In society, we link ‘indulgence’ with a slight sense of ‘guilt’ or simply, ‘lack of control’. We see indulging as an excessive amount of time is being spent on a certain activity, a guilty pleasure, a wrong act of lavishness – whether it’s an item of food, a bubble bath, a shopping spree, or simply time doing absolutely nothing productive.
The concept of indulgence in everyday life is so tied up with doing something ‘extra’ or the idea of ’treating yourself’, to a point where ‘restriction’ becomes a lot of peoples’ default mindset. Everyday you hear people say they limit themselves to consuming a certain amount of something / time, that they won’t ‘go over the limit’. That they exercise self control because you’re not supposed to do what you want, spend your time on what you want to do, eat what you desire…
Yet if restriction is the way to go, why don’t we intrinsically feel happy when we stop ourselves from doing what we want?
If indulgence means excessiveness or going overboard, why do we always get a sense of satisfaction and gratification after indulging?
I suspect we’re underestimating the liberating power that indulgence in life can bring us, and that we’ve been so obsessed with restriction that it has fogged up our view on treating ourselves well.
As mindful as we all hope to be, why not redefine indulgence and restriction in our lives?
Indulgence should not bring guilt – it is not a reward, but a duty of self-care
Indulgence doesn’t mean rewarding yourself because you ‘earned that scoop of ice cream’ or you ‘earned this Netflix binge’.
Indulgence is not about doing something excessively to compensate what you’ve missed out from the week. When done right, it should be an obligatory, sustainable act of self-care. It should give you a prolonged sense of satisfaction. So don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to promote any form of binging or addictive behaviour.
By giving yourself what you want, by fully devoting your time into activities you love to do, you are exercising self-love and actively listening to yourself.
Instead of instant physical gratifications, ask yourself what always make you feel good and never bring guilt afterwards?
A nice conversation with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while?
Listening to that one song you never get tired of?
A slow meal with good food and good drinks that you can enjoy with people you love?
A walk in the park under the warm sun?
They don’t really sound that indulging right? Yet they’re all a form of indulgence in time.
Because it’s not only about what you do – but whether you give yourself the time to do it.
Restrictions can be liberating, too
On the flipside, restrictions don’t have to be negative all the time.
The wrong kind of restrictions in life are the ones that lead to deprivation.
Instead of having a restrictive lifestyle, think of restrictions as the fine edges in your life.
They’re simply the strong contrast you see between your daily goals / what you’re actively working on to achieve, and what you do for rewinding your soul. They’re what bound your time together, but not the rules you live by on a daily basis.
By putting the focus on limiting time but not the amount of substance, you give yourself the chance to really think of what makes you happy.
So don’t restrict on the consumption of indulgence itself, but instead restrict on how much time you spend doing things you don’t seek prolonged comfort / pleasure from.
Stop replying to work emails after the certain time. Stop working on your assignment after a certain hour. Whatever you’re doing that doesn’t only give you happiness, put a restrictive boundary on it and let yourself move on to indulgence of time.
That’s it – that’s the only restriction you need – and it’s the most liberating feeling ever.