Advertising
Advertising

Getting Rid of Guilty Pleasures

Getting Rid of Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

    We all have activities we love or foods we crave that we think of as “guilty pleasures”, things that aren’t good for us, or that we feel would embarrass us if anyone else know about it, but that we enjoy anyway.

    Maybe you like reading “airport novels”, or chick lit, or true confessions. Maybe you love double-fudge chocolate chunk ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles, or gummy worms, or expensive imported truffles. Maybe you cry in cheesy romantic comedies, or obsess over 1960’s B-movies, or scream like a little girl in slasher pics.

    Advertising

    Whatever it is, your pleasure is tempered somewhat by guilt. Some guilty pleasures make us feel guilty because they’re so bad for us — fattening foods, time-wasting games, IQ-sucking sitcoms. Others aren’t necessarily bad for us, but we fear for the effect on our reputations if word got out. They make us look “low-class” or “non-intellectual” or “unprofessional” or “immature”.

    The guilt ultimately arises, though, from the pleasure itself. Our modern society, with it’s “work work work ethic” and deeply-bred commitment to constant self-improvement — through dieting, through “extreme” sports, through self-help books, through a never-ending stream of products and media that all promise a “better you!” — holds pleasure in rather low esteem. It is seen, at best, as a reward, though a somewhat disreputable one, for the success of all that work work work.

    But more often it’s seen as a luxury, and a dispensable one at that. The poor are held in contempt for their continued willingness to own DVD players, the rich for their decadence. Food, we are told, is solely for the nourishment of the body; sex, we are told, is solely for the reproduction of the species. Pleasure for pleasure’s sake is to be avoided, and those who seek it are to be shunned.

    Advertising

    Hence the guilty pleasure — the thing we do just because it makes us feel good. It’s shameful to seek after the “empty calories” of the sugary snack, fluffy novel, or childish hobby. It’s a betrayal of the fundamental principles our society is built on.

    It’s time to strike the phrase “guilty pleasure” from your vocabulary.

    The idea that those things that distract us from the “real” work of living should be held in contempt is, of course, good for those who profit most from our work, but it’s no good for the rest of us. Work is good, of course — things need to get done — but work without pleasure is for automatons, not human beings. Indeed, it is the “guilty pleasures” we should feel least guilty about, because they re the things in which we are more fully our own people.

    Advertising

    Behind the concept of the guilty pleasure is a demand for conformity. Don’t eat that, watch that, read that, do that, be that. It is an insistence that there are certain things we’re supposed to eat, watch, read, do, be, if we are to be taken seriously as adults. It is an insistence, in fact, on being “normal” — or even worse, “average”.

    I defy that.

    I hear you thinking, “But certainly, if something’s unhealthy for you, and you do it anyway, you should feel guilty about it — it’s the only way you’re gong to stop!” And sure, if your diet consists solely of guilty pleasures, if your reading is entirely guilty pleasures, if your life is consumed by the quest for ever-more guilty pleasures, that’s a problem. If your guilt stems from your concern over a lack of willpower or discipline that is causing you real harm, you absolutely should be dealing with that. It’s probably not the guilty pleasure that’s to blame, though — you need to work out some balance in your life as a whole.

    Advertising

    But more often, our guilty pleasures are an exception, a small part of a life that’s otherwise already well-balanced. Which is to say, you can probably afford to indulge in a guilty pleasure or two without any guilt. If it gives you pleasure and isn’t likely to kill you, by all means, dig in!

    Same thing with the rest of the guilty pleasures. If your guilt stems from the fear of what other people would think if they knew, and you’re no longer in middle school, you need to deal with your lack of self-confidence, not your appreciation of Top 40 music.

    As with so much else, it boils down to a question of balance. If your life is chugging along just fine, thank you, and you just happen to have an inordinate fondness for Troll dolls, I say know yourself out. On the other hand, if your eating habits or entertainment preferences leave you unprepared to deal with your life — or if they’re the only consolation in your life — you need to give some serious thought to discovering more nourishing pleasures — or building a more nourishing life.

    More by this author

    The Science of Setting Goals (And Its Effect on Your Brain) How To Stop Procrastinating and Get Stuff Done How to Become Self-Taught the Easy Way (The How-to Guide) 3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively How to Take Notes: 3 Effective Note-Taking Techniques

    Trending in Featured

    1 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It) 2 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener 3 The Art of Humble Confidence 4 How to Learn Something New Every Day and Stay Smart 5 How to Overcome Procrastination and Start Doing What Truly Matters

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on November 18, 2020

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It)

    It’s okay, you can finally admit it. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym. Getting sick, family crisis, overtime at work and school papers that needed to get finished all kept you for exercising. Now, the question is: how do you start again?
    Once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just go to the gym, there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off.

    1. Don’t Break the Habit – The easiest way to keep things going is simply not to stop. Avoid long breaks in exercising or rebuilding the habit will take some effort. This may be advice a little too late for some people. But if you have an exercise habit going, don’t drop it at the first sign of trouble.
    2. Reward Showing Up – Woody Allen once said that, “Half of life is showing up.” I’d argue that 90% of making a habit is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, amount of laps you run or the amount you can bench press later.
    3. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to go every day (even just for 20 minutes) for one month. This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go.
    4. Make it Fun – If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. Many large fitness centers will offer a range of programs that can suit your tastes.
    5. Schedule During Quiet Hours – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. Right after work or first thing in the morning are often good places to put it. Lunch-hour workouts might be too easy to skip if work demands start mounting.
    6. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise habit.
    7. X Your Calendar – One person I know has the habit of drawing a red “X” through any day on the calendar he goes to the gym. The benefit of this is it quickly shows how long it has been since you’ve gone to the gym. Keeping a steady amount of X’s on your calendar is an easy way to motivate yourself.
    8. Enjoyment Before Effort – After you finish any work out, ask yourself what parts you enjoyed and what parts you did not. As a rule, the enjoyable aspects of your workout will get done and the rest will be avoided. By focusing on how you can make workouts more enjoyable, you can make sure you want to keep going to the gym.
    9. Create a Ritual – Your workout routine should become so ingrained that it becomes a ritual. This means that the time of day, place or cue automatically starts you towards grabbing your bag and heading out. If your workout times are completely random, it will be harder to benefit from the momentum of a ritual.
    10. Stress Relief – What do you do when your stressed? Chances are it isn’t running. But exercise can be a great way to relieve stress, releasing endorphin which will improve your mood. The next time you feel stressed or tired, try doing an exercise you enjoy. When stress relief is linked to exercise, it is easy to regain the habit even after a leave of absence.
    11. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. Increase in muscle can offset decreases in fat so the scale doesn’t change even if your body is. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster.
    12. Habits First, Equipment Later – Fancy equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first, only afterwards should you worry about having a personal gym.
    13. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, find out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.
    14. Start Small – Trying to run fifteen miles your first workout isn’t a good way to build a habit. Work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Otherwise you might scare yourself off after a brutal workout.
    15. Go for Yourself, Not to Impress – Going to the gym with the only goal of looking great is like starting a business with only the goal to make money. The effort can’t justify the results. But if you go to the gym to push yourself, gain energy and have a good time, then you can keep going even when results are slow.

    Read Next