Guilty Pleasures: Really?

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens is the first line of an evergreen song from the classic, The Sound of Music and my all-time favourite movie. For those who haven’t seen the film, this song takes place when the children are petrified by thunder and lightning and their governess, Maria, sings this song about her favourite things to lighten the mood. The other day, I was humming this song when I thought of this post, but instead of my favourite things, let’s talk about guilty pleasures.

So what is a guilty pleasure? A guilty pleasure is something that one enjoys despite understanding that it is not generally held in high regard, or is seen as unusual or weird. It can also be used to refer to one’s taste for foods that are considered to be advisable to avoid, especially for health reasons. Social norms define what one should be guilty of. One may feel bad when they don’t do house chores, because it is socially appropriate that they be responsible for their house. In social media, the social rule is to be online and participative as much as one can and so because of social norms, there is a feeling of guilt, and we avoid making any mistakes.

Some experts suggest that women and other marginalised groups be careful not to attach negative connotations to pleasure, particularly since they may be associating guilt with pleasure as an outcome of historically having been denied pleasure.  Having emotional and intellectual release valves is important for productivity, and balanced living and can help relieve stress during difficult times. Guilty pleasures help provide some important mental breaks, so never feel guilty about them.

Engaging in guilty pleasure brings out our inner child. We engage in mischief and find it thrilling, testing the boundaries of how far we can go without being caught. We feel pleasure and a sense of relief when we allow ourselves to give in to our guilty pleasures. Guilty pleasure is simply the joy of doing something but at the same time feeling a little bad about doing it. This is society’s way of making people feel that their pleasures are not educational, informative, or purposeful.

It is a fact that leisure time should be spent wisely and productively so that the mind can be developed and we gain more knowledge. Our brain needs to rest, and indulging in pleasures that engage with a reward pathway are ways of easing brain stress. Guilty pleasures bring positive emotions, reduce stress, and improve mental health and well-being. Engaging in pleasurable activities is harmless and is considered healthy. One feels good and happy after sitting for at least an hour watching their favourite movie or TV show and the same feeling is got when one travels to a new place or goes to a concert of their favourite musician or artist.

Guilty pleasures don’t have to be grand and expensive. Simple everyday things can be guilty pleasures. Playing an interactive game on your phone before doing house chores can be very rewarding and motivating. You feel a sense of triumph when you allow yourself to have fun.

Enjoying some pleasurable time is good. But too much can cause problems. But if one postpones work by say binge-watching a show, that’s procrastination and that’s a big no-no. But if at the end of the day, you read a book or watch something that need not be educational or productive, that is a guilty pleasure.  No one should abuse any guilty pleasure. It should be considered a gift because one can pause what they’re doing and enjoy a piece of chocolate or two before resuming work. It should be used as a tool to relax and reset the brain to function better.

Indulging in guilty pleasures is good only if it is short-term and if you can control your urges. Constantly allowing yourself to give in to these pleasurable urges, especially the negative ones, can be damaging and harmful in the long run. The keys are self-control and balance. Being able to control yourself is important if you don’t want to feel guilty about your pleasures. According to research, those who are self-conscious have greater self-control. This means that if you are very conscious about yourself, what you eat, watch, or do and think about their negative effects on you, you are more likely to guard yourself against over-indulging. Often, it is people who have poor control who feel the guiltiest. This is why you should master and control yourself. Guilty pleasures won’t make you feel so guilty because you are not enslaved by them. Allowing yourself some guilty pleasures can help you recover more quickly and have a healthier disposition.

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It is time to drop the shame and indulge in your guilty pleasures. These pleasures are good for your well-being and mental health. You are only productive and inspired when you are happy. Have more self-compassion and be free to enjoy whatever you want as long as you are not hurting anybody. Tell yourself that you deserve this pleasure because you have earned it and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about it.

So what are your guilty pleasures?

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