You know who you are.
You already have a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand and you have a thick, oversized sweater on. You're kicking around some leaves on the sidewalk as you carry home your pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Earlier in the day, you went apple picking, and tonight, you're going to try your hand at your grandma's apple pie recipe. Maybe you'll even start up a crackling fire in the fireplace as you listen to vintage records.
You are obsessed with fall.
But you're not alone. More and more, I'm starting to see people in a fall frenzy -- posting pictures of their cinnamon spice candles and candy corn. Even Taylor Swift is in on the hullabaloo, going on about the seasonal change on her Tumblr:
Avid autumnal enthusiasts seem to have their headquarters over on Tumblr, where they can reblog pictures of colorful trees and jack-o'-lanterns. I checked in with Tumblr's Community + Content team to see which fall content was the most popular. According to them, a community of 2.8 million users has created more than 250,000 posts dedicated to fall and drove 6.5 million notes (likes + reblogs) in the last 30 days. Behold:
Puppy in leaves -- 100,974 Notes
The word 'September,' also in leaves -- 47,988 Notes
And, because the Internet is a strange place, this -- 123,027 Notes
But why is fall such a big deal to you guys? Well, I decided to get down to the bottom it, so I went to Dr. Ben-Shahar Tal, who specializes in positive psychology (dude got his PhD Harvard and wrote four books about happiness, so he knows), to see why the autumnal craze has you feeling so joyful.
"As far as we know, there's nothing inherent in autumn that makes it a happier season. However, when people inject meaning into it, then it can become a happier season," Tal said. "So if I choose to focus on how wonderful the apple pie, pumpkins, and leaves are, and romanticize these things, then I'm more likely to enjoy the season. Much of what we experience in life depends on the meaning or interpretation we give to it."
Romanticize? Noooo. Isn't there something magical in that Pumpkin Spice Latte that makes us crave more chilly weather and ankle boots? No? Just caffeine?
Dr. Kathryn Ariel Roecklein, who teaches psychology at University of Pittsburgh, agrees with Tal. There isn't something mystical about dead leaves tumbling down on your head, it's just the emotions you assign to things like that.
"We also have memories of seasons, and those impact how we feel," Roecklein said. "Think about how you’d feel if you really loved going back to school every fall? You’d look forward to that season due to fond memories in the past."
Now, I'm not sure how I feel about going back to school, but I do get fall vibes when I pass by some composition notebooks for sale, and I do have a yearning to go shoe shopping every September. Let's take a look at some other things that we associate with fall:
Don't think I wasn't going to break down one of the most popular flavors of the season! Not only can you get pumpkin-flavored food, don't forget about your pumpkin beauty products, including pumpkin spice hairspray (and condoms, for you hoax-lovers).
When I asked U.S. Tim Hortons PR Manger Brynn Burton about how their pumpkin snacks fare in the fall, he dared to say pumpkin may be trumping other American favorites.
"People love their pumpkin," Burton told me, saying that people request products like their Pumpkin Pie Latte and Pumpkin Spice Muffin, Donut and Timbits all year round. "Pumpkin may be becoming more of a treasured American flavor than apple or blueberry."
Burton believes the pumpkin love affair -- along with a love of autumn -- is, like Tal said, romanticized.
"I think we are obsessed with fall because it’s a ton of American pastimes crammed into three months…football, picking apples, baking, sweaters, crafting/carving, harvest, Thanksgiving," Burton said. "Summer seems to be more laid back—vacation, music focused (with festivals), or movies…where fall is food focused, family and friends centered—leading up to the holidays—it’s more sentimental, more romantic."
That snuggly feeling. Comfy sweater, leggings, fire, warm tea, candles. Doesn't it make you feel all warm inside? It's exactly that "warming feeling" that makes people a tad more happy. Tal and I thought it may be a survival instinct from when we were cavemen (if you're warm and sheltered, you're not dying outside), but maybe just being warm is comforting.
"If people think about cuddling in bed or sitting in front of the fire or slipping into a cozy coat, then associations with 'warming feelings' naturally emerge," he said. "And warmth is often associated with happiness."
No matter where you are, close your eyes and think of a giant angora sweater, covering you from head to toe. Are you not smiling? The kids over at fall headquarters are. Along with the "fall" and "autumn" tags on Tumblr, Danielle Strle, director of product, community + content, found that "sweater weather" was another big tag.
"Grey and pastels are recurring colors, graphic sweaters, and big, loose fits," she said, citing "large, chunky, knit scarves" and "classic grungy red flannel" as prominent trending styles.
It's not enough pumpkin until you can smell it all around you... and maybe bathe in it. That's when there will be enough pumpkin. So get off my back.
So super seasonal. And also pumpkin, in this picture. But it can be apple too!
Don't think about the leaves dying. Think about them reaching their peak and embracing their true colors. And don't forget to Instagram them. #nature
Cuddle up to that "warming feeling" and get happy.