Buy the flowers

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. Inspired By Hermione says:

    Flowers, for me, too. I’ve been buying them more often since my best friend passed away, and the last text she sent me said “I would also suggest buying yourself some flowers from that posh little market across the street from you. Always puts a smile on my face. 💐☺️“ I’ve been buying the flowers and they put a smile on my face.
    Hardback books of books I’ve already read but love. I hesitate because I’ve already read it! But then I remember that I also love seeing my fave books on my shelf.
    L’Occitane bubble bath. Good lord did this one take some self-convincing. But every time I use it, I’m glad I bought it.

    Other things:
    Sitting in the coffee shop to drink my coffee, especially during the work day. It only takes a few minutes but it feels so good.
    Eating a real breakfast at home instead of rushing around and eating it at work, or not at all.
    Glass bottle Coke. It’s the exact same price as a can of coke but I like it more.

  2. Marci Ytterberg says:

    I was a nanny for a year and I have borrowed from my employer the following small indulgences that are game changers.
    1). Candlelight dinner EVERY night even if it’s reheated leftovers!
    2). Good quality cloth napkins – also every night.
    3). Butter – no margarine in the house at all and the more local the butter, the better.

  3. Nancy says:

    Drinking prosecco from a pretty flute or wine glass, treating myself to a my fave Starbucks drink (not often because I tell myself I don’t need to spend the $$ nor use up the calories), buying flowers, sitting on my deck in late afternoon listening to music and knowing how fortunate I am at that moment, finding a piece of clothing that fits and I feel good in, re-reading a few books I love (all Kelly Corrigan books, Dinner with Edward to name a few), time with old and dear girlfriends, spending time with my grandchildren and adult children.

  4. RHWofPA says:

    A good crunchy, crisp apple, loaded with flavor. When I was growing up, my dad was an apple orchardist, so I was SPOILED with apples fresh off the tree, always cool, crisp, and juicy. When I left home, (and fresh off the tree apples), I started watching apple prices, knowing that the best apples came from stores that had refrigerated display cases, otherwise, the apples would be mealy, mushy, and downright disappointing. So, I found my favorites, found the stores that kept apples refrigerated, and vowed that I would buy them at those places no matter the price. Today my favorites are the pink lady, the gala, the honeycrisp, and now, the envy. I enjoy them as often as I can, at least one a day, and I think of my dad every time I bite into it. He is gone now, but I have a life long love of fruits and vegetables because of his green thumb…the apple being my favorite!

  5. Lizabeth Snell says:

    Here in Central VT we have much winter still to go. Emily VonTrapp plants thousands of tulips in her greenhouses (tulip palooza, helped my many flower lovers) in the fall.. and they’re coming in now. She delivers to our local Coop and other markets. And we regularly buy these tulips.. parrots of gorgeous shape and color, other varieties featuring Bright color. These bouquets are “expensive” $15. Yup.. we buy them. Nearly weekly. Because every single thing about them is wonderful & lifts the spirits. Supporting Emily feels great too! And spring Will come! 🙂

  6. Andrea says:

    Spending the money on a novelty “leather” bound classic from Barnes & Noble. They are so pretty on the book shelf, especially when I broke the rules and did a little organizing by color.
    A little extra on a better bottle of wine. I mean, surly I could splurge now and then on a bottle that costs more than $10… and when I did I discovered it was worth it.
    I love getting a coffee (in a cafe, in a cup) in the middle of the day. It feels so decadent.

  7. Andrea Miller says:

    Anne – I love your idea – especially buying more flowers. They bring joy and beauty into our world and make the people around us happy. But, I do cringe at the idea of a $1.49 bouquet of flowers from Trader Joe’s. Unless Trader Joe’s is taking a hit on those flowers then the farmer and the people who picked and bundled and transported those flowers to the store are not making any money. Please buy flowers from local growers. I am sorry to bring negativity to this wonderful idea….but, flower production often gets left out of the local seasonal movement and there is a long way to go for fair wages and safe working environment from chemical use reduction for flower farmers. (Also, since the chemical use on flowers is basically unregulated – do you want to bring those chemicals into your house?) Know your flower farmer and buy local! Slow Flowers is a great place to start looking for your nearest local flower farmer.

    • Louise says:

      This is a very good point. When something is really cheap, there’s a reason why and its usually not good. Someone is payng the price for it, even if it’s not you.

        • Suzanne says:

          Everyone should make as much of an effort to be aware of the problems in the world as possible. But every single person in the entire world can’t restrict their lives to solve every single problem. None of us could buy, eat, drink, wear, etc. anything at all. There are just too many problems. GMOs, deforestation, pollution, am I willing to buy products that are imported from other countries, will I buy from larger companies or only from local stores, was the person who made this product paid a fair wage, do I eat meat or will I be a vegetarian or vegan? And on and on.
          Everyone has to draw their own line somewhere. And no one else has the right to judge them for it, because no one is perfect.

    • Sherri says:

      Good points! And thank you so much for this link, I found flower growers near me that I didn’t know existed! 😃 Can’t wait to buy locally, and support my local community. 😊

  8. Jessica says:

    Coffee creamer that has ingredients I usually try to avoid, and plenty of it in my cup.
    Live plants even if I kill them off in a couple of months.
    Playing in the grass and sunshine at the park with my children instead of sitting on the bench being bored on my phone.
    You’ve inspired me to buy the flowers this year, and I’m not only loving it, but am amazed at how long they last!

  9. Cherilyn Anderson says:

    Bananas…for several years I considered bananas a luxury purchase because I couldn’t justify the per pound cost on my limited budget…I just waited until the price dropped.
    No more. I enjoy bananas every day and the sunny vibe I get makes me feel rich all ovee.

  10. Teresa Gregory says:

    My husband died at age 53 after a short illness. This was a stunner for me. The first week I went to the grocery after his funeral, I bought a small bouquet of flowers as a reward for making it through the week. I did that for about five years.

    • Aimee says:

      Teresa, so many of these comments have warmed my heart and made me smile. Yours made me stop in my tracks. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your husband and so very proud of you for honoring him, and yourself, by continuing to choose to live life and to live it as beautifully as you can. Since I don’t know him, perhaps I shouldn’t engage in conjecture but I have a suspicion he was thrilled to see you buying flowers each week. Much love and peace to you.

  11. Dani says:

    Yarn, beautiful yarn! And I work at a yarn shop, so temptation is wall to wall present all the time! I try to strike a balance between indulging myself and mindlessly stashing. Also, those daffodils, at this time of year – they’re a necessity. 😀

  12. Leanne says:

    Sad to say, I live in a land devoid of Trader Joe’s, decent shopping, and anything that comes close to a good haircut. I so miss those sunny little bundles from Trader Joe’s. My mother was one of those people that saved everything for a “special occasion.” Sadly, those occasions never happened and now it’s too late. Yes, buy the flowers, the wine, the chocolate, the good coffee, etc. Whatever it is that brings you joy, buy it.

    • Ginny Evans says:

      Take heart Leanne, when I lived in “smallville” I found beauty at every turn and picked little flowers and displayed them in tiny recycled perfume bottles. Their sweet smallness and amazing perfection brought me great joy! I found a local store with pretty ribbon and stationary that brought me joy and I gave them some business. There is always joy to be found, even in out of the way places!

  13. Marcia says:

    When Farmer’s Market opens, I always buy a bouquet of flowers from the same vendor who must have a magical flower garden. The flowers sit on my kitchen table and it makes me feel good. When people drop in, the flowers are always noticed.

    When traveling I love book marks and magnets from the city or country.

  14. Hannah says:

    We have a constant flow of homemade baked goods at our house, because I love to bake and I love to have dessert. Sometimes I feel bad about the nutrition in our house, so thanks for reminding me that these little indulgences are ok and good 🙂 (I do serve fruits and veggies too, I promise…)
    Also, good loose leaf tea, cream for my tea, apples from the actual orchard, and lots of trips to the library!

  15. Sondra Adams says:

    It makes me happy when I go through the drive through and pay for the person behind me. When some one did that for me it lifted my spirits all day. I especially like that it is anonymous and shows how we do really care about each other.

  16. Lisa says:

    I bought an inexpensive bouquet at the grocery store on a whim for Valentine’s Day. It has been a cold, grey winter here and I was amazed at how much better my mood was just having fresh flowers. My 16 year old daughter agrees. I realized that the flowers cost less than an impromptu stop for coffee that I wouldn’t have thought twice about. So I plan to keep getting the flowers!

    • Karen says:

      I love it when my DH brings me flowers, usually daisies as they are my favorite and make a goodly show for about $5. On occasion he will bring me what I call No Reason Roses. They are always a surprise and never around a holiday so they are really a surprise. Fresh flowers just make me feel good.

  17. Carmen says:

    I treat myself to nice hand lotion. I have some by my kitchen sink and on my desk at work. The scent is one I love, and it feels like a treat every time I stop and lotion my hands.

  18. Susan says:

    This was such a timely post because I just returned from grocery shopping with a beautiful little pot of pink begonias. They made my heart sing and they are now sitting in my kitchen window. I left the carton of ice cream in the freezer section. Good trade-off for me today.

  19. Mary Kay says:

    The fresh flowers, when my husband was dying, he told me to go and order myself some roses from “Bernies”~~the most expensive flower shop in town. I did it and we enjoyed them during his final days. He also made me promise to buy myself flowers often to be reminded of him. In fact, I always have a boquet of flowers in my home now, my friends expect it. They are usually a small bunch from the grocery store, but once in a while I will stop at Bernies and pick up a couple of roses and yes, they remind me of my sweet husband always. Thinking of him always brings joy to my heart!

  20. Kelli Roberts says:

    Raspberries! I love fresh, ripe berries but it feels so extravgant to pay so much for a little container. But when I do, nothing compares to the taste!

    • Susan says:

      I agree about the raspberries. The big red ones! They bring happy memories of picking them with my son in Maine in the summertime. We ate them right off the bushes. Sweet and beautiful. Such a treat!

  21. Glen says:

    I love buying pens, and paper. Flower shop growing where I don’t expect expect, since since i forget, heya are always where I didn’t expect them! New books, And rereading old books (at the moment, it’s Donna Andrews…I needed something cheerful and a bit humorous). And sunshine, which I see, at least at the moment!

  22. Kay says:

    I rarely buy flowers from the supermarket because they feel like such an indulgence, but I do love them so much when I do treat myself to some occasionally. Another thing that make me happy is having a candle lit, I find them comforting. A new book as opposed to my usual second hand ones is a huge treat. Starting a new craft project always makes me very happy, as does finishing one (this is much rarer than starting one!). Talking to my oldest friend on the phone for a catch up always makes my day and keeps me smiling for ages afterwards. All little things that mean a lot so why don’t I do the things more often?

  23. Suzanne says:

    I saw your post on Instagram on the flowers and I was going to be 2 towns away from our closest Trader Joe’s over the weekend. So off I went after a Dr appt to pick some up.

  24. Ruth O says:

    It’s really interesting that this topic popped up here today. I was eyeing up the bright and cheery bouquets at a grocery last night, (Kroger,not Trader Joe’s), and I thought to myself, Anne would say “Buy the flowers”! While I came very close to buying the pussy willow branches, I didn’t, to my regret. I was shopping with my Mom and that was special, however.
    The afternoon cup of coffee, and good pens are my favorites. Also when I get the alone time with a fresh read from the hold list at the library!

  25. Debby says:

    I’m allowing myself to work on three different quilts at the same time. Because I work long hours I used to only work on one at a time. My reasoning was that I would never finish anything. But that simply isn’t the case. Shifting from one to the other keeps me fresh. I get to re-admire the fabrics I’ve chosen and dream about where the quilt will be displayed. I finish just as many….and the one that I set aside because I am bored with it or unhappy with the process eventually gets finished because I can look at it with a fresh eye. Why did I have to be so old to make such a simple change????

  26. Heather Lima says:

    I agree, but I also think the scarcity of certain things can make them that much more enjoyable, so I buy flowers rarely and am wildly happy when I get them. On the other hand, I eat dark chocolate every single day.

  27. Katherine says:

    Autumn! Or Fall as some of you call it. 🙂 Summer is almost over here and I can’t wait for a crisp morning, or a dark night with a book and glass of Red.

  28. emily elling says:

    I want to get a pedicure. I haven’t had my legs seen/shaved in over 7 months and this may be a nice treat.

    Also, my book club just tonight picked a long wait novel, and maybe I’ll just buy the book.

    Longtime reader/listener just moved to the USA from 5 years in Belgium….

  29. Cindy says:

    L’Occitane Almond oil-it makes my skin so happy and deliciously neutral.
    Baby chicks-every year i talk myself out of adding to my flock but in the end it makes me so happy and i feel like the flock is where it should be
    single stems-one flower can make such a statement

  30. Susan says:

    I use my ‘good’ china every week. We host a small group in our home and I serve them dessert on our Noritake china. They’re special to me and they deserve my special china. And, I love the idea of buying two bouquets and gifting one to the lady behind you in the check out!!!

  31. Nickie says:

    I am so excited to read your new book AND I have 3 people in mind to give it to as a gift. I have not ordered yet because I am going to one of your events in Georgia in a few weeks and plan to buy (and hopefully get them signed?! 😉 ). I have really enjoyed your other 2 books (my only re-reads…seriously) and look forward to meeting you. Hope you have a great tour~

  32. Heather says:

    Anne, books on my Amazon wish list are to me what Trader Joe’s flowers are to you. I keep a very long wish list and review it every day. If any book comes on sale, I buy it. That’s a preset decision. I have thoroughly vetted the book before adding it to the list, so I already know I want to read it (or at least try it out – there are always some which don’t quite fit after all, and I abandon freely: life is short). Every time I buy a book on sale, I have joy. And it actually doesn’t happen all that often – maybe once or twice in a month – the books I want don’t seem to come on sale often. And, BTW, my list is heavily influenced by MMD and WSIRN.

  33. Lori Rossetti says:

    I love flowers but not at the top of my list. I love finishing a book and cracking open the next. Good ice cream excites me! And because I am a preschool teacher, I love glitter, play doh and unsolicited hugs!! It is a real gift to be paid to be childlike everyday😊

  34. Carrie Hammer says:

    Flowers is one thing I do buy when “I can afford it”. I started this practice when I went through a divorce. He paid child support and maintenance… I decided that if I was going to love myself I was going to gift myself flowers to show myself that love externally. It has been the best way to get me through bad moments.

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