My daughter asked me why people say "trick or treat" on Halloween. It seems there are a variety of explanations for this tradition but the explanation I offered was that the people whose house you are visiting can opt to give the visitor a trick or a treat--and most people go for the treat. This is probably true in everyday life as much as it is on Halloween.
Treating ourselves is often the easy road, the reward, the justification for doing something we enjoy, but do we really need to trick ourselves into thinking we have to justify happiness?
I spent the weekend doing both--tricking and treating myself. After spending Saturday morning tag-teaming with my husband to get all three of our girls to their soccer games on a chilly fall day, the first thing I wanted to do was take a hot shower and eat lunch. The last thing I wanted to do was lift weights and go for a run.
My rotten mood began to spilleth over onto my family so I gave myself a little pep talk and tricked myself into that workout: "You're antsy because you haven't gotten any exercise since Thursday. You're grumpy because you're tired--working out will give you more energy. You'll feel better if you just go. It will be happy hour soon, you'd better get that workout in . . . "
So, before I could change my mind, I quickly changed my clothes instead and made a beeline for the gym in our basement, put on an upbeat CD, and jumped right into a set of squats.
Before I could finish lifting, my husband and I had a small disagreement which grew into a bigger disagreement, which firmed up my resolve, and my need, to get out of the house and spend some time by myself.
The 4.5 mile run was slow but therapeutic as I vented my frustrations out loud, giving myself a little therapy and creating a little peace with my issues before the miles were up--tricking myself into feeling better, but it actually worked.
I'd essentially tricked myself into that workout and, as a result, was able to treat myself and my family to a happier person upon my return.
And, as I suspected, I enjoyed myself much more later as I sat on my beautiful patio, warmed by the flames dancing in our fire pit, surrounded by great friends, consuming good wine, as I treated myself, without guilt, to several dark chocolate s'mores.
By Sunday, I was able to treat myself again--not blowing off Saturday's workout earned me a day off on Sunday. So, instead of my usual cardio fare, I headed out for a hike in the woods to the lake, accompanied by two friends and two dogs. I enjoyed the girl-talk, the crisp fall air, the crunch of leaves under my feet, the sun sparkling on the lake, and watching my Labrador bound gleefully through the forest and leap with abandon into the water to retrieve a stick. It was a real treat for all of us.
Finally, we set out for the real "trick-or-treat" festivities--kids with candy sacks in hand, me with a Mounds Bar Cocktail in hand (treating myself again)--as we went from house to house in our neighborhood, the girls' sacks overflowing with treats.
After the kids were settled into bed, I helped myself to some of their treats, followed by my usual chips & cheese indulgence--tricking myself into thinking I'd somehow burned enough calories over the weekend to deserve all the treats.
The trick will be to get back on track tomorrow.