Lately my life has become this magic, playful carnival- lots of color, vibrancy and feel good fun times (and the occasional terrifying carnie encounter!). Of course I'm grateful. I'm a yogi and in the community we talk a lot of good talk about gratitude- how blessed we all are...OM! Namaste! But beneath it all, I've discovered a certain level of guilt. What have I ever done to deserve this beautiful life? Why do I get to live in a strong, healthy body with a strong, loving support network in a beautiful place where it's sunny and warm in January?
Why is it so hard to just say "Yes! Thank you!"? Whoever said we should feel bad about feeling good?
The Catholic Church is an easy target, so let's start there. My grandma, as devout a Catholic as I am a yogi, has actually said that we're meant to suffer in this life in order to sort of earn bliss in the afterlife. What? Are you sure? Because I'm pretty sure that this life is filled with things from God meant to make me happy right now (see: Ice Cream, Yoga, Kissing). Should I have been wincing while enjoying these things this whole time? People make jokes about the whole "Catholic guilt" phenomenon, but it's a serious precedent to be subtly (or not so subtly) raised with. Enjoyment seems to indicate some kind of sin, but we all really want to be happy, so we do these things that make us happy but then we have to feel bad because being happy must mean we're doing something contrary to God's word. Again, what?
Being fairly indulgent and a little lazy, I may not be the most neutral person to speak to the virtues of feel good activities. The fact is, though, that when properly inspired and directed, I will work my skinny little behind off with the same passion and intensity I usually reserve for dairy and arm balances. If I've ever helped you move, you can attest to my excellent, tireless work ethic. I am a woman who gets the job done. I just don't think we should have to work as much as frequently as we do. Why 40 hours a week? Why not 30? Who decided that two weeks off a year is enough time to rest and renew? Now we can point the finger at the Puritans, who, like the Catholics, believed that everything that felt nice was evil temptation. Chaucer came up with the handy line "idle hands are the devil's tools" and those boring Puritans ran with it, founding a country based on an obsession with work and repression. Do you really not think that God wants you to have fun, guys? The existence of puppies, sunny parks and bicycles makes that hard to believe.
Well, I've had it. I don't want to feel bad about my mega joy level anymore. Why do I get to live such a charmed life? I don't know. Because! That's why! Am I going to feel bad about all the opportunities I get to play? Nope. Why? Because I look for and pursue them. How about we all take responsibility for our lives. If you want more playtime, get it. Make it happen. You don't have to feel guilty about feeling good. God made the body to respectfully, lovingly enjoy. Chase your bliss and stop apologizing for it.