On Guilty Pleasures

Wednesday, October 29, 2014
I have been thinking about the idea of 'guilty pleasures' lately.
It seems to be this kind of phrase that we roll out for all sorts of things these days - not just food or drink, but books, tv shows and movies, even general activities.
And I've realised that I just don't really buy into it.
I don't feel guilty when I am seeking some sort of specific pleasure. I don't get angry at myself for eating a donut if it's what I really felt like eating. I feel bad for wanting to read some romance books that aren't considered 'great literature'. And I certainly don't generate negativity towards myself when I watch kids tv shows, or perhaps something a little less mind-working like Midsomer Murders or Charmed or Friends.
I tend to decide that, if I am going to enjoy something, then I go ahead and enjoy it, and give myself the freedom of not feeling bad about it later.

Now, let me get this thing out of the way here. Yes, I am unemployed and spend almost all of my time at home (due to illness, but that's beside the point at the moment). Yes, despite being sick a lot of the time and not exercising much at all, I haven't really put on any weight since about 2008 (my metabolism still seems to be working!) and I tend to manage to stay slim despite the overwhelming odds against my doing so. Yes yes yes I acknowledge all of that. But I could still feel guilty for these things if I decided to put that on myself - if I decided to listen to other people more than that inner voice that says 'it would really help me relax if I could do this' or 'I don't know why but I'm really craving this sweet treat'.

There is a line with these things - emotional eating tends to be one of those lines, and procrastination is another (though both kind of have their place). I enjoy these pleasures when I am able to, and I watch my reaction to them. Because when they stop being pleasurable, and start feeling heavy and not as nice anymore, that's when I know I have turned to these pleasures out of a need to avoid something that needs dealing with.

What I'm saying in a very roundabout way here is: are your 'guilty' pleasures really worth so much negativity? Or can they be 'guiltless' pleasures, enjoyed in the moment, without fear of your own inner nagger later? Just a thought.


  1. I take a slightly different attitude to guilty pleasures. To me, there is tremendous pleasure in staying up later than is sensible to read a book before work the next day. Having that amazing cupcake for breakfast instead of something nutritious. Being late to an engagement because I'm too busy building an empire in some video game. These are definitely things that I know I "shouldn't" be doing, but it gives me tremendous pleasure to do them anyway. I imagine it would be similar to having an affair with your supervisor - all that danger and wrongness kind of makes it even more exciting. Those are the pleasures that I consider guilty, and important to indulge in from time to time. A life of discipline must also contain outrageous pleasure, and few pleasures are more outrageous than the guilty ones!

    1. Hmm that's definitely a good point. I guess for me I just got tired of people calling certain things 'guilty pleasures' as a way of kind of distancing themselves from it - like they were putting down the tv shows or food or book so they could show that they were actually usually smarter or healthier or more sophisticated than it. I guess I don't really refer to things as guilty pleasures so much because sometimes, to other people, what I'm doing may seem guilty, but I just enjoy them rather than feeling wrong about it....

      and I'm not sure I made any sense there.


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