Guilty Pleasures

We just came home from a family vacation. After each day’s adventures, we would retreat to our hotel room. And every day, there were treats left on the nightstand by the hotel staff. One day it was tiny cupcakes, another day chocolate truffles and the next shortbread cookies. Each day, they were carefully arranged on a little plate with a note reading, “Sweet dreams!”

This quickly became a guilty pleasure for me. I would return to the room, and my eyes would go directly to the nightstand to see what morsel of decadence could be found there. Even if we had just come from dinner, I would scurry over to the table, so excited to see what new, delicious treat I might discover. After biting into whatever sweets I had found, I would immediately think, “I can’t believe I just did that… I just ate a giant dinner… I don’t need any more junk food… I should have eaten fruit instead if I was hungry.” 

After a few days of this routine, I found myself halfway through a tasty coconut macaroon, filled to the brim with the noisy chatter of guilty thinking. As I savored the bite, I thought about something. I didn’t want it to be a guilty pleasure. I wanted it to be a plain old pleasure. A small moment of joy, something I fully enjoyed as part of vacation and family and good food.

So for the rest of our vacation, I enjoyed every last crumb of these little pleasures. Each of them delicious. And none of them with even the slightest bitter aftertaste of guilt.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.