Years ago, when I was single -- I'd say young and carefree, except I wasn't quite that young, and I'm not sure I was ever carefree -- I went out to dinner with a girlfriend. It was a fairly skimpy meal as I recall, and we were deep in a conversation (probably about work ... we hardly ever discussed men; just our crummy jobs), so I suggested we go back to my place where we could continue to bitch and at the same time have ice cream to supplement our small but pricey dinner.
When I took out the carton of gelato, my friend was rather astonished.
"Were you expecting company?" she asked when she saw the container of very premium ice cream.
"No," I answered. "It's just a little pint of my favorite flavor."
"I can't believe you would buy something like that for just yourself," she said.
And I smiled.
Because I had learned that lesson long before.
When I was a kid, I knew a lovely old woman who was part of our extended family. Rachel had been widowed for many years. And when I was a teenager, I remember a conversation with her that made a lasting impression. It was one of those small moments that changes your life and you recognize immediately that it is changing your life. I can't recall what sparked this serious discussion between a young girl and an 80-year-old woman, but we were talking about happiness and loneliness.
Rachel said that the secret to happiness was being nice to yourself. "I've lived alone a very long time," she said. "So I take extra care to be kind to myself. Who else is responsible for making sure I have a good life?" she said. "I often have no company for days on end. So I treat myself like company every day."
In that moment, I understood.
I see too many people who don't treat themselves well.
Who don't think they are worth the good ice cream.
Here are five things you can do right now to treat yourself like company.
1. You deserve to live in a clean house. When company is coming over you always pick up, right? Well, clean the house for yourself. You deserve a nice environment. You deserve a shiny bathroom. You deserve clean sheets when you go to bed at night. A fresh-smelling refrigerator. A clean house is a gift you give yourself.
2. You deserve to dress well. Remember the last time you got all dressed up, and felt wonderful about yourself? You can do that every day. I don't necessarily mean a fancy outfit or an expensive necklace. Just this: When you do shop, buy only what you love. Even if it is a sweatshirt -- which I hope it isn't -- but if it is, at least buy one that you LOVE. Too many times I see people shopping whose attitude seems to be 'good enough.' As if they don't believe they are worth the time or energy needed to find something that fits well, compliments them and -- most importantly -- makes them happy. Hold out for something that thrills you. Soon you'll have a wardrobe (even if it is a small one) composed entirely of clothes you love. And so you'll be wearing something you love every day. Think about how good that would make you feel.
3. You deserve to use your good stuff. Do you have your grandma's silver? Some beautiful wine glasses that were a wedding present? Some candles with a heavenly aroma that you never use? USE THEM. Drive that vintage Mustang to the post office. Take out your good china tonight. Light those candles. Treat yourself like company.
4. You deserve to love what you do. Hardly any of us are lucky enough to make a living doing what we love. If you are one of those few -- wow. But most of us have to buy groceries and pay the rent by keeping our boring or maybe even awful jobs. That's just a fact of life. As my mother used to say, "Welcome to adulthood." But on the other hand, that lousy job is eight hours a day, and you probably need to sleep eight hours too. But that still leaves another eight hours. Every day. Could you fill ONE of them with something you love? Reading, swimming, baking muffins, playing with the dog. You deserve to spend some time with a smile on your face. And what if it turned out that you could do that for TWO hours a day? Double wow.
And while I am on the subject of doing what you love:
5. You deserve to be unashamed of what you love. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." I recently overheard someone ridicule a friend for reading a romance novel. And the romance-lover was embarrassed and actually apologized for her poor taste in reading material. How I wish she had said, "I LOVE this book!" What do you love? Star Trek conventions? Dolly Parton music? Making paper airplanes? Knitting little sweaters for your hamster? You are lucky to have found something that gives you such pleasure. Be proud of it.
You deserve it.
You are worth the good ice cream.
Read more from Nancy at her blog, "Not Quite Old."