Fran Lebowitz said it best...
"I think it's unbelievable that there is such a phrase as guilty pleasure, unless your pleasure is killing people.
My pleasures are absolutely benign...and, I think; no, I do not feel guilty for having pleasure"
It's taken me nearly 30 years to really own the idea that my pleasure does not need to be earned, does not need to be rationalized and certainly does not have to come with a side of guilt, shame or anxiety. In part, I can attribute this to a mildly catholic upbringing, but honestly, I think I would have picked up the idea that I wasn't worthy of pleasure just by looking out at the world.
We're bombarded with advertisements of lower calorie food options, workouts designed to help us "earn" those weekend cocktails and don't even get me started on on the depths people go to in order to dismiss or put off their sexual pleasure. If any of this led to enlightenment, a higher quality of life or even a lick more joy, I might be aligned, but take a look around....we're sick, depressed, addicted, overweight and burnt out. Putting our pleasure in the closet and hoping it'll just die IS. NOT. WORKING.
You see, the moment we refuse to look at something or deem it "too dangerous", we become enslaved to it. Let's use food, for example...
Person starts diet
Person becomes obsessed with all of the food they can't have
Person spends their entire Friday night demolishing a pizza, ice cream & Oreos
Person spends Saturday in a shame spiral on their spin bike and vows never to break said diet again
Repeat until the end of time...
Sound like anyone you might know?
But here's the thing...when we allow our pleasures into out conscious mind & look at it like they're not the devil, we allow ourselves to make a conscious decision about how we'd like to interact with it. Here's another example...
Person has a sexual fantasy they'd like to bring into reality
They can either avoid this "dark & scary" thought, or take a look at it, play with the fantasy, really begin to understand what would feel good to them
Person has a conversation with their partner, hops onto a sex positive app like Feeld or finds a local kink community where a healthy dialogue is exchanged and that fantasy can be lived out in a way that truly allows this person to settle deep into their pleasure and complete the loop
No shame spiral on Saturday morning, certainly no guilt & a little extra pep in their step as they return to work on Monday
It's a process to find yourself in a balanced place with pleasure, and takes a responsibility over ones' life to live harmoniously with it, but the option is there for you whenever you're ready to take it. Not sure where to start? Here are a few questions to help you assess your pleasure and begin to explore it:
Imagine you have the day off, you don't have access to your email or anything that feels like "work"....what's the first thing you'd do?
What kind of activities do you reserve for vacation? How might you like to bring them into your day to day life?
If your pleasure was your only guide, how would you spend your Saturday? (if a day feels too daunting, what about an hour or two?
When do you feel the most joy and bliss?
Close your eyes, imagine the last thing that felt so good it gave you goosebumps, what was it?
Life is short. Your pleasure can't wait.