Being Happy is a Choice

Our purpose in life is to be happy.
We all have activities we love or foods we crave that we think of as “guilty pleasures”, things that aren’t good for us, or that we feel would embarrass us if anyone else know about it, but that we enjoy anyway. That’s why we are here.
Maybe you like reading “airport novels”, or chick lit, or true confessions. We spend much of our lives pursuing what we believe will make us happy, but what we fail to realize is that happiness is a feeling and just thinking about what makes you happy will give you that feeling.Maybe you love double-fudge chocolate chunk ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles, or gummy worms, or expensive imported truffles. You don’t need any thing to make you feel happy, you only need the thought and you will experience the Happiness.Maybe you cry in cheesy romantic comedies, or obsess over 1960’s B-movies, or scream like a little girl in slasher pics.

If you want a new job, imagine being in the position you want and earning the salary you desire; by doing so, you already have the feeling of Happiness even before you get the job.
Whatever it is, your pleasure is tempered somewhat by guilt. Of course, you still want to get the job, since you can’t go shopping with your feelings, but the end result is already yours.Some guilty pleasures make us feel guilty because they’re so bad for us — fattening foods, time-wasting games, IQ-sucking sitcoms. You have already created the job, in your mind, by having the feeling.Others aren’t necessarily bad for us, but we fear for the effect on our reputations if word got out. All you must do is to allow it to materialize and take the steps you feel are necessary.They make us look “low-class” or “non-intellectual” or “unprofessional” or “immature”. You might want to brush up on your skills so when your interview comes around you are more qualified and prepared.
The guilt ultimately arises, though, from the pleasure itself.

The sense of accomplishment, opportunity to work at something you love and the increased income, which you associate with your new job, are created by thoughts.Our modern society, with it’s “work work work ethic” and deeply-bred commitment to constant self-improvement — through dieting, through “extreme” sports, through self-help books, through a never-ending stream of products and media that all promise a “better you!” — holds pleasure in rather low esteem. Thoughts are real and will attract that situation, or a similar one, into your life.It is seen, at best, as a reward, though a somewhat disreputable one, for the success of all that work work work. On the other hand, since you already have the happy feeling, you might decide you like your current job.
But more often it’s seen as a luxury, and a dispensable one at that. Either way you can’t lose since, no matter what the outcome, you’re already happy.The poor are held in contempt for their continued willingness to own DVD players, the rich for their decadence.

To quote Wallace Wattles from The science of Getting Rich, Man must pass from the competitive to the creative mind; he must form a clear mental picture of the things he wants, and hold this picture in his thoughts with the fixed PURPOSE to get what he wants, and the unwavering FAITH that he does get what he wants, closing his mind against all that may tend to shake his purpose, dim his vision, or quench his faith.Food, we are told, is solely for the nourishment of the body; sex, we are told, is solely for the reproduction of the species.

We were all born happy.Pleasure for pleasure’s sake is to be avoided, and those who seek it are to be shunned. As small children we played, laughed and giggled throughout the day.
Hence the guilty pleasure — the thing we do just because it makes us feel good. We didn’t need anyone to tell us what we desired; in fact, we were willing to throw tantrums in order to get our way.It’s shameful to seek after the “empty calories” of the sugary snack, fluffy novel, or childish hobby. We ate what we wanted and did as we pleased; resisting, without hesitation, anything we didn’t like.It’s a betrayal of the fundamental principles our society is built on. At that young age, when we became unhappy, we protested wholeheartedly by crying, kicking, screaming or trying to run away.
It’s time to strike the phrase “guilty pleasure” from your vocabulary. Happiness was so essential to us then, we were willing to put 100 percent of our energy into anything that would help us attain and preserve our happy state.
The idea that those things that distract us from the “real” work of living should be held in contempt is, of course, good for those who profit most from our work, but it’s no good for the rest of us. If we wanted a toy and it was given to us, we were delighted and totally content.Work is good, of course — things need to get done — but work without pleasure is for automatons, not human beings. If our plaything was taken from us, it became an overwhelming tragedy.Indeed, it is the “guilty pleasures” we should feel least guilty about, because they re the things in which we are more fully our own people.

As we got older, we learned to accept that which didn’t make us happy–setting aside what we really desired.
Behind the concept of the guilty pleasure is a demand for conformity. In addition, we learned that there are things we must do whether we liked it or not; that’s just the way life is.Don’t eat that, watch that, read that, do that, be that. That was the lie we chose to believe, but it’s not the way life is supposed to be.It is an insistence that there are certain things we’re supposed to eat, watch, read, do, be, if we are to be taken seriously as adults. You don’t have to accept or settle for anything.It is an insistence, in fact, on being “normal” — or even worse, “average”. All you have to do is to have the intention to be happy, remember how it feels to be happy, and decide that you are happy.
I defy that.

I hear you thinking, “But certainly, if something’s unhealthy for you, and you do it anyway, you should feel guilty about it — it’s the only way you’re gong to stop!” And sure, if your diet consists solely of guilty pleasures, if your reading is entirely guilty pleasures, if your life is consumed by the quest for ever-more guilty pleasures, that’s a problem. If your guilt stems from your concern over a lack of willpower or discipline that is causing you real harm, you absolutely should be dealing with that. It’s probably not the guilty pleasure that’s to blame, though — you need to work out some balance in your life as a whole.
But more often, our guilty pleasures are an exception, a small part of a life that’s otherwise already well-balanced. Which is to say, you can probably afford to indulge in a guilty pleasure or two without any guilt. If it gives you pleasure and isn’t likely to kill you, by all means, dig in!

Same thing with the rest of the guilty pleasures. If your guilt stems from the fear of what other people would think if they knew, and you’re no longer in middle school, you need to deal with your lack of self-confidence, not your appreciation of Top 40 music.
As with so much else, it boils down to a question of balance. If your life is chugging along just fine, thank you, and you just happen to have an inordinate fondness for Troll dolls, I say know yourself out. On the other hand, if your eating habits or entertainment preferences leave you unprepared to deal with your life — or if they’re the only consolation in your life — you need to give some serious thought to discovering more nourishing pleasures — or building a more nourishing life.


The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Want more? Sign up for our daily email.