Bad reality TV shows you gleefully binge-watch from the privacy of your own home. Cheesy romance novels you only consume behind closed doors. Annoying pop songs you just can’t help but sing along to. We describe these all as “guilty pleasures.” But why do we feel guilty for doing the things we thoroughly enjoy?
By using the term “guilty pleasure” we prove that we’re 100% self-aware and totally in on the joke. Yes, we can admit we love The Real Housewives, but in the same sentence, we also acknowledge that it’s a terrible show. This is either because we know we’re not supposed to like it or liking it says something negative about us. But what is negative about experiencing genuine joy at no harm to others? Nothing.
In fact, enjoying our chosen “guilty pleasure” is actually a positive thing if we do it in moderation. We spend a lot of time being productive and solving problems around the clock. And if we don’t take breaks, it can take a major toll on our overall happiness. Participating in mindless activities or soaking in content that doesn’t require much brain power gets us out of that always-on headspace. And when we feel at ease, we tend to have more positive engagements with the people around us. It’s a win-win.
But doesn’t binge-watching eight episodes of Jersey Shore melt our brains? Nope! Though our problems don’t disappear while we watch all the drama unfold, it does reduce our stress levels. And that helps with our overall perception of our ability to handle whatever daunting tasks lay ahead.
Last but certainly not least is the way “guilty pleasures” create bonds between us humans. Reality TV and catchy pop songs are abundant because they resonate with people. Whatever your favorite pastime is, it is certainly someone else’s as well. Talking openly about what we love creates friendships and bonds between people that ultimately help shape our lives. There is no shame in that.
But that doesn’t mean you should dump your day job to indulge in Netflix full-time. Like the old saying goes: everything in moderation. Overindulging can actually lead to negative feelings such as being less satisfied with our lives. It’s crucial to accept what brings us pleasure and then find the balance that works for us as individuals.
So, let’s give ourselves some credit. These days we’re constantly available, more productive than ever and almost always in problem-solving mode. We deserve some much-needed relaxation and enjoyment with no guilt attached. It’s a crucial part of being human, which you must be if you’re reading this. Sit back, relax and indulge for a few. Then, as always, back to work.