Feeling a bit stressed out? Have the winter grays got you down? Has our divided country got you longing for a group Kumbaya? Stuck in that awful commute again? Did that teacher’s note say there was a case of a child having lice in your kid’s classroom? Was Valentine’s Day less than passionate for you? And is that knee acting up again?
Enough of the 20 questions — actually there were quite a few less. But you get the drift. Even though they say that stress can be good for you, living in today’s America can be a bit taxing. Literally. I now even have to bring my own bag to the grocery store in Chicago if I don’t want to pay 7 cents. I know, it’s supposed to cut down on landfill, but jeez, I do recycle. Where’s the reward?
And then I see President Obama kitesurfing with Richard Branson off the British Virgin Islands. Talk about not having an Obamacare in the world. Granted, the man deserves some down time after being so cool, calm, collected and cultured during his eight-year tenure.
But this rant about stress in America actually brings up a perfect opportunity for the happiest profession in the world — candy making. Today, more than ever, we need to take time out and, yeah, indulge ourselves to maintain our sanity.
In the past, there wasn’t any pushback when one splurged on a sweet treat, be it chocolate, candy, sweet roll, ice cream. Today, amid a constant news onslaught that too many of us are overweight and out of shape — who me? — there’s societal guilt swarming about us every time we splurge.
Luckily, man’s too clever to be denied his treats. He’s just renamed it; now it’s called “permissible indulgence.” Not exactly sure when that term surfaced, but a quick internet search shows references back to 2013. Essentially, it’s all about removing any guilt associated with treating oneself to something tasty, and I’m not talking kale here.
Rewarding oneself for dealing with a particularly thorny issue or performing a mind-debilitating, busy-work task assigned to you by your boss, even spending time with an obnoxious co-worker or client, has always made sense to me — and it shows.
However, today you can indulge in a treat that offers better-for-you benefits, healthier ingredients (organic, all natural, non-GMO) and less̶ sugar, less fat and less calories. Millennials are particularly keen on indulging on such treats since this approximates eating healthy. Of course, when I was their age, I didn’t have any guilt about eating anything.
The issue here, however, is that these better-for-you treats have to taste good. It’s always been a challenge, but give credit to the candy and food technologists — those clever folks wearing white lab coats — for coming up with tasty and healthier options.
All tongue-in-cheek aside, I really do think that this permissible indulgence niche will continue to grow. One of the reasons is that I don’t see everyday stresses diminishing. And to Gretchen Rubin’s point, since it’s “permissible,” we can “treat” ourselves more often.
“A 'treat' is different from a 'reward,' which must be justified or earned. A treat is a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because we want it. Treats give us greater vitality, which boosts self-control, which helps us maintain our healthy habits.” — Gretchen Rubin, (born 1966), American author, blogger and speaker