Guilt is such a sneaky emotion. When we are feeling immensely grateful for something, when we are celebrating something delightful in our lives, guilt sneaks in, and steals the moment from us.
I see guilt and gratitude as the two sides of the same coin. One gives us life, while the other steals it from us. Gratitude anchors us to the present, and so is full of potential. Guilt on the other hand, tethers us to past events, making us miss the present moment, which literally is a present, a present for being alive.
In any moment, we can have a lot to feel guilty about. How about feeling guilty for the starving children and babies all over the globe? There are babies whose little tummies starve so much that they die in pain. How can I munch on this chocolate chip cookie, nicely crunchy on the outside with a soft inside, without a care now?
Thinking of the seriously sick children, and all people suffering physical pain, I can’t feel good about my good physical health right now, can I?
I feel grateful for having both my parents alive. Yet I feel guilty for even this gratitude. There are people who have never known their parents. And worse, who’ve known and loved them but lost them too early tragically.
Hundreds of thousands of people became homeless in a matter of seconds during the earthquake in Turkiye. Now, I am feeling guilty for enjoying the cozy comfort of my home. I am ordering a ceramic vase for the dining room. I feel guilt creeping in. Do we really need it, while there are others who’ve lost their homes with every single thing in those houses?
I am sipping this hot chocolate, which is so perfectly hot that it burnt the tip of my tongue just as much as it should. How dare I enjoy this drink? I shouldn’t have made it in the first place. Right?
I meditated for fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes for me. Just for me! Perhaps I could’ve used that time to do something for humanity. How about all those things I’ve listed above? I could’ve done something about them, couldn’t I?
In any moment, there are countless things for us which can make us feel guilty.
In any moment, there are countless things for us which can make us feel grateful.
The same things actually.
One can feel guilty for being alive. One can feel grateful for being alive.
Some people died of accidents today. Some others died of sickness. I am here. Well, for now.
I believe we see life more complicated than it really is. I believe that life is truly simple. All we need to do is to breathe. And be grateful that we’re still here in this moment. We’re still breathing.
And then we want things in life, we set a few intentions, like finishing school, finding a job we love, starting a new hobby... We do our best, enjoying it moment by moment.
And challenges show up. Traumatic experiences are already lining up. Then we choose again. We choose happiness. It is a choice really. We choose to move on and to go on. We choose to persist. We choose to reach the stars, and be happy with whatever.
Everything will pass.
The good. The bad. The sad. The jolly. We stay present. We choose consciously.
I believe we always have a choice. Our existence otherwise would have no meaning. We have a choice.
We can choose to be hunted by the ghosts of our past. Or we can choose to awake to the present moment. And we say thank you, just as we thank when receive a present.
We can choose to fear the unknown future. Or we can decide to like the unknown, seeing life as an adventure, and taking it breath by breath.
We can choose to be grateful for our second chance in life. Third chance… And choose to be happy.
Anytime that invisible monster, otherwise called guilt sneaks within, we choose. We choose gratitude. And we live. Breath by breath. Here. Now.
As above, so below
As within, so without