I am one of those people that can’t get enough of fresh flowers. For three dollars at Trader Joe’s, it’s a minimal investment for the amount of enjoyment they give me. And, at the tail end of February when our new city is wet, cold and monochromatic, there is nothing I could purchase (with the exception of tickets to Hawaii) that simultaneously cheers me up and reminds me that spring is just around the corner. I swear, I set them up on the kitchen table and I can’t count the number of times I catch myself staring off into space in their general direction.
It’s not just the colors though; the names of flowers also cheer me up. The ones in the picture above are called Snapdragons. Just stop and appreciate that name for a second. Snapdragon: it reminds me of fireworks, summer, barbecues, blue skies – basically all things not winter. On a daily basis, those flowers are a mini-happiness multivitamin.
When I’m not paying attention, it’s easy to dismiss the importance of the small joy I get from having those flowers. Instead, I tend to focus on how happy I’ll be when we can finally go on that two-week vacation or buy that coffee table. Leaving aside the fact that science has proven people are happier spending money on experiences – going on a trip, buying a new bike, going out to dinner – rather than things, I’ve found that the big happy moments often come with a mental price tag that the little ones don’t.
For example, going on vacation is wonderful. I absolutely love planning, traveling to new places, eating delicious food and spending extra time with my family and friends. When Josh and I went to New Orleans last summer as part of our honeymoon, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. We stayed in the French Quarter, went on ghost tours, history tours, bought art and ate enough beignets to sustain a powdered sugar factory. At the end though, we were exhausted and ready to go back to our cat and Boston life. There was a recovery-readjustment period there that is not present when I’m enjoying small happy moments throughout my day.
It’s not that the giant happiness of a vacation isn’t worth the fatigue – I know we would go back to New Orleans in a heartbeat! – just that the small happiness boost I get from buying flowers may be, in the long run, just as important as that longed-for trip to Hawaii.
What I’m trying to say, and maybe failing at, is that I’m realizing more and more that being kind to myself in tiny, fulfilling ways is just as vital for my health, mentally and physically, as the big happy moments are. And, if I look at it that way, three dollars for flowers is an even better deal than I thought.