Buy the flowers

Happy book birthday to my third book Don’t Overthink It, which came out two years ago today—after several years of contemplation, and right on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In some ways, it was the worst possible timing for a book release. But in other ways, it was perfect. Going into the coronavirus-fueled chaos and confusion of spring 2020 (and summer, and fall, and up to this very minute), I was and am so grateful that I had spent the previous years learning and writing about strategies to avoid overthinking, and glad to be able to offer the book as a resource to so many, right when they needed it.

Today, to mark this anniversary, I’m sharing this post, originally published in early 2020, that highlights one of my favorite sections of the book. But more than that—if I hadn’t written about this core idea of simple abundance here on the blog many times before, I don’t think there would even be a book called Don’t Overthink It. It was that important to the book’s development.

I hope this reminder to buy the flowers—or whatever the happy equivalent is for you—finds you well, and in a place where you’re overthinking less than you were two years ago. If you haven’t yet read the book, I hope you enjoy this taste of its contents.

Happy reading, friends! Thanks so much for your support of my work, and your support of this book through two tough years.

***** ***** *****

See that photo above? It’s a $1.49 daffodil bouquet from Trader Joe’s, but this photo means something to me because of all the history behind it. That photo is important to me because of what you don’t see: the mindset shift that enabled me to stop denying myself the things that don’t cost much but make me very, very happy. The shift that finally let me actually BUY THE FLOWERS.

There was a time when I would never buy myself flowers, just because, unless I really “needed” them. (And by my definition, I would never need them.) It’s not that I couldn’t afford a $4 bouquet, it’s that whenever I thought about making a purchase like this, my inner critic would pipe up to say, Is this really necessary?

I hate that this inner policing is something with which many people—especially women—continue to struggle.

Buy The Flowers

I have a book coming out called Don’t Overthink It. What I’ve learned is that we know overthinking pulls our thoughts in unhelpful directions, as we pursue threads of worry, remorse, or regret. But we may not realize that overthinking also prevents us from welcoming good things into our lives. We think our way out of happiness, over and over. We cut ourselves off from life’s small pleasures, talking ourselves out of potentially good things and wasting a lot of mental energy in the process.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can treat ourselves gently, and with kindness. We can give ourselves permission to enjoy something that exceeds the minimum we need to get by. We can appreciate the good things in front of us without feeling guilty about them.

Buy the flowers

Readers, I shared these thoughts on Instagram last week, and asked readers to answer the question, What small things bring YOU joy? What are the things that don’t cost much—sometimes don’t even cost anything—but deliver an outsized amount of happiness.

For me, that means buying the grocery store flowers. I pay a little more for pens that are a pleasure to write with. When I’m feeling really indulgent, I pay extra for guacamole.

I loved reading your answers. (Talk about a little thing that brings me great happiness!) Some of the things you mentioned on Instagram were:

  • An afternoon cup of coffee or tea
  • Local honey for tea
  • Souvenir bookmarks
  • Hot epsom salt soaks
  • Good pens
  • Woodwick candles
  • Eating off the “good” plates
  • Spending extra for decent toilet paper
  • “Fancy” yogurt
  • Cooking magazines

Here are a few comments that made me smile, in readers’ own words:

• “Last time I bought flowers, I bought two bouquets. Then I gave the second bouquet to the cashier and asked her to gift it to the woman behind me in line. It was double the pleasure hoping that she would enjoy the flowers as much as I did.”

• “Sometimes just an afternoon coffee or even a Diet Coke with lunch instead of water can turn my day around ☺️”

• “I bought the nail polish color I’ve been eyeballing for two years but my inner critic wouldn’t let me buy it because it was more than I would pay for nail polish. But I bought it and I LOVE IT.”

Readers, I would LOVE to hear what small things bring you joy. Leave a comment below telling us all about it?

And even better, we’d love to see a photo of your favorite small indulgence—a simple thing that brings you a whole lot of happiness. Please share on your favorite social media platform, using the hashtag #buytheflowers (even if your thing isn’t actually flowers) so we can all oooo and ahhh and get inspired.

I can’t wait to see what you share.

P.S. I’d love for you to hear more of this story in my own words: click here to listen to me read Chapter 13 of Don’t Overthink It, called “Small Shifts toward Simple Abundance.” Happy listening!


Leave A Comment
  1. As soon as the weather turns to a warm regularity, I go to a salon for a pedicure (more than I would typically pay for something). It lasts so much longer than if I would do it myself and makes me smile when I look down and see my pretty toes in sandals knowing the long, cold winter is behind me.

  2. Mary Noel says:

    Really, really nice soap! The kind that comes in a tissue paper wrapping with a lovely seal holding it all together.

  3. Kim says:

    Getting a facial. I used to get them all the time, then kids and life and pandemic, well it’s been years now and my skin needs some love. I’m making an appointment today.

  4. Gwyn Day says:

    I love puttering in my flower garden. I have always wanted the red Hunter rubber boots but just couldn’t bring myself to buy them. I took the plunge last spring and now I just smile when I put them on and putter around outside!

  5. Deb says:

    Going to the library and finding the book I’ve been dying to read on the new release shelf just waiting to come home with me.

  6. Megan says:

    I just finished Don’t Overthink It and LOVED it, I had it on my shelf to read for over a year and although I’m sad I waited so long, it is as the perfect time for me to read it when I did. It was so helpful and I am planning on reading it again soon because I really needed it.

  7. Martha says:

    Wearing bracelets makes me feel pretty even on days I start out feeling frumpy.
    Seeing all the bird activity at our feeders brings so much joy.
    Painting little watercolor cards for friends and neighbors makes me happy to bring ( hopefully) a little beauty or joy to someone who needs some encouragement.

  8. Gena says:

    The flowers resonate for me. For years I even resented being given them -it was a “waste” of money 😬
    But now, I love the flowers and I’ve realized what kinds of flowers I do like -roses don’t don’t cut it for me -and what color combinations bring joy.
    I love candles and soft lighting: in white lights, fairy lights, side lamps and candle form- i light almost all of those every night during winter.

  9. Lisa F. says:

    Bunches of Gerber daisies, bookmarks, Ritter Sport dark chocolate marzipan bars, lotions from Firebird Bath and Body–none of these are “needs,” but they sure bring me joy. And in the “totally free” category, the days are getting longer and the birds are starting to sing before daylight and into early evening.

    • Lind says:

      I f I’m feeling low a trip to Sephora to choose a new lipstick and mascara makes me feel young and extravagant. I get to try out and smell all the luxury brands and then spend $20 on the lesser known ones – and leave feeling totally extravagant and frivolous.

  10. Melissa K says:

    I’ve been breaking out the fancy plates, splurging on the tea, making up an afternoon snack cake, fixing up rooms I like, lighting a candle when I sit down to read a book, grabbing the dog and settling into the sunny spots for a break, and the biggest gift to myself was realizing massage was self-care and scheduling a monthly massage. I’m working on growing flowers to cut my own, which will make me happy in both the growing and the cutting 🙂

  11. Brenda says:

    Freshly popped caramel corn at our local, family-owned Mini Mart. When I walk in to pay for gas and smell the delicious scent, I know that it’s not a “need,” but it sure makes my evening more enjoyable!

  12. Kim Goff says:

    I have flowers from Re-vased delivered once a month because they are beautiful and they make me smile. Lotions that are rich so I can feel the difference when I use them. Tissues that are extra soft. I am turning 58 next week and am determined to enjoy all the things I’ve ignored up to now. Wonderful article!!

  13. Lyn Gettinger says:

    I’m finishing out this winter with lighting the gas fireplace while watching TV under my new Cuddl Duds throw that I found at a great price before Christmas. The extra splurge is a generous amount of Reddi Whip topping on my no-sugar-added Swiss Miss hot chocolate. I even sometimes drizzle chocolate syrup on the whipped topping to be fancy.

  14. Sue says:

    I, too, LOVE Trader Joe’s flowers. So many different varieties. I also love a new lipstick or other lip product. Fun pens, time to read. Candles lighting up the room. Hot chocolate. Also, Cinnabon offers a frozen caramel sticky bun. Pricey but soooooo delicious, well worth it!

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