Sunday, August 2, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Before I begin using all your wonderful ideas, I just wanted to ask one more time if any of you would like to do a guest blog using your wonderful idea? I don't mind doing it and it's so nice to have some fresh thoughts. But I do feel bad that you have to read my ramblings most of the time and I know you'd appreciate someone else's thinking once in a while. So, if you are interested, just let me know.

And, as always, I will be posting about whatever I feel I'm supposed to each week. So, if I don't post about your idea right away, it just means its time has yet to come.

Anyway, onto this week's topic for discussion.

I want to talk about guilt again. Just because I love it so much.

Okay, not really.

Actually, I was reflecting back on some of the experiences I had on my trip and I remembered a discussion with my family. Some of us were sharing things we've learned from various trials over the past year. Then my brother began sharing what he learned, but first sort of apologized because his trial came from choosing between two amazing opportunities. Opportunities that he's worked insanely hard to reach, I might add.

And I wanted to tell him not to apologize for having something good in his life because, honestly, I'm just SOOOOOO happy for him.

But I have a problem with interrupting that I'm working on, so I refrained.

Then I was thinking about it again today, and about how often we all do the same thing and *voila!*, I knew this is what I was supposed to post about.

Seriously, how often does something great happen to you and then instead of just living it up and truly enjoying the moment, you feel guilty. Guilty because someone else is having a bad day. Guilty because the good thing didn't happen to everyone else around you. Guilty because it seems like everyone else has a much harder life than you do.

I know I've done that plenty of times. In fact, it was something I struggled with quite a bit back in high school. I did have a pretty great life. People were always telling me I had a perfect life, actually. And they weren't too far off. But it seemed like everyone else around me was having a hard time and going through really difficult times.

So, I felt guilty. As if my happiness was somehow taking away from their potential for happiness.

Say what?

But really, guilt is supposed to be something we feel when we're doing something wrong. How is being happy wrong? It isn't. If it's true that "wickedness never was happiness", then surely the inverse is true that happiness never was wickedness.

So, why do we feel guilty?

I say that instead of the guilt, we should just enjoy the joy to its fullest extent for as long as we can. I'm sure all of you know as well as I do that even though the sun shines today there will eventually be storm clouds in each of our lives. So, if you've got the sun today then bask in it and love it. Wouldn't it be silly if I kept inside just because it's raining in Portland? Would my avoiding the sun help those wet people in Portland?

I don't think so.

Actually, they might benefit from a lovely picture of the beach.

So, in addition to just basking in the joy for your own benefit, allow yourself to be happy for the benefit of others. The great thing about joy is that it is easy to spread.

My little sister just got a wonderful job. It's at a preschool hundreds of miles from here, so I will never benefit from her job. However, it makes me happy because getting that job makes her SUPER happy. And if I was having a bad day, hearing her good news would have been even better for me.

So, don't hide your joy out of guilt, spread it around for everyone!

Have you ever been lifted by someone else's joy while enduring trials of your own? Does anyone know why we feel guilty at times of joy? Does anyone have good news they'd like to share with the rest of us?


Amy said...

Our dear wise mother once told me that guilt and gratitude cannot live in the same heart at the same time. So instead of feeling guilty when good things come your way, or when bad things happen to other people, I try to remember what she told me. I try to choose gratitude. It always makes me feel so much better! And gratitude expressed to the giver (whether Heavenly or mortal) always does more good than expressing guilt.

Linda said...

I remember when I realized what I refer to as the "G" principle - choosing between Gratitude or Guilt. A friend had seen an opportunity to serve me when I had an extremely busy day and showed up on my doorstep with a generous dinner for our family. I was a bit embarrassed about someone else doing what I thought I should have done (being the super-mom I thought I should be). Just before I began to apologize to her (expressing my guilt) I realized that might make her feel bad also. I didn't want that; I wanted her to feel happy. I recognized that the way to do that was to express my sincere gratitude for what she had done.

It was a great lesson, one of those that seems obvious when I write about it now, but required some pondering at the time. Sometimes it's hard to accept someone else's gift because we somehow think it reflects our own inadequacies. The truth is that it reflects how much we are loved. I've learned to be grateful and to express it.

love you!