“Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.” ~Leo Tolstoy
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an epic list of guilty pleasures.
As a young girl, my top three guilty pleasures included dressing up and dancing in my living room to Madonna (“Annnnd…VOGUE!”), watching over-the-top nighttime dramas with my mom over bowls of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream (“Kevin…I’m pregnant! And you’re not the father!”), and penning addictive, soap-opera-worthy novellas about the kids in my fifth grade class (they’d line up and beg for the next chapter).
I found so much joy and fulfillment in those activities. And while I jokingly call them “guilty pleasures,” I never felt a single pang of remorse.
As a grown-up girl, my guilty pleasures follow a similar strain: booty-shaking hip-hop classes, binge-watching Game of Thrones, and eating anything with the words “chocolate” and “peanut butter” (or both).
Oh, and I’m penning a screenplay that’s one-part erotic paranormal romance, and one-part political thriller. (Obviously.)
Clearly, I’ve got a lifelong passion for guilty pleasures—and I’m fascinated by how our bodies respond to our favorite ones.
How our boundaries dissolve. How our curiosity ignites. How we find ourselves with an insatiable need to indulge (NOW!) before we explode with anticipation. (If you’re hopelessly addicted to any juicy TV series, you know what I’m talking about.)
Guilty pleasures are exhilarating, and there’s no denying that they bring oodles of fun to our lives.
So, why don’t we indulge in these pleasures more often?
I believe the word “guilty” may be the culprit. For some of us, it’s hard to even say the phrase “guilty pleasure” without feeling a prickle of shame.
And that semantic buzz kill needs a definition makeover.
I’ve decided to re-define the term “guilty pleasure” as something that ignites and electrifies you in a way that should be totally illegal, but isn’t. It’s something you should enjoy every day, with wild abandon. It doesn’t (necessarily) have to be unhealthy or calorie-laden, but it’s got to feel decadent.
Now that you have complete permission to pursue your most electrifying passions, here’s a peek at 10 ways you can make your whole life feel like one big guilty pleasure.
1. Schedule daily guilty pleasure breaks.
No more guilt means no more excuses to avoid partaking in your favorite pleasures.
You now have full permission to take a break from work and read that enticing gossip blog, catch up on the latest season of your favorite show, or revel in a romance novel (or audio-book—who’s gonna know?) and savor it while pumping away on the elliptical machine.
2. Spice up boring to-dos.
Loathe folding laundry? Detest doing the dishes? Crying into Quicken? Crank up the music that makes you grin like a goofball (classic Justin Timberlake, anyone?) and shimmy while doing your chores. Even Gwyneth Paltrow rocks 90s hip hop while cooking her uber-healthy, organic meals.
3. Create guilty pleasure play dates.
Stuck in an “activity rut” with your significant other, family, and friends? Instead of dinner at “the usual place,” infuse your favorite guilty pleasures into your play dates. Get creative: host an at-home triathlon (video game competition, quickie card game, or a cupcake-eating contest!) or take a guided ghost tour of haunted historical buildings in your city. Spooky!
4. Just giggle.
Nothing lowers stress like a good chuckle. Create a giggle bank of hilarious YouTube videos (the boys from Saturday Night Live + T-Pain = win!), Awkward Family Photos, and hilarious blog posts (The Bloggess never fails). Get yourself in stitches, daily.
5. Try something brand new.
For an instant boost of pleasure and adrenaline, try something you’ve never done before, but always fantasized about. Channel your inner Gustav Klimt at a nude figure-drawing class (Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is always a delight!), find your local Ultimate Frisbee League, or try an aerial yoga class.
Give yourself permission, and enjoy every clumsy attempt. You may spark a new lifelong hobby!
6. Do a tedium detox.
This kind of “detox” isn’t about gulping kale-infused liquids. It’s about clearing out everything that’s tired, tedious, and boring.
Rummage through your closet and get rid of anything that doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks. Donate old books you’re never going to read, toss stale ingredients that hog your cabinets, and chuck dusty relics that make your home feel like a cluttered mess.
Once you cleanse the un-pleasurable, fill those spaces with items that delight and inspire. (Or, just leave some empty space. Ahhhh.)
7. Try on a new character.
Ever wish you were a Sherlock Holmes-worthy super spy? Or an adorkable hipster like Zooey Deschanel? A head-turning hunk, or traffic-stopping bombshell?
Instead of throwing on your usual “uniform” in the morning, try dressing like your alter-ago—and live out your day as this new character. This could mean a little harmless flirting with the local barista, strolling through the city in a bright sundress with a parasol, or jotting down secret notes as you observe passersby, at an outdoor cafe.
8. Make pampering a priority.
Ladies, remember how much fun it was to play with scented lotions, glittery nail polish, and cake-batter-flavored lip gloss when you were a tween?
Primping and pampering yourself is (still) absolutely essential. Bring back the joy with a quickie 10-minute scalp massage, a mini-pedicure, or a pre-bedtime back rub from your partner. To keep it simple, just take a few extra moments in the shower to lather up and let your mind wander. Completely cathartic.
9. Keep conversations centered on pleasure.
I once read—in a glossy magazine, of course—that the French find it rude to discuss work, religion, or politics at dinner parties, and focus their banter on movies, art, and music. Infuse every conversation with joie de vivre by asking, “So, what are your favorite guilty pleasures?”
You can enjoy a conversation with anyone if you shift the conversation to pleasure.
10. Build a guilty pleasure emergency kit.
If you suffer from excruciating headaches, you probably tote a mini-emergency kit around in your handbag or briefcase. Why not build a Guilty Pleasure Emergency Kit for a mood-boosting pick-me-up?
Put together a bundle of scintillating magazines, juicy novels, caramel-laced chocolate (or whatever floats your pleasure-boat) and label it “For Emergency Use Only.”
Of course, you may find yourself “inventing” a dire emergency (“What?! The post office is closed on Sundays?!”) just to give yourself a reason to indulge. And that’s just fine.
It’ll be our delicious little secret.
Photo by Henry_Spencer