The definition of guilt as proposed by eNotes Editorial is this: ‘An emotional state produced by thoughts that we have not lived up to our ideal self and could have done otherwise.’
During our monthly writers’ staff meeting, in my mind I was hastily going through the plethora of different ‘guilty pleasures’ that I have. And sure enough, there are plenty of ‘embarrassing’ ones, even though I could debate on the whole idea of how a guilty pleasure is not supposed to be considered guilty at all. Why should anyone feel guilty or feel obliged to experience a negative feeling after enjoying themselves? Could it be that a part of the guilt-tripping that we put ourselves through is because we like the idea of feeling guilty? That we just judge ourselves like nobody else could and should and would?
Pleasure for itself and in moderation does not, by virtue, possess a guilty quality. It is when a person starts to indulge themselves in excess that it becomes ‘guilty’. From personal observations and experiences, it seems to me that indulgence is one of the key steps which opens doors to the realm of guilt. Between all the silly and real ‘guilty pleasures’, there is one I would say for which you really should look out for – it is the guilty pleasure of guilt itself.