Guilty Pleasures

Speaking of vices (as I did in my last post), I’ve recently been thinking about guilty pleasures. Most of my life, I never really had a guilty pleasure and always felt super-lame when asked. I would embarrassedly admit (then insist) that I was not interesting enough to have one. Until now!

The Pleasure

I am an educated, intelligent, and mostly rational individual. I believe in the scientific method. I am quick to check out of conversations at the scent of woo woo. Yet tarot has captivated me!

I was initially drawn to the dreamlike imagery of a particular deck of cards – “Dreaming Way Tarot,” created by Rome Choi and illustrated by Kwon Shina. It was sitting on a shelf in a small shop among cheesy, themed decks: vampire, ghost, fairy, etc.

While I am not a stranger to impulse purchases, this was not one of them; I would pick up the deck every time I went to that particular shop and study the deck’s rendition of the High Priestess on its cover and read the description on its back. I may have talked myself out of the purchase had I not looked up the other cards online. Seriously, guys, it’s gorgeous!

Fast forward two years: I have ten decks and about as many books on tarot, I’m in the middle of a four-week e-course by my favorite tarot resource Daily Tarot Girl, and I’m starting to talk about it.

The Guilt

As an educated, intelligent, and mostly rational individual—who also works in a healthcare office—I find that it’s difficult to tell people about this particular interest of mine without qualifications: I use tarot for introspection and self-reflection, not fortune telling; I don’t believe the cards have any sort of mystical properties; etc.

Why can’t I just enjoy something without feeling guilty about it? I’ve never felt the need to justify why I like playing video games or crafting or eating or cuddling my cat.

The Science

A study by Dr. Kelly Goldsmith at Northwestern University found that guilt and pleasure are actually linked in our subconscious. How fucked is that?

Goldsmith first had participants in the study unscramble sentences; some participants were given scrambled sentences containing guilt-related words (i.e. “sin”) and the others were given ones with more neutral words. Next, the participants were asked to complete words containing only the first couple letters (i.e. “E N _ _ _”). While participants could have completed the words in any way they chose (the above could be “enact” or “ennui”), those who had the guilt-related sentences were more likely to choose pleasure-related words (in this case, more of them chose the word “enjoy”).

It doesn’t stop there. Goldsmith gave the participants candy, and those in the “guilty” group reported enjoying the sweets more than those in the neutral group. (For those of you whose guilty pleasure is eating junk food, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.)

I guess the lesson is: the next time you feel guilty about something, quickly do the thing you feel guilty about—you’ll enjoy it even more!

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to take a peek at the third week of materials for my tarot e-course, which were just released this morning. AFK!

-a very giddy Angela

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