Guilty or Grateful?

Guilt is such a mixed up, overrated loss of life. I’m not referring here to the regret for doing something really wrong (causing harm to you or others), but to the inability to enjoy the present moment free and unencumbered.

You feel guilty that you’re having such a good day when so many people in the world are suffering.  You feel guilty for eating this piece of cheesecake, instead of following your diet.

Guilt is overrated because you get the impression that by feeling guilty, you’ve paid your dues.  You feel guilty about the piece of cheesecake, but you still eat it.   Other people are suffering, and you care just enough to feel guilty, but not enough to do anything about it.  We feel guilty for not being good enough, skinny enough, rich enough, perfect enough.  We feel guilty for not spending enough time with our kids, our parents and our friends.  We feel guilty and it’s infecting our whole life.  We can’t be happy.

Feeling bad feels good. Feeling guilty is thinking you’re paying a high enough price; it lets you off the hook.  Now that you feel guilty, you can just go ahead and eat the cheesecake, because you paid enough by feeling guilty.  You feel bad? Well, that’s good.

Guilt ruins happiness and life.  It makes you feel responsible in a way that no one ever should be.  It takes away your ability to feel light, happy, alive, elated, enthusiastic: how could you, when you’ve been bad and eaten cheesecake.  How could you, when there is so much misery in the world?  Guilt is a downer; it steals away happiness and life.

You are not alive to suffer guilt.  We all have our responsibilities, our burdens and difficulties.  And either you choose to do something about a situation, whether it is cheesecake or world suffering, or you don’t.  Guilt alone won’t get you anywhere, or resolve anything, at all, ever.  Guilt makes you feel powerless.

Feeling guilty is not worth it,  It’s a loss of life, it’s disrespect for the life you’ve been given and that you are entitled to enjoy, and maybe even to share your good fortune by helping others.

What it, instead of guilt… you felt gratitude?  Gratitude that you have the choice to eat cheesecake – or not.  Gratitude that you can choose to be aware of your good fortune and maybe help those who suffer – or not.  Gratitude that you are alive on this beautiful day and that you have the choice to fully enjoy it with as much hope and lightness as a five-year old.

Instead of guilt today, allow yourself to feel truly grateful, and let this moment of happiness spill and lighten your life.

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