The importance of a little treat in everyday life

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

“A little treat” is an oft-heard term. Completing a difficult task? Get yourself a little treat. Having a bad day? Acquisition of little treats must be immediate. No reason whatsoever? You guessed it — little treat. A good day? You guessed it — another little treat.

While it started off as an internet fad, a joke even, for many, the little treat has become a fact of life. In a progressively more distressing world, the chance to take a break, as little as it may be, is invaluable. It can be the difference between success and failure, or happiness and sadness in life. 

To most people, a little treat is a small monetary splurge for an item or food that you don’t really need, but you would enjoy. It could look like buying a slightly overpriced coffee while out on errands or buying yourself something you have wanted for awhile, but don’t need. 

The defining factor of the little treat is that it is something that you don’t need; it just makes you feel better.

From a more negative lens, a little treat just seems like an excuse to not exercise self-control and waste money. However, it is the very irresponsibility it represents that makes it such a rich experience. 

In a progressively punishing and fast-paced world, it is hard to pinpoint the last time you did something that you would enjoy in the moment, just for the sake of your own happiness. 

The very nature of a capitalist society creates a world where we are told to work constantly. We are cogs in a system that could run without us, but without which we could not run. Without little treats and other little sources of pleasure, we would have no break from the drone of working life.

This is true especially since with  such a vast marketplace, every purchase becomes a complex series of decisions and a task on its own. 

Even something as simple as purchasing a plain white t-shirt suddenly brings with it a multitude of choices: which brand is the best, how long will it last, does this match my closet, etc. Everything becomes complicated and can be highly stress-inducing. 

The beauty of a little treat is that there is none of this forethought. You walk into a coffee shop and a store, and you point at what you want just because you want it right then and there. In that moment, you are able to convert free-will to actions — to act on desires. 

It is not like the pressure of taking on a hobby, where you have to choose one, find items for it, spend money on supplies and invest time.

The little treat is the simple reprieve. After a long day of work, you buy a little tub of ice cream from the local ice cream parlor. Maybe it means sitting in a cafe and reading an exciting book or scrolling through social media. 

However, like the name may suggest, it must be little. Buying expensive things outside of your budget or racking up a lot of small buys destroys the point of it. If we lived our life solely to satiate our desires in the moment, it would be immensely difficult to build a future. However, in the same way, if we live our life forever building the future, we may find ourselves never truly getting to enjoy it. 

The sweet treat allows us to live in the moment. It is representative of the “escape.” It gives us the unique feeling of freedom, something we are robbed of by the very nature of society and our pursuits within it. Those of us who belittle the sweet treat think of it as a childish practice. 

“Why waste time going and buying something that you don’t need and that won’t change the amount of stress you have?” they might ask. 

In truth, the little treat does not change anything. It does not alleviate stress or lessen the amount of work you have at work — in fact, it may even be a means of procrastination or avoiding important work. However, it allows a brief fantasy for sweet treat-pursuers. 

There is no work. There is no stress. There is no boss breathing over your shoulder. There is no frustrating coworker. There is no doctor’s appointment you’ve been avoiding making. There is no exam coming up. It is just you and the sweet treat. A little source of light in the dark world surrounding us all constantly. 

What constitutes a little treat? An overpriced coffee from a local coffee shop, a croissant or any other pastry, a snack at the local grocery store or gas station, a bag of chips, a chocolate bar, a soda or fountain drink, ice cream (sorbet counts too!), boba, a book you’ve been eyeing, a fifty-coin pack (for mobile game-players), the admission fee for a cat cafe and much, much more! What does not constitute a sweet treat? A new car, a new laptop, doing office work at said cafe, doing homework after buying a coffee, a whole restaurant meal (go for it, but it is not a little treat), working from home instead of going in person, going on a road trip and other activities or purchases that simply do not count.