by Carmen Visser
What is a guilty pleasure? The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary defines it as “something you enjoy, even though you feel it is not really a good thing”.
There are many different perceptions of guilty pleasures though. You might consider yours to be something you are ashamed of or a habit you should probably break. It could even be a small action you love that no one else would understand. There are handfuls of definitions for ‘guilty pleasure’ we could come up with, but one thing is certain – everyone has one (or twenty).
There are numerous guilty pleasures that have popped into my head. I have separated them into three groups:
Group 1 - The guilty pleasures we take part in when we should be doing other activities:
Eating out (or ordering takeaways) instead of cooking.
Watching a series or movie instead of studying – procrastination at its best.
Drinking a smoothie or a coffee at the gym instead of working out.
Feeling sentimental about items you find in the cupboard you should be cleaning out.
Dancing to music instead of vacuuming.
Group 2 – small and simple tasks that are adored:
Pouring three teaspoons of hot chocolate into the mug and one into your mouth.
Taking a “post-workout” photo.
After a Sunday lunch, grabbing another roast potato straight from the dish.
Driving alone with all your favourite songs blasting on the radio.
Taking home every bar of soap or bottle of shampoo from a hotel room.
Licking raw cake batter or cookie dough off a spoon.
Group 3 – personal favourite activities (that we may or may not be ashamed of):
Listening to cheesy pop music or country music.
Drinking a glass of wine after a long day.
Watching animated movies as an adult (and loving them).
Eating another slice of cake.
Having a “pyjama” day.
Hiding your favourite snacks from other family members.
Online window shopping.
Why do we feel guilty about these small activities that do no or little harm to anyone else? It might be because we have been taught that they are wrong and therefore, feel like we are breaking the rules.
That would mean we are steering away from what is expected from us, which is not that awful. We might also feel guilty because it is often an activity that we enjoy when we are alone. Having someone else there might change the atmosphere or ruin the moment and leave you wishing they would leave.
On the other hand, guilty pleasures get all the more fun when we share them with a friend or partner. It might take a lot of courage and time to open up about your guilty pleasures with someone, but once you do, there is no return. The two of you will probably be closer than before and have a guilty pleasure to enjoy together.
If we all have guilty pleasures, it would make sense to simply normalise them. The guilt would fade and the task would be completely acceptable, but this has not happened. Maybe because we enjoy things we should not be doing far more than things we are allowed to do.
If we really think about it, no one cares about your guilty pleasure. They are much too focussed on their own to worry about yours. If they do care and bother to be cruel about it, do not let it change your mind.
If your secret indulgence brings you happiness and does not hurt you or those around you, then it is okay. Maybe your guilty pleasure does not fit your “outside world” identity, but it is an essential part of you. Go on – enjoy your guilty pleasures.