Pet Faves: Unexpected Joys From Everyday Moments

Ever have one of those obnoxious days where everyone and everything gets on your last nerve? (Like, maybe yesterday?) What about one of those days where things just click, and everything feels good and right?

While distractedly scrolling through Facebook during a petal-cutting break a few weeks ago, I accidentally stumbled onto an article about pet peeves (and, rather, their opposite: pet faves), and I cannot stop thinking about it.

On a particularly “sour spiral” day of people checking off all his pet peeve boxes with annoying behaviors and petty tasks, the author, T. Wise, resets his outlook by focusing instead on “pet faves.”

He defines this counter-concept as “the small things that bring us unlikely joy and remind us how gratifying it can feel when life is on beat. If pet peeves draw on a shared humanity by recognizing how annoying people are or how frustrating the details can be, pet faves are what connect us through appreciation and acknowledgement of simple sweetness.”

He illustrates this with the example of the unexpected satisfaction of finding a well-placed hook (for instance, under the counter at a bar, for your purse or coat). Or paying with exact change, or removing the shell of a hard-boiled egg in one piece. Or, “when someone I love hugs me and later that night I put on my coat and can smell them for one second.” Ahhhh.

Even just reading his satisfying examples feels like little waves of warm gratification, and I start to wonder: what are my pet faves that bring me unlikely joy and surprise satisfaction?

Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Little old men in hats. Bonus points for suspenders and bowties.

The fact that the sound of my dog chewing people food sounds the same as people chewing people food.

When I get to the end of a roll of crepe paper and have just enough to cut the exact number of petals I need.

The smell of a library book’s pages and the sound of its plastic cover crinkling as I open it.

Arriving at an intersection just in time to make a green left turn arrow.

Guessing right and picking the perfectly sized Tupperware container for the leftovers (AND having the matching lid).

When I absentmindedly sing a song upstairs and I hear my husband start singing it downstairs.

Knowing the next song on an album and starting to sing it in the right key before it starts.

Toddlers with British accents.

Parallel parking perfectly on the first try.

Animals that help each other.

Flash mob dances and the moment when they end and people seamlessly blend back into the crowd.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our days were full of pet faves instead of pet peeves? The author argues that we have more say in that than we might believe:

“These are not life-changing moments, but that could be their true magic. They are consistent and common, a relief as we make our way through an existence ruled by uncertainty and change. None of us completely control how our days unfold. There are things that happen by chance and there are mistakes. We don’t get to decide how others will act or how those actions will make us feel. I don’t choose to wake up some days lost in my blue, feeling doubtful or stuck. But I have found that I do get to choose what I lean into, what I give space in my mind to, which voices I amplify, and which thoughts I kindly escort out.”

My Challenge To You:

As we trudge through these last few weeks of winter, I challenge you to lean into those unexpected moments that bring you joy and simple gratification. Just considering what they might be brings a sweet satisfaction that dulls the sting of an annoying pet peeve (true fact: even writing out the list above made me REALLY happy).

So, what are you pet faves? Is there a person you associate with a particular pet fave? TELL THEM! We don’t have to give flowers to someone to let them know they bring us joy (and I’m a pretty big fan of giving flowers).

See how many conversations you can have in which you focus on a pet fave rather than a pet peeve. Notice how it shifts the tone and resets your mood. I hope your day is filled with unexpected well-placed hooks, green left turn arrows, and flash mobs. ;)

Share some of your pet faves in the comments below!