Treat yo self! That’s the wisdom passed to us from a couple of the more hedonistic characters in the comedy show Parks & Recreation. The word to look out for there is “hedonistic”, which refers to someone or something that is devoted to pleasure. This word – and, indeed, the entire concept of treating yourself – is usually deployed quite cynically. Doing something that has the explicit purpose of making you feel good is something that has a bit of a bad reputation. To treat yourself is seen as greedy and selfish.
A different perspective
Here’s the thing: treating yourself can help others, too. This might sound confusing, or even contradictory, but it really isn’t. If you’re not at a certain level of contentment, you may develop negativity – and that negativity can spread to others faster than you might think. Long-term dissatisfaction has a habit of manifesting in some pretty unpleasant ways. Being positive, working hard, and helping others without helping yourself all costs a lot of energy and focus. If you don’t take time out for yourself, it’s going to affect your ability to make others feel better. Treating yourself helps you cultivate a positive outlook and attitude which can spread to other people.
You may see that as a fairly roundabout way of justifying the occasional treat. But it’s true, right?
Besides, treating yourself may actually mean directly treating other people. Some people get a genuine kick out of doing nice things for others. This is something that’s true for most of us – when we do something that helps someone else or makes them smile, it makes us feel good. In a way, doing this is also treating ourselves. Whether it’s something as simple as sending someone personalized chocolates or something more demanding like volunteer work, a positive ‘treat’ effect can be felt. We’re going to look into that a little later in the article. For now, we’re going to look at a way of treating yourself that some may feel is a little boring – taking care of your health.
Treat yo self – take care of yo-health
A lot of us seem to see taking care of our health as something that’s boring, unpleasant, punishing, grueling. It’s an oddity of human beings, really, considering that exercise and a good diet is really one of the best ways in which we can treat ourselves. After all, it helps us maintain good moods and helps us increase our longevity. If you could bestow those things to other people, then you’d probably be seen as the coolest, nicest person ever – so why not bestow it upon yourself?
After just a couple of weeks focused on healthier living, you’ll feel the positive effects on your mood and general outlook. So be kind to yourself by getting more exercise, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep. Sleep often feels like a treat that we shouldn’t indulge in too much. While frequent lie-ins aren’t really good for you in the long run, you certainly shouldn’t have a mindset that says five or six hours of sleep a night will help you be more productive. Treating yourself to a couple more hours sleep may have really big benefits!
Treating yourself to the occasional sweet thing can actually help you maintain a good diet, too. By treating yourself to, say, an ice cream or some chocolate when you’ve achieved a dietary goal, you can actually do wonders for your overall motivation. You should try to keep those treats as healthy as possible, though – consider the fact that chocolate can be really good for you if the cocoa content is high!
The magic of helping others
A lot of us want to do more to help our fellow human beings. We say to ourselves that we’ll start really focussing on it when we have more time or more money. Some of us simply satisfy ourselves by convincing ourselves that we’ll do something good when the opportunity comes. If a homeless person asks for change, we’ll hand some over. If someone is in distress, we’ll go over and help. But how often do these opportunities really enter our lives? When do we really get the chance to do that right and the heroic thing that we’re always thinking about? The truth is that the opportunities rarely fall into our laps.
If you want to help others, it’s best to be proactive about it.
Volunteer work might not sound like much of a treat for yourself. When we think of the treat yo-self approach, we think about big shopping trips; expensive purchases of things we don’t really need but that might make us pretty happy, at least in the short-term. But volunteering is a life experience – and studies have shown that introducing more positive experiences and memories into our lives can make us much happier in the long term than any material possessions bought for their immediate rushes of pleasure.
In fact, there are studies out there that have shown these effects as they relate directly to volunteering. According to the UnitedHealth Group, a study of several volunteers showed that 94% of volunteers felt happier in the long-term versus their outlook before volunteering. Nearly 100% of them said that they felt they had more purpose in life and impact on the world – something that really helps when it comes to boosting mood! And what is treating yourself if not a means of boosting your mood?
When people talk about selfless actions, they often forget that those doing those actions aren’t being entirely selfless. This is often painted as a cynical, pessimistic take on human nature. But this simply means that people would feel bad if they didn’t do anything to help others – and it’s thought that these feelings are very widespread. We like to help each other. So perhaps by getting into volunteering, you’ll really be treating yourself.
Don’t feel guilty
Is there such a thing as taking the treat yo-self attitude a little too far? Of course. But, contrary to what many people seem to think, there is such a thing as not treating yourself enough. Whether it’s helping those in need, or buying yourself a treat, or even making sure you get some me time every so often, these treats are really essential for ourselves and, perhaps, society at large.