I’ve seen people criticizing “romanticize your life” and “be the main character in your life” as hedonistic and toxic, and I can’t help but think there has been a misunderstanding somewhere along the way.
First, I will concede that some people will use any excuse to feed their own selfishness and narcissism. It’s easy to see this online, where anyone can post anything, and usually only very attractive people garner a large following. But that’s not everyone. I will also concede that pursuing only pleasure and avoiding all pain/unpleasantness certainly creates more problems than it solves. If you always followed this lifestyle, you’d probably never go to work or eat your vegetables. You might never get out of your bed, at least until your back starts aching. You’d eat sugar, salt, and fat until your body said, “No more! Am too full.” You’d seek sexual gratification without a care for your partner(s) until your body said, “No more! Am overstimulated!” Eventually, you would become desensitized to the very things that brought you pleasure in the first place. But all this reflecting on hedonism is quite a leap from “I want my walk down the street to make me feel like I’m in a Studio Ghibli film.”
Trying to make small moments in your life enjoyable in the midst of a pandemic and emotional turmoil is far from toxic. The pursuit of pleasure is not a bad thing as long as it is not pursued to the exclusion of personal development and meaningful connections with other people. Don’t worry! Most people ultimately seek purpose and fulfillment. But there are insignificant little moments, such as eating, going grocery shopping, and getting ready for bed, that are part of everyday life. There is no harm in someone trying to make those little moments feel more meaningful or even – day I say it? – fun.
We know the truisms about not having pleasure without pain or joy without sadness. We need the mundane moments in life to enhance the exciting ones. But consider that many people have been deprived of the exciting moments due to the pandemic. Many people, myself included, struggled to keep track of what day it was during lockdown because most days blended together. Everything was the same, so there was nothing to counterbalance. Bearing that in mind, if someone wants to make French toast one morning and pretend they’re thousands of miles away while they eat it slowly and mindfully, good for them.
It won’t always be this way. We will chase our dreams once more, but in the meantime… if someone wants to enhance everyday moments with splashes of romance and whimsy, let them. A harmless smile may keep them going when the rest of their day is a battle against mind-numbing monotony.