The good impact of 'spoiling' and being spoiled

  • The author's cat, Sheba, in her leisure "cat pod."

    The author's cat, Sheba, in her leisure "cat pod." Courtesy of Susan Anderson-Khleif

Posted9/19/2020 6:00 AM

Spoiling usually brings something negative to mind -- spoiling food, spoiling a good time, or other matters ruined in some way.

But I'm here to say, I think of spoiling as something great for friends, or for your pets -- or even for yourself.


You can spoil someone by pampering them, doing something nice, making a special meal or otherwise giving a treat. This is good not only for them, but for yourself. As the saying reminds us -- "what goes around comes around."

First of all, doing a kind act makes you, yourself, feel better. It is as cheerful for you as the recipient.

Second, I think kindness and reciprocity are two very important parts of human behavior.

Third, it does not take much. You just need to extend yourself. It doesn't have to be expensive, just caring and thoughtful.

And do not forget spoiling yourself -- just a little treat or nice activity you enjoy. One of mine is the ritual of my monthly trip to get my hair done. Complete relaxation and pampering, yet nothing very complicated.

I even enjoy spoiling my kitties. Pets are friends too. Mine are little sweethearts and such good girls. My most recent pampering is creating a leisure "cat pod" for them. This includes a pillow cat bed, a pretty and cozy "cat cave" and a couple little, cushy and unused airline pillows I found in a closet. It could be as easy as a new cardboard box to explore.

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Last month I got a special spoiling from a friend who surprised me with a delicious Italian dinner on a difficult day -- the eighth anniversary of my dear husband's death. She thought I needed a treat and a little company. She turned a sad day into a very pleasant day. How about that for a nice gesture.

Just keep your radar out. That's what I do. Opportunities arise all the time. Look for something you can do to help another. It could be a small action or telephone call.

The point is: You benefit as much as the person being spoiled. It comes back to you, even though that's not your motivation nor expectation. It just happens.

My dear husband Baheej used to spoil me in many small ways. Actions or items that I could have done or gotten for myself were so much sweeter coming from him. I miss him so much.

So it is … and so I try to pass the spoiling around when I can.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at or see her blog See previous columns at

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