Real talk: Indulgence isn’t easy. Not all of us can live like Bacchus and casually don our pleasure wreaths — some of us can barely go a week without calling ourselves “The Worst” or a “Garbage Human.”

It’s hard to unlearn this mindset, too, not least because most people see hedonism as something to be kept on the down-low. I’m lucky enough to have friends who are semi-ruthless about indulging every day, reasonably within or rampantly outside of their means. So, I dove deep and utilized my hyperbolic social network for pro-tips.

I first contacted my most luxurious friend, Jen, who knows how to live her best life always, whether it be on vacation, on bike number 19 at SoulCycle, or covered in creams an aesthetician would fake acne to buy. She didn’t take me seriously at first, responding to my text with a video link advertising a Jamaican resort called Hedonism II. Once I forced an honest dialogue by text-screaming that I never ask for help, she reminded me to be shamelessly open to receiving sparkly upgrades. “When my husband and I are on vacation, we’ll tell the hotel that we’re on our honeymoon because it guarantees a room upgrade and free champagne,” she said.

Taylor, an aspirational Millennial who suggests that her tagline is “ballin’ on a budget,” has a more attainable, but no less interesting approach: “Use Instagram to figure out what the hottest restaurants are in your area. Then, start talking about all of the ‘rave reviews you’ve heard of X dish’ in front of your coworkers who work in Sales. When they’re least expecting it, suggest they take you on a ‘working lunch,’ knowing they’ll expense the meal. Don’t forget to ‘gram the most popular dish to build your social capital — but post it at a later date, so you don’t give anyone away.” Before I could tell Taylor how I felt about this, she made sure to clarify that you should always spend at least 15 minutes talking about work projects so as not to raise any eyebrows about your true intentions. A personal addendum: Order the small plates. I never get the small plates.

I then connected with my best friend, Thomas, considering he has introduced me to some of my most lavish habits. He is also one of my most data-driven, methodical confidantes, so I wanted his perspective on self-indulgence (outside of his dating life, of course). Without hesitation, he shared, “I literally indulge in small personal pleasures every day. I work out endlessly (as an act of self-love) and mist my face after with a luxury hydration spray.” (He told me not to focus as much on his going into high-end designer stores that serve champagne as a precursor to his trying on clothes he won’t buy, but hey, we’re all seeking authenticity here.)


All of this luxury was honestly getting me a little hot and worked up, so I slowed things down a little with my long-time friend, Emma. She spoke for the vulnerability inside us all, explaining, “When I’m feeling really nasty and rude, I’ll just take a nice hot, himalayan salt bath for 30 minutes!” (Emma also presented the option of crying in the bath, but reiterated that the crying catharsis is optional.) My friend Angela, who always appears to have her act together, advocated for similar relaxation techniques, suggesting that I “shell out for something you’re skeptical of,” citing her recent visit to a New Age sweat lodge and the “color reading” she had done there. “If nothing else, it’ll help you think about your life from a different perspective,” she said. “The added benefit of a sweat lodge is that you can tell yourself you’ve just worked out.”

So, for all you Hedonistic Helens out there, what makes your indulgence meters go off the charts? How do you remind yourself that you deserve to treat yourself? Let us know in the comments! Nothing is out of bounds. Remember: 2016 really is over! And if you’re looking to max out your pleasure without maxing out your wallet (or compromising your health), snacks like Nature Valley Granola Cups keep you sated. They’re sweet, thanks to chocolate; crunchy, thanks to whole-grain oat granola and chopped nuts; and creamy, thanks to peanut and almond butter. Plus, at 200 calories per serving, they leave plenty of room for hydration sprays and workday small plates.

Annie Goodman is a freelance writer and humorist living in Manhattan.

This post is a sponsored collaboration between Nature Valley and Studio@Gizmodo.