Recently I went to see Harry Styles in concert.
Not only did I go and see Harry Styles, I traveled to see him and then spent my night at the gig dancing like a crazy person, singing my heart out and screaming – yes screaming – like a teenager.
And you know what? I bloody loved every single minute.
Before Harry went solo and became slightly more socially acceptable among people my age, I remember a friend asking whether he and the One Direction concert I had booked later that month were my “guilty pleasures”.
I told her no, not at all. I didn’t feel one ounce of guilt about it.
That term, guilty pleasure, have you ever stopped to think about how utterly ridiculous it is?
Unless the thing that brings you pleasure is something that hurts you or someone or something else – well then why the hell should you feel guilty about it?!
Because it’s not ? Because other people might judge you for it? Who cares?!
The things we love, they have a tendency to fill up our hearts and our energies in a way that the other things in life rarely do.
I came back from my night with Harry (yes, I am momentarily ignoring the thousands of other people who were in the room with us) feeling bloody amazing. Yes my throat was sore and I was shattered but I was buzzing with energy after the most fun night.
Of course, it's not just Harry that that lights me up. Not that long ago I used to love cross stitching (and as I type this I’m wondering why I ever stopped… but I digress). I wasn’t overly good at it but there was something about focusing my hands and my conscious minds on the tiny stitches that relaxed me in a way nothing else in my life did.
When I announced my meditative habit one day at work, someone laughed and asked if I unexpectedly aged thirty years every time I walked in my house. Even when I explained how much peace of mind cross stitching brought me, a number of friends still couldn’t get their heads around how I could comfortably admit to liking something so decidedly uncool.
But you know what? I didn’t care one single jot.
Because whether it’s boy bands, cheesy movies, chocolate pudding, cross stitching, reality tv, gardening, singing in the shower, squeezing spots, YouTube cat videos or pop stars with delicious dimples, I am embracing those things that light you up!
I’m a firm believer that life is full of opportunities for joy and wonderfulness. However, it also has a habit of regularly throwing challenges, lessons and frustrations our way; never more so than in the world today where the media seems to be filled with bad news, and the there are pressures on us to do the things we be rather than what’s right for us.
So in that case, shouldn’t we all take every opportunity we can to fill our lives with things that make us feel good?
And yeah, some of those things may well make other people raise their eyebrows, shake their heads or all out laugh at us.
But then if someone is uncomfortable in themselves and their own lives, they will always find something to call weird about you.
Why? Because they’re scared. They’re scared to step outside of what society deems normal or cool, and to go and do what they love. They’re scared of the head shakes and the laughter, because they’re not confident enough to accept themselves without the views, opinions or approval of the eyebrow raisers. They’d much rather play it safe, never worry about fitting in, and simply be “normal”.
But hold up a second, let’s have a little reality check.
What is “normal”? The very definition of the word is different to every single one of us – hell, if my own experiences and the conversations I’ve had with many many clients over the years are to be believed, we generally don’t even consider ourselves bloody normal, so why even try to fit into someone else’s mould of what you should and shouldn’t be?!
Nobody – and I repeat, – is normal. And nobody else can decide what’s right or acceptable for you!
So when it comes to what lights you up, I encourage you to go out there and love it shamelessly. Make time for those things, throw yourself into them and proudly declare your complete and utter lack of guilt.
When you do that you’ll find that two things happen:
The first is that you’ll feel amazing – once you shake off the eyebrow raising you’ll find that you smile more, laugh more and just feel all together more like yourself.
And as if that weren’t already enough, the second one is that you’ll find other people start to light up too. You know that scene in High School Musical (why yes, Disney movies and musicals are two more of my pleasures in life!) where Troy’s revelation that he’s a basketball player who likes to sing makes everyone else in the school admit the unconventional things they love too? Life becomes a bit like that, because your being guiltlessly yourself somehow gives others permission to do the same. And don't panic - if you have no clue what I'm talking about then here's the link, just to keep you up to date!
Want to change the world for the better? Start by lighting yourself up with the things that you love. Because that? That's what makes you beautiful (sorry, I couldn't resist).