How to be an Infectious Lover of Life and not Feel Guilty

love life - stick your head in a crocodile's mouth!

Would you stick your head in a crocodile’s mouth just for kicks?!

Do you go through life with a skip and a bounce or are you just plodding along?

Something that has always intrigued me is how some people have an infectious love of life, whereas others seem to be like death warmed up.

What makes some people naturally exuberant?

One of the reasons must be our conditioning as to just what is acceptable in terms of being joyous.

Last week, a friend forwarded me an email with some words of inspiration from some spiritual organisation. The email contained a paragraph full of do’s and don’t do’s and usually I just delete such emails but one line really grabbed my attention:-

“…… Get away from the company of materialistic persons. Manifest in the poor, sick, and the distressed…….”

I wondered – what’s wrong with materialistic people? And why manifest in the poor, sick and the distressed?

So many of our teachings advocate us to practice austerity, sacrifice, suffering and so on. And as a result, many of us go through a life devoid of much joy.

For instance, were you told to be always “good” by your parents and teachers?! But being good in this context often involved being restrained, quiet and serious. So for quite a few people, parents and teachers often squeezed the joy out of their lives.

Reminds me of this phrase – the meek will inherit the earth. I saw this graffiti once – “the meek will inherit the earth… if it’s okay with the rest of you”:-)

Some people just do not believe in being happy and optimistic.

Have you ever been told not to be so positive, optimistic and happy since it was not going to last?

Some cultures and teachings also talk about the world coming to an end on a certain subscribed day. If your teachers and your elders tell you that the world is going to end in 2 years time, then that kind of takes away your enthusiasm and juice for living today!!!

I think the idea is that in your next life or some afterlife, you have heaven to look forward to and so as to guarantee your ticket, you had better be “good” in this life.

But my point is why wait to experience joy in the next life or in heaven, when you could have it all now?

Here’s a great quote, shared by my friend Jeffrey Tang of The Art of Great Things (do check out his blog today):-

“The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and LIVE.” – Ayn Rand

I don’t know about you, but I am not even sure that there is a heaven to look forward to – and so I don’t want to take a chance on missing out on having all the fun and joy I can whilst I am here!

If enjoying my time here means enjoying material things, then why not?

even holy man believe in having a good time!

Bear in mind though that I am not advocating rampant consumerism such as what you get in so much of the West and now increasingly in other parts of the world.

Also don’t get me wrong either about what I mean by enjoying your life – I am all for being of service to others and being kind. But why should we be miserable and poor whilst doing so!

Though you have to live and abide by society’s norms and follow accepted rights and wrongs, it is still up to you to choose your own values within that framework. It is your path and your journey.

So form today onwards lighten up – and always remember that life is short and it is a crime to go through life with a miserable face.

Time to stop feeling guilty

One major thing that stops people from having more fun is a sense of guilt. It goes likes this – why should I be having so much fun and joy whilst there is so much misery and unhappiness all around me and in the world at large?

However, get this – it is not your fault others have less or there is unhappiness in the world.

Do you think those who have more than you materially, are stopping their lives just because poor you is in their thoughts?

I am not suggesting a free for all scenario either. Sure, you must have a conscience and have due consideration for others and you should focus on doing good for the world, but at the same time, don’t put your life on hold until a better day, one day, some day, which may never arrive.

Go through life being happy now rather than miserable, make a difference where you can AND enjoy the material things that the world has to offer.

All within reason of course. Make sure to be green at the same time:-)

And just avoid those crocodiles whilst you are out partying – they are not greatly conducive to increasing your joy!

Top photo courtesy of A. www.viajar24h.com
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  1. RT @ArvindDevalia: How to be an Infectious Lover of Life and not Feel Guilty http://is.gd/8xyFF

  2. How to be an Infectious Lover of Life and not Feel Guilty http://goo.gl/fb/Pe7N #findyourjoy

  3. This article reminds of a favorite quote of mine:

    “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and LIVE.” – Ayn Rand

    There’s far too much unnecessary guilt in the world (“How dare you enjoy yourself when somewhere someone’s suffering?!), which tells me first and foremost that the basic moral truths we all accept need to be reexamined.

    I like where you’re going with this, Arvind :)

    • Jeffrey, I love your quote.

      I am going to add it to my list of favourite quotes – and also share it on Facebook – more people need to live like this.

      I have also added it into the body of my post as it goes so well with my point.

      Thanks, blogging superstar!

      (Folks, if you have not checked out Jeffrey’s blog at http://artofgreatthings.com/, please do so today and subscribe)

  4. Arvind,

    As buddha said life has pain and suffering and we should embrace it. Without pain one will not know they joy of recovery! sadness and happiness, are up and down of our lives. Very well written post!! I

    However feeling guilty is something I wish I know how to work on, as a parent of 2 tiny kids and being a daughter brings, joy and guilt of both side from my mom and as well as kids, a sandwich generation, pressured from both sides..

    • Zengirl, the Buddha was clearly quite a wise!

      The irony is that though most people would rather have happiness than sadness, the very things they do and believe in add to their sadness and unhappiness. Maybe our life journey is to fathom out just how to get more joy in our lives.

      As for guilt, it can be rather debilitating. I am working on a future post about how to work your way through it so look out for that. But for now know that there is no pleasing everyone.

      Without knowing anything about just what causing the pressure for you, maybe you could look into ways of compromising between your kids and your mom – at the end of the day they all want the same things from you – your attention, affection and love.

  5. The way I see it, it all comes down to choices. The choice to be happy here and now is so much more appealing, at least for me, than to stew in anger and holding out for nirvana in the future. Love this post!

    • Belinda, the thought of you stewing in anger brought up some horrible images for me. I have been there, done it and looking back, I now cringe when I visualise myself as Mr Angry!

      Let’s all choose to be happy and create our Nirvana NOW.

  6. Christopher Kabamba says:

    I am not an “out and out” person, but with time i have learnt to enjoy the pleasures of life without any guilt.

    Many times i do so, lost in the wonders of quietness and inner peace; at other times it is with a mighty scream… but everytime feeling content with the direction my life is taking.

    Thank you for your inspiration

    • Christopher, I presume that by saying that you are not an “out and out” person, you mean that you are not at either extreme of being a killjoy or a hedonist!

      Next time I feel pangs of guilt surfacing, I shall follow your lead and I shall also SCREAM!

  7. Hey, great post Arvind, thanks fa sharing it on fb.. Thats one site that I’m quite regular at :)
    Your post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes on happiness: ” People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I believe that its all in your mind at the end of the day.

    About the topic of guilt that we slightly touched here, I’d like to probably make ma own quote for guilt too ,
    “U are as guilty as “you” make up you mind to be”. We are all humans and we all make mistakes, but rather than carrying the guilt of our mistakes, we should learn from them and move on. Its another mistake to not learn from them and keep feeling guilty u know!.. And everyday of our life is a new day, new moments to experience life the way it comes and “decide” to relish it and do what makes us happy.. its all in our own hands at the end of it all, what we do with our life .

    So, @Zengril ~ stop feeling guilty and start from “right now”. Spread love and kindness around ur kids and your parents.. do what makes you happy, it will make them happy too :) God Bless!

    • Thanks Riya for sharing your quotes – as you say, people can choose to decide just how happy they want to be and just how guilty too.

      Time to learn from your mistakes and move on. And make others happy through your own happiness:-)

      Riya, you have some great ideas and you are very articulate – when are starting that long promised blog?!

      • :) Thank you! :)
        Oops! I know..I am still struggling with a 14hours job these days to find time :( But yes, I have it in my mind and will definitely write one one day and look forward for all your support and guidance! I am struggling with my mind to find ideas and also find a little time on my hand so that I finally decide to sit down and do nothing but devote all my time in writing that one article as a start! ..I want to make sure its helpful to others, and that others gain some insights from it.. ..So, I have my mind open to ideas and suggestions.. Do you have any? Please feel free to share ‘em :)
        In the meanwhile, keep me posted with your great blogs :) Cheers! :)

  8. Being guilty for trying to enjoy yourself is an odd custom, especially when the world needs so much more joy. There is a challenge with this though. How do you find what you really want? The modern world regularly manipulates our wants, finding out what it is we are really after is one of the most freeing and powerful things one can do.

    • Welcome back, Justin! You have been missed.

      Thought we may not know what will make us truly happy, we can still create our daily moments of joy such as walks in the park, our favourite ice-cream or a cuddle with a loved one.

      Talking of ice-cream, have you ever been made to feel guilty for eating too much?!

      On that note, I am just off for a walk in the park – and then maybe a large tub of ice-cream on the way back:-)

  9. By the way, I have a question, why is it that my face here is shown as a sad face? :P I am wondering how to put up a nice smiling face dat represents me or for that matter, my own face here?? :)

  10. Cheryl Paris says:

    Great Post!!!
    As you have mentioned: “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and LIVE.” – Ayn Rand
    Hence we should follow: “Now is everything” as Life is short. We need to fill it with good memories.
    “…… Get away from the company of materialistic persons. Manifest in the poor, sick, and the distressed…….” This is so true…. Materialistic things can provide temporary happiness however to achieve the Spiritual happiness we need to manifest in the poor, sick and the distressed.
    We think that Happiness as Goal – Happiness is never a goal. It can’t be your new car, your new house, your new career. It can’t be your family, your kids, your friends… Happiness is a process. Happiness is the journey, not the destination.

    Cheers,
    Cheryl Paris Blog

    • Cheryl, that’s a great quote from Ayn Rand, shared by my friend Jeffrey Tang.

      As for the quote, “…… Get away from the company of materialistic persons. Manifest in the poor, sick, and the distressed…….” , I am actually disagreeing with the essence of not being materialistic and with manifesting in the poor, sick and the distressed.

      All that may be true but my point is that we can also enjoy material things whilst being kind to others and being of service.

      But as you say, happiness is a process, a journey and not the destination. All I am saying is that on this journey, you can be joyous and have an infectious love of life. Otherwise, without any joy, what’s the point?!

  11. fiona O'Hanlon says:

    Great Blog Arvind.

    Really meaningful for most people. Thank you up front. I have only had time to read 5 posts but will finish at my lunch.

    Guilt, pessimism, negativity, all outside emotions and generaly have roots in childhood experiences from our environment and authority figures. The hardest part about guilt is observing it in ourselves and when we do can we undo our conditioning to unravel it. It takes time and observation.

    A little trick for me at least is to say to myself the kindness and generosity you afford to others needs to be returned to self.

    In other words be your own best friend.

    I have observed many wealthy people in my life , who have every material afvantage and inside feel hollow and empty, thence this knowingness often propels many into works of charity. I spoke with a friend last night and concluded that spirituality, financial comfort as opposed to ostentacious wealth, and close meaningful human relationships are what makes us happy.

    In short (joke says arvind), forgive yourself, be kind to yourself as you would your closest friend, write down on a sheet of paper all the wonderful things in your life and acknowledge them.

    On the otherside write down the not so good. Some of them are the way you may be looking, so change your thinking. The others – go do something about them today. And be happy because all we have is now. I shall go now and do what I am payed to, but I would much rather stay and chat.

    Yes, I talk too much………. Bye.

    Just thought of something, I think women feel guilt and thence unhappiness more than men. Perhaps I am wrong!

    • Fiona, always good to have your in-depth comments here!

      And it is wonderful that you share your wisdom and ideas at length – you can never talk too much:-)

      You have shared some great ideas, but I am not sure that women suffer more guilt than men – maybe women just show their feelings more rather than bottling them up.

      I thnk the best thing is to be your own best friend – and treat yourself like that accordingly.

  12. Arvind – this post is really pertinent for me. I have spent the last few years trying to be more spiritual and looking inside for answers. It has been hugely valuable, however I realized that somewhere down the line I was taking it all so seriously. Somewhere I’d forgotten to actually enjoy life and the world we live in as well. Taking this advice has liberated me – I’m finding that middle path between spiritual enlightenment and living life right here on earth. I suspect that finding that balance will be a life long challenge for me, along with most of us mortals – but it should be fun to try. Thanks as always.

    Phil

    • Phil, wonderful. Life is far too short to be taken seriously.

      We can all the joy in the world, whilst also living mindfully and consciously. I once read somewhere that the greatest spiritual thing you can do for yourself is to take care of all your basic needs and to be joyous.

      Maybe we should start with focussing on the joy and the rest will follow. Living rightfully and with purpose will surely lead to more joy.

  13. People get far too caught up in materialism, religion, spirituality, and even self-improvement. It’s all the movement of the ego. The purpose of life is to live consciously, rather than live reactively according to conditioning and accumulated beliefs. One to live naturally is to develop Awareness, stillness. And release all the rubbish.

    Thanks, great article.

    • Kaushik, I wholeheartedly agree – people can get into too much navel gazing and simply forget about living!

      I used to attend a lot of personal development events but ceased to do so once I realised I was hearing the same message regurgitated. Also, I was seeing the same people at these events all the time (I was one of them!).

      LIving consciously is clearly the way forward

  14. Hey Arvind,

    You’re so right Arvind, some people have a fear of positivity because they have this belief that doing so will cause bad things to happen. Sometimes, that is the case but the positivity is not the cause.

    There’s a subtle undertone in that thinking that of caution. When you think in that way without reservation that’s when good things come to you.

    You can live frugal and be happy, that’s the best way to live and the two compliment each other.

    Love the picture!

    • Amit, glad you liked the picture, one of my favourites.

      Living frugally is fine as long as you have chosen to do and you have no expectation of a future reward.

  15. Hi Arvind,

    I recently did the exercise of trying to figure out how many days I have left to live, assuming I live to 90. It’s really freaky to see a finite number of days you have let on Earth, but it also made me realize that each day is a gift. I don’t want to waste a single one of them doing stuff that I don’t want to do or feeling angry, stressed, or disengaged in life. I spent some time really figuring out what’s important to me, and now I try every day to live my life around my passions and values. Now I control my life. It doesn’t control me. It’s wonderful!!
    By the way, I am a fellow Bootcamper! I love your blog!!

    Barrie

    • Barrie, it can quite frightening and also a wake up call when you count the number of days remaining in your life!

      And that number can be much, much smaller than we think. I remember when I lost my father 2 years ago. It was such a shock – I had assumed he would always be there for me.

      You have a wonderful approach to life and it’s inspiring how you have figured out what’s important to you.

      I look forward to connecting with you further in the Blogging Club – and sharing this amazing journey together.

      Good luck!

      Arvind

  16. Zoli Cserei says:

    Hey Arvind,

    I really liked how you kickstarted this post with that question. Many of us are quite proud and often say that they are so brave and take so much fun from life, but actually most of the dangers aren’t really dangerous. They just seem cool. And I’m not saying that having fun is so much related to getting yourself in danger – but that many of us are so glued into our comfort zone that even if it would bring a lot of joy and experience into our lives, we wouldn’t do a lot of things.

    I liked this post of yours :)

    Cheers!
    Zoli

    • Zoli, welcome to my blog and for sharing your insights about most people being glued into their comfort zone.

      I am assuming that you are one of those people who would stick their head in a crocodile’s mouth for kicks:-)

      I am not saying one should live recklessly, but live full out and don’t hold back from having a fun life just becase we were told not to do by our cultural or religious upbringing.

  17. I really wish organized religion would understand this. If it wasn’t for the non-sense about the second coming of god and the end of the world I would show up. Getting wrapped up in suffering and hardship as a means to get to heaven in the afterlife vs. living a full and fruitful life is a turn off. I believe we all have a moral obligation to help each other, but that shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying the fruits of our labor and the all the riches in the world.

    • Jovan, you have perfectly summarised the crux of my argument – why get wrapped up in suffering and hardship as a means to get to heaven in teh afterlife when you be living a full and fruitful life now?!

      Let’s all enjoy the fruits of our labour and all the riches in the world and at the same time fufil our moral obligation and hearft-felt desire to help each other.

  18. hi!

    i agree with your post to enjoy while we are here… and though i am also a believer of this life coming to an end… which is more of a real deal since we have seen ppl dying before our eyes so there is nothing stupid to think we are to die … even if the world is not going to come to an end… our life is for sure…but i feel if someone wud tell me that my life is to end in 2 yrs or even two days rather then crying abt it i wud juts do all that pleases me… and gives me joy cuz i only have so much left… so it doesnt matter… the concept of heaven is build not to suffocate urself through life… but to breathe it more fully…. resisting temptations is fine but killing urself and getting frustrated is worse… besides those who tell u to live good doesnt nevessarily mean stop laughing or living… but yes some ppl actually think its ok to think abt others bad in ur mind but never say it out… actually thats not being good… that being hypocrite… i wud rather say it out and face the consequences then keep it in and boil over it, getting stressed for nothing…

    but its different between wasting ur life on trivial pleasures and making wise choices abt wat truley makes ur life a beautiful experience…sometimes u get lost following the crowd… sometimes u find urself walking alone.. be ur own judge , have faith… love urself and love this beautiful moment given to you whehter u use it to make ur life a heaven or hell is up to you… u may reach heaven even when u dont beleive in it as u do all which was necessary to feel it… and u might end up in hell doing all u think will get u in heaven… ull see it all eventually for now enjoy life for what it is and waht u wud like to make of it… and do it without hurting another soul intentionally… u r fine…that way…