What’s Guilt Got To Do With It?

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Recently a friend mentioned that she had enjoyed an afternoon spent during our Northern California rainstorms alone in her cozy room reading a good book - a lovely few hours she called a ‘guilty pleasure’. Why not simply a pleasure?  So often women (and sometimes men, in this culture) feel the need to apologize for time spent relaxing, unwinding or taking a moment for pure enjoyment - with an unconscious belief that to be unproductive makes us less worthy. Another friend confided that her husband had wanted to surprise her with a pop-up trip across the country for two days, and she felt overwhelmed with the idea of arranging and rearranging everything to make it possible - “Is it ‘bad’ that I don’t want to go?”, she asked? I realized how often I use this same phrase, when I just can’t - or don’t want - to rally. Is it BAD if I don’t want to do this? Lately I have become more aware of these negative figures of speech as they creep their way into every day conversations, and I realize that ‘bad’ and ‘guilty’ create a negative mindset that makes my world darker and my heart heavier.

These two examples illustrate simple words that we often throw around without really thinking, but are reflective of the cultural groupthink that 'busy is better' - and the more productive we are, the better we are. Sometimes we just want and need to do less, and that need can be highlighted during the winter months. Our bodies naturally sync to a seasonal rhythm, and with shorter days, darker skies, and colder weather it is time to build reserves and turn inward. In other cultures people don’t feel the pressure to be outside and totally active during this time, allowing their bodies time to rest and reset, so they are able to glide through the other seasons of the year in health and balance.

I leave you with two messages (that I intend to listen to, as well!) - first, pay attention to your body and honor what it needs. And last - embrace joy and fulfillment and contentment wherever you find it. Strike ‘guilty’ and ‘bad’ from your personal wordbook…and never feel guilty about pleasures again!