to be clung to.

    • JellyBean

      I agree with Jane that we can outgrow our friendships. I am feeling that way now and am actively looking for new friends.
      I had a cousin who didn’t respond to two separate e-mails asking her whether she would be available for me to drop off something that belonged to her when I was riding my bike (twice!) to her neighbourhood. At a family dinner some time later she was as friendly as ever. We talked about getting together and I asked “What is the best way of getting in touch with you, because it looks like e-mail isn’t working very well”. I felt very brave saying that but it cleared the air when we discussed it. For the longest time I had been thinking how rude she was so I’m really glad we sorted things out.

    • peninith1

      Dear Kat–I take time every Sunday to write an email newsletter to family and many friends. I include photos. I do my best to remember the most interesting and inspiring things that have happened during the week. I include my personal struggles, though I definitely am careful not to give ‘TMI’ . Recipients do get the ‘continuing story’ of a walking program, my quilt hobby, and other stuff. Most do not respond at all. Some few people reply every week, or check in occasionally. This summer, both my elderly mother, and my darling daughter in law, have suffered devastating and scary health events. You know what? Most of those people who ‘never’ reply let me know that they were thinking of me and praying for my sick relatives. And they all added that they ‘loved’ my newsletter, read it every week, and hoped I would keep sending it. You may not hear back from your friends and family, but I bet they are receiving and reading, and if you let them know of a true need, they will come up on the net and support you. I am still writing–I hope you do the same!

      • Pam

        I agree with peninith1. Friends are dear to me and I lowered my expectations of them and raised my expectations of myself. I am there if they need me and I usually initiate things to do together. People do read those emails and those cards. I also have to think the best of others. It makes me happier and it makes me see that my friends are not the ones who will make me whole. I have to find wholeness for myself. I also find that the more interesting I am, more people are interested in talking with me. So I do the things I like and learn new things and people respond. I meet new people too. My old friends from way back when are still friends and when we get a chance to talk, it is as if we were talking just yesterday. You know, it is hard work to train myself to think about those things that are good, uplifting, and praiseworthy. It is too easy to be critical and expect people to respond the way we want them to.

  • Cindy

    1) A five minute stretch break. Go from top down (neck, arms, hands, back, legs, feet). It feels great, it’s calming, and it’s good for me.
    2) 10 minutes up in my bedroom stretched out with my eyes closed after I get home from work.
    3) I give myself a foot rub. Mmmmm.
    4) I read a lot in little snippets of time (works best with less serious books).

  • Tootie

    When I need a pick-me-up, I love listening to fun songs on youtube. Quick and free! (The dancing is optional :))

  • Wow, fun. I think I enjoyed the comments as much as the post on this one! Treats… yesterday was my birthday, so tonight our treat is to go out to eat. That is a treat because it means no dishes and someone serves me! lol…

    Other treats… sitting out on the deck with my coffee, vacations on beaches, beaches in general, bonfires, camping, lunches with friends, lunch out of the office…

    Great post. Thanks for the lovely reminder!

  • Rose

    My treats include:
    Enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning
    Listening to favourite song (often on repeat)
    “Playing” with my makeup
    Watching a youtube channel or reading a blog (like this one)
    Cuddling with the Hubby
    Taking a nice hot shower

  • My little treat is taking a walk around the block. What’s better than a little fresh air! Can be done anywhere and shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.

  • Simple Beauty

    That’s a good pigeon of discontent to think about. I too am not a fan of the “go take a long bubble bath” idea. Maybe when my kids are grown and gone but for now, it just doesn’t sound like fun.

    Since you are so enthralled with scent, maybe spend some time finding a beautifully scented candle and light it when you’d like a treat. Or have a fancy hard candy or chocolate that is a sweet treat but without the caloric damage of a brownie. (Luscious fruit could serve the same purpose.) I am trying to keep my space more spare and cleared up and am much more inclined to use my “good” dishes/silver/glasses/placemats when it is nice and clean. That, to me, is a nice treat.

    I think this has a lot to do with what sense motivates you the most.

    I love the idea of a “hit” of scent or like the poster above said, a song to lift up your spirits.

  • JellyBean

    At work, reading this blog is a treat. I also read news sites for short breaks but there you only hear bad news. I appreciate this blog because the ideas are positive.
    My big weekly treat is leaving work before 5:30pm on Fri and going to an Aquafit class at my local rec center. By Fri evening I always feel like I either need a drink or a good workout, and the workout is the better choice! The loud music and bouncing around in the pool just makes me feel great. Endorphin therapy. Then I sit in the hot tub afterwards to relax and enjoy the jets on my back. I feel like I’m at a spa 🙂 And all this for just over $5.

  • The type of treat you are looking for is what I think of as my “grocery store” treats — things that are easy at hand, inexpensive, and usually provide the initial pleasure of buying something nice for myself, and then using it later. These would include things like: inexpensive flowers (esp. in winter!), a magazine, a scented self-care product (I love almond, lemon, and coconut soap or hand lotion), a colorful pen/art supplies, or a dessert treat like an almond tart or blueberry scone (I’m not a dessert person, so the rare time I do this is a treat for me, but maybe not so much for others).

    Then there are the “time” treats, things that don’t cost anything but involve spending a little time. Mine are listening to my music in the car (I do a lot of driving), eating out (I hate cooking, and even an inexpensive meal gives you precious time to talk with family or friends), or watching a new episode of a BBC mystery off of PBS.org or youtube. Some people might count reading here, but since books are an essential and not a treat, and I know you are a reader, I’ll leave them out. 🙂

    A new treat that I enjoy is feeding the birds. I love seeing the bright yellow goldfinches or cardinals at the feeder — they are so graceful and a reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment. Filling the feeder only takes a minute or two every so many days, but my husband, cats, and I enjoy seeing who will show up next, and I love to identify the new-to-me birds with my bird book. I am waiting for my first Baltimore oriole to show up. I think you live in an apartment, so if this was something you were interested in, you could get the feeders that have suction cups that stick to your outside windows. I do not know if bluebirds would feed so close to the windows, but other species do.

  • Sometimes I just go and sit outside. (Can you do this in a NY apartment?). We live in the desert SW and planted grass in our small side yard. A bit extravagant here but we have a dog and a 4 year old so feel it is worth it. It is on the West side of the house so gets lots of shade. I have a rocking chair over there and sometimes I just go and sit. I look at the sky, trees, clouds, stars, sunset, whatever is going on that time of day. But it can be a lovely time out, even if it is just a few minutes. I stop everything and simply breath and observe.

  • Alysa Stewart

    One of my favorite treats for a time was looking through a diffraction grating. Diffraction gratings split light into its constituent colors. In college my professor gave us each a small one to keep. I used to carry mine in my pocket all the time and look through it when I needed a pick-me-up. I called it my pocket rainbow.

    Sometimes, I like to wear a fun piece of jewelry. I once had a bracelet that was all kinds of sequins and bright colors. It had been left at the dorm where I worked. I loved it so much that I knew someone was missing it, so I kept it in the window all the time and would only wear it when I was on-duty for work, so that if anyone was looking for it they could find it. No one ever claimed it, and at the end of the year my coworkers gave it to me. Anyway, I could only wear it at certain times and that made it special. Also, I had a pair of purple plastic butterfly earrings that I wore when I felt like a rebel. They weren’t actually very rebellious.

  • Janine

    I live in Chicago and am a member of the Art Institute. It’s open late on Thursdays, free to members, and about half way home on my bus commute. Even a 20-minute stroll though the galleries rejuvenates me.

    • Anne

      When I lived in Chicago, I loved the Art Institute. Do you ever visit the Thorne Rooms?

  • fireflyeyes

    I do love long bubble baths, especially with a glass of wine or an episode of my favorite TV show on netflix. I also have a special tea my husband got me that I don’t drink everyday – I have it as a treat once every couple of weeks. Painting my toenails is a good treat, especially if they are looking ragged it’s a real pick-me-up to add a splash of color and get them looking nice (I always paint my toes bright colors, things I would never put on my fingernails. Going to the library for a new book or DVD is also a treat, or to the yarn store for supplies for a new project. And I know it shouldn’t be food, but a box of grocery store sushi and some coconut water always makes for a nice lunch when I’m down.

  • julie

    This is a great question and thread. I love planning my next vacation (some people hate this, but I just adore the anticipation!). When I’m in the need of a quick hit, I will do a little research on my next destination – google “vancouver restaurant reviews” or “paris free museum passes” – it’s just enough to get me on a good mental playing field.

    I also really enjoy a nice cup of tea, or walking my dog along the river in NYC, listening to my favorite podcast (This American Life…I look forward to it every week).

  • loose leaf tea in little tins, art supplies (little tubes and bottles of watercolor paint, origami paper, rolls of decorative tape), beautiful scented soap, magazine subscriptions (love getting mail that I don’t have to return!), pens

  • Emilia

    My little treat is buying a coffee outside and sitting down to drink it. It takes some time, but rarely that much. I love being able to sit, relax and enjoy the day. Sometimes I’ll read or write while having my coffee, but if I’m not feeling up to that, just observing the world around me is enough!

  • Jane

    Little treats: a goof cup of coffee, my husband brings me a cup of tea in bed every morning, cuddles with the kids, the dog sitting on my feet, some songs (which one is mood dependant but I have a play list to help make a short list).

  • When my daughter was in fourth grade, her teacher had each one in the class create a “me” book, a little notebook with pictures of themselves, and cut out pictures of things that they like to see, touch or do. I thought it was a great idea, so I have a “me” book, in which I have pasted pictures of scenes, things, or phrases that resonate with me. Sometimes I treat myself to a few minutes just looking through, sometimes I add a few things. I am amazed that over the 15 years since I started this book, that there is not one thing in it that I would now like to edit out. Trends, fashions and styles come and go, but those things that resonate with my soul are constant.

  • Anne

    I live in a lovely place (San Juan Island), so one of my favorite treats is just looking out the window or going outside. Or I may go into town and just walk around, saying hi to people I know and enjoying the place.

    Indoors, it’s good coffee, good books, and petting my cat. And jigsaw puzzles on my iPad. I get photos from Flickr for the puzzles, so there are thousands to choose from. And music, if I need a lift, especially for doing housework.

  • Carmelo

    My wife has a stack of greeting cards and small decals or stickers that she can decorate them with. She gets a kick out of sending them to whomever she wants to cheer up. When I want to treat myself, I’ll hide a fiver where I know a family member or friend or even a stranger will find it. This little anonymous giving is really quite a rush when you put your heart into it!

    Now, this next one probably won’t help you Gretchen. Several times during the day I’ll go out to my backyard Koi Pond and feed the fish. They’re exquisitely beautiful and love to see me coming with food. Very relaxing and enjoyable. Once again, the feeling of giving, I suppose? In no time I’m smiling ear to ear.

    Shall I build you an in ground pond? Or are you just not into fish??


    • Eileen

      Love hiding the fiver idea!

      • Carmelo

        Yes! Just thinking about how you’re going to do it and who might find it and how they’ll be surprised really makes you feel good.

    • Ruth

      A variation on the greeting card idea: I find that when I’m feeling unnoticed and unloved (even though I might intellectually know that I’m not), I like to think of Gretchen’s commandment to “spend out,” and I’ll send cards or thinking of you emails to some of the people I love best. It’s amazing to me how much that will brighten up my mood. (And probably theirs too!)

      • Carmelo

        Just imagining their reaction is partly why it feels so good at the moment you’re doing it. If they thank you later, that’s a bonus!

  • It’s fascinating that answering this question is so hard!

    To riff off your scent idea perhaps there could be ‘treats’ for the other senses.
    Sight- beautiful photo or art
    Touch- super soft clothes or socks
    Sounds- compelling music
    Though there would still be a cost of figuring out which pictures, clothes, or music you like for a treat ahead of time.

    Also, a more abstract treat could be a thought that feels hopeful, joyful, loving, etc.

    • It amazes how difficult this question is to answer too! Maybe that is a bad sign. Maybe this means we need to plan more small treats!! 🙂

  • Theresa

    Most of my treats are spontaneous. The sound of rain on the windows in the middle of this horrible drought the MIdwest is experiencing, sunshine, seeing the surprise of the pretty flowers in our yard (we purchased our home this past December and didn’t know what type of flowers were planted), kids laughing, the sound of silence, snuggling with my husband, getting an unexpected kick from my unborn baby (first time momma here).

  • Jannine

    One of my treats is getting good grapefruit hand soap and hand lotion. Another one is splurging on a good coffee. Setting time aside to cook a recipe from Cooks magazine and reading this blog.

  • Amy H.

    Some of mine:
    Buying a new color of nail polish;
    Buying a magazine I don’t subscribe to — sometimes in French or Spanish just to try to practice!
    Mrs. Meyers’ Honeysuckle Hand Soap;
    Listening to a favorite classical recording all the way through, or just listening to the Blues station on XM;
    Really, really good-smelling moisturizer (I love Nivea Visage, which is no longer sold in the U.S., so I have to ask friends traveling abroad to bring some back for me); and
    Going for a walk down at Crissy Field to see the Golden Gate Bridge. . . .

  • Debora

    I love watching music video’s with the volume up high, with headphones on
    In stead of reading a whole book, I read short stories. I to love to read but find that picking up a book quickly eats the whole evening away from me. A short story I can read in about 30 to 45 minutes.
    And I love to dream up what I’ll do with the money I’ll get when I win the lottery jackpot.

  • My little treat these days, believe it or not is grocery shopping alone. Our son, an only child, is now at the age that he can be alone for up to 2 hours… And he loves having some new found responsiblity and “freedom” and I DO TOO! Just knowing I can walk the aisles slowly… Linger over my stash of coupons…plan next week’s menu and plan out deals… It is like a deep sigh and almost relaxing for an hour once a week. It gives me time to get in my own head as well. Then, I am blessed to come home to a very HAPPY kid that takes pride in being “grown”, getting his chores done, on his own with out “mom, looking over his shoulder” .. It makes for a happier way to finish out the day!

  • Kat

    Like you asked, Gretchen, I am trying to think of treats that take very little time or money. This is hard! Most of mine do involve some cost, a bath, or food!

    Every morning I start my day with a good cup of coffee. Grind my own beans and brew. Since these daily treats can be taken for granted, I use a french press for a splurge. On Sunday mornings, I’ll treat myself to a mimosa in a champagne glass. (Again, food. But not too much of an indulgence!) Using your best dishes and glasses is key.

    Along with my coffee, I read your blog and Positively Positive. Then a book of daily meditations such as the Book of Awareness or an oldie but a goodie, Simple Abundance. Something inspiring that can be read in less than 15 min.

    Taking the time to take my coffee outside to watch the critters. Squirrels gathering nuts. Butterflies flitting about. Listening to the birds sing. It makes me smile, to watch their antics. Nothing makes me happier than watching birds splish splash around in the bird bath. And I’m actually moved to tears when I watch our cardinal daddy feed his lady and babies. No matter how many times I see this, it never gets old. Catching gimpse of a rare and elusive hummingbird. It all takes very little time, and makes me happy.

    If I have a little more time, I’ll take a walk or ride my bike around the neighborhood. A dip in the pool after gardening. Classical music while cooking, and a pretty wine glass filled with fizzy Pelligrino and a slice of orange or lemon. Scented candles – especially lemon verbena. Since you like to experiement with scents, if candles aren’t practical for you with kids around, try scented hand soaps, dishwashing soaps lotions, or incense. I love Williams Sonoma meyer lemon soap/incense collection. 

  • Tess

    I have 2 special treats for myself. One is to tuck a favorite scent in a sachet between my pillow cases and sheets after they are freshly laundered. I slip the scent between the cases, layer the sheets on top and store them in a plastic bag in my linen drawer. When I change the sheets and rest my head on the pillow at night I breathe in that favorite scent. It lasts for a few days and I just love it.
    Second treat for myself: new stationary. I love buying it and using it. My friends joke that I am single-handedly supporting the US Postal Service!!!

  • eroomtenaj

    Something Lisa Marie Presley does (it was in the USA Weekend magazine on Sunday), and I do too – get crayons and a coloring book and color away!

  • ani

    I read through old emails that I loved. Sometimes ones I wrote, sometimes ones that were written to me. In gmail you can label messages and I label the ones that were important to me, or that were special, and if I need a pick-me-up, I’ll pick out a few and read them. I suppose it’s a modern version of saving letters…. I also love looking through my own photo albums and scrap books, especially the ones from when I’ve been travelling.

  • Eileen

    Little treats:
    Flip through a photo album.
    View and touch my collectible shelf (won’t declutter it so might as well enjoy it)
    Watch one of my favorite song videos.
    Step outside and view my small garden featuring a couple of rose bushes and a grape vine.
    Look up to the clouds or the stars or the moon.
    Crunch through the leaves on the sidewalk.
    Re-read an old letter.

  • Marla

    Okay… I might get flack for this one, but I’m just trying to be honest 🙂 If I am stressed out, or about to have to do something that I know I’m not gonna want to do, I have ONE (and only one) drink. For example, yesterday I had a dentist appointment that I didn’t want to go to (partial crown) and I had a drink before I went. I was WAY more calm than I normally am about those things, and the appointment went much more pleasantly than a typical dentist appointment. This tip obviously comes with caveats… if you are having issues with alcohol then definitely not a good treat… and I don’t do this EVERY time I am stressed, just sometimes. And, probably not a good idea to do it before, say, a job interview or something 🙂 Basically, if you feel uncomfortable doing it, or people are telling you you have a problem, don’t do it…. but it works for me.

    Another thing I do is, I will go out to a store that I like and buy myself something that I need. For example, I like decorating my house, and I’m in the midst of redecorating my kitchen. I have plans around what I need to do in there. For example, I need to pick up a little tray for a shelf. So, I’ll go to one of the home stores I like (West Elm, Crate and Barrel, etc) and look around in the store, and buy the tray that I like best. Then I will come home and have fun fitting it into the kitchen. It’s important to actually go to a physical store… just buying it online doesn’t cheer me up. Actually getting out and looking at all the pretty things in the store, then buying a small piece and improving my home just a tiny bit, that is what does it. Typically it only takes around an hour of time, and costs very little money.

    I like your idea about the perfume and saving it for when you need a boost… I might try that. Thank you for your blog and writing your wonderful book! I am planning on pre-ordering “Happier at Home” because I just loved the Happiness Project so much!

  • KP

    I like the idea of a list of small treats — I keep a small notepad and jot them down as they come to me. Just like being in the video store when you can’t remember all the movies you have been wanting to see or in the bookstore and your mind goes blank, in those small moments it is difficult to recall a small quick treat. In making my list, I tried to stay away from “treats” that have a downside (glass of wine, new pair of shoes) or require anything elaborate. Several of my standbys are: (1) resting my cheek against my son’s hair (he’s 9, so this one won’t be available much longer); (2) looking at photo albums on my iPhone; (3) cup of coffee and the NY Post (guilty pleasure); (3) sitting eyes closed, with my face up to the sun; (4) playing a video game (I’m a 40+ mother and lawyer, but I love my Wii!); (5) drawing on a dry erase board.

  • Petra

    The following might be something for your als well, Gretchen, since you seem to love quotes. I keep a jar with little slips of paper each containing a quote I love. When I come around new quotes I try to remember to add them to the jar. When I think I need a little thought that lifts me up I randomly pick a slip of paper from the jar. Sometimes it’s a great fit.

    I can also image this to be done with quotes from your kids, or a box full of old valentines or birthday cards …

    Here’s a few more tip:

    – wear your favourite shoes

    – put on a beautiful dress just because

    – take a photograph that captures your mood

    – use a special piece of china and make a cup of tea

  • gs

    One of my little treats is a direct result of this blog: reading entries in my “one-sentence” journal. I started keeping the journal in 2007. It is not actually “one sentence per day” because once I start typing, I tend to go on and on.It is also not all positive; it is not just about the great/funny/beautiful things that happened that day. There is a lot in there about my regrets, struggles, disappointments, etc. But I love to read a random section from some past year, and even if the section I pick has dark thoughts and moments, it makes me happy to see that I got through it and survived.

  • I like to drive to a different part of town and try a new cafe. I tend to get into ruts, always going to the same places and ordering the same things. When I’m in need of a treat, I take the time to explore a new neighborhood. I never order anything more extravagant than some tea and a pastry, but it always cheers me up.

  • Courtney

    Dance with my kids. All I have to do is turn on some music and they’ll drop everything to jam with me. It’s impossible to be bummy after a few seconds of dancing with a preschooler and a toddler!

  • FinninMinn

    I enjoy jigsaw puzzles but rarely have the time or table space for a full sized one. I discovered jigzone.com, where I can get a little 10 minute or so dose of puzzling.

  • Chris

    When you are a visual person: Browsing books on Design and Art. When I come home from work in the evening, I am stressed out and in a bad mood. But I only need about ten minutes with a book on, say, Art Nouveau or interior design and the look of these beautifully crafted objects and furnitures soothes me. I am curious if there is anyone else out there who enjoys this kind of visual treats or is it just me?!

    • gretchenrubin

      What a terrific idea. My library has a gorgeous collection of art books. I’m going to try this.

  • Sabine

    Listening to an audiobook while looking at the lovely pictures at houzz.com works its charm every time for me… Seeing those pics of wonderful homes then makes me tidy up and clean my home and that even feels like a treat then while doing it and
    after! 🙂 And I keep listening to the audiobook while cleaning, this way it is done in what feels like no time at all. Sometimes it makes me clean longer and more, because I want to know what´s going to happen in the story next…

  • Scents are my little treats, whether they come from candles, incense, plug-ins, or baking. Especially pumpkin flavors in the fall. If you don’t have time for a bubble bath, maybe you could treat yourself to a scent that brings you back to a happy time in your life. Pumpkin scents take me back to having pumpkin pie with family and carving pumpkins with my granddad.

  • Ginger

    These jars from Etsy seller DayJarView are filled with quotes. You could pull one out every so often. http://www.etsy.com/shop/kfrost1 There are humor jars, word of the day jars, inspirational, etc.
    A Bill Bryson book. Makes me laugh out loud.
    Christmas music. Any time of year (I feel like I’m doing something sneaky and it always makes me feel warm and happy.)

  • Ruth

    I laughed out loud about the bubble bath! That’s me all over! People say, “oh, go take a long soak in a bubble bath with candles.” UGH. No, thank you VERY much. I’d rather go outside and sit on the porch. There is a parks department paved trail across the street from our house, and I like to sit on the porch and watch the people go by. I also have bird feeders and like to watch the birds, especially the finches and hummingbirds. One of my other treats is to take time to make something that takes a little extra time – like lasagna. I did that this weekend, and it was so much FUN, mainly because I didn’t have to rush through the process, which doesn’t happen very often.

  • Georgia

    Listening to a comedy routine. Putting on lotion. Doing a crossword or Sudoku puzzle.

  • Kristin

    Taking five minutes to use a great smelling hand scrub (I have one from Bath & Body Works that is a sweet grapefruit scent) and a good hand cream to pamper your hands and wrists. While rubbing in the cream, massage the muscles in your hands and up each finger. You can fine reflexology illustrations online to use too. It is relaxing and feels good, especially when you are at a computer all day.

  • Megan

    Hi Gretchen! I’m really enjoying going through your video archives (another small treat for me!)
    Did no one else answer this? I’ll be the first then! Something I enjoy doing is flipping through decorating or home style books. My home doesn’t look like the ones in any of these books, and maybe that’s why I enjoy them so much. I don’t necessarily read them, just sit for a bit and flip through the pages. I don’t actually own any books like this, but I like to get a few of them from the library, and then keep them near the couch, so I can plop down for a few minutes and lose myself in other people’s lovely homes. Small little treat for me, free, and takes just a few minutes (or longer if I have time). I’ll also add that it’s not the same as looking at decorating sites on the internet… there’s something about holding the book, and hearing the sound of the pages turning, and even (though it may sound gross) the smell of the library books, which have a very distinct smell (there’s one for CB I Hate Perfume). 🙂

    • Megan

      HA! It actually is a CB scent, sort of. After posting this, I googled it and “In the Library” is a CB I Hate Perfume scent, described as “leather binding” and “wood polish”, among other things. I’m not sure it would be the same as an actual library book, which when really whiffed is more like strong glue, and maybe saliva (from finger licking page turners). But anyway, close enough. 🙂

  • Grainne

    1. Painting my toenails in vibrant summery colours, in the dead of winter when no one else will see them. The process of painting them isn’t the treat, it’s the little burst of colour when you’re getting changed that lifts my mood. Bonus because they won’t be as visible in winter it doesn’t have to you best paint job so you can get it done more quickly.
    2. Shopping in charity shops or little junk shops for unusual treasures, trinkets or books (sometimes chosen for how they look or their pictures than their content). Picking up a small trinket to add to holiday/seasonal decorations that will be fairly unique to my home.
    3. A pretty embroidered handkerchief.
    4. An occasional “guilty pleasure” TV programme that teaches me nothing and is purely narcissistic “reality” or junky sitcom-stupidity
    5. Applying a really good handcream (removing my rings being important steps to this treat)
    6. Allowing myself a stroll through rabbit holes on the internet to find new blogs. Yours only recently discovered – I must live under a rock – hat/tip to Jennifer Fulwiller (Conversion Diary) – I’ve ordered The Happiness Project and am eagerly awaiting it.
    7. Listening to a Christmas song, most any time of year
    8. Singing or dancing badly (and hoping no one will see beyone my two year old

    • gretchenrubin

      What a great list!