For the last few weeks, I’ve really wanted a piece of cake. Preferably, it will be a yellow cake with a thick chocolate icing and fudge filling. Chocolate cake would be good too, with a classic white buttercream, or red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. I’m very flexible about this.
In years past, I would’ve just baked a cake, or stopped into a favorite local bakery. My life is a lot more complicated now, though. I have to ask somebody to get it for me. It’s a whole “thing” now, not something I can accomplish on impulse. So, it gives me more time to think about it.
Do I really want the cake? Is it appropriate to have a cake when it’s not a holiday or somebody’s birthday? Things in the world are such a mess … is it OK to arrange to indulge in acquiring and eating cake when I am aware of the misery of others? If I ask someone to pick up a cake just because I feel like having one, are they going to judge me for it?
The answer to all those questions is Yes – except for the last question. The answer to that one is Who Cares.
Everyone loves cake. If you don’t think you do, then you just haven’t found the right cake for you yet. it. You can have a cake that’s low calorie or low fat, low sugar or sugar free, gluten free or vegan, and so on and so forth. It’s a universal truth that a good cake will make you feel better.
Cake = Comfort
A few times over the years¸ I’ve read that chocolate cake is comfort food because cocoa is one of its main ingredients. In case you weren’t aware, chocolate (cocoa) helps your brain release chemical compounds that make you feel good. Seriously. If you ever go to the chocolate mecca that is Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, as part of the factory tour they offer a chance to take a class about chocolate. The detailed technical explanation for the physical effect chocolate has on humans is part of the curriculum. I’m not looking to give you a science lesson here. You can trust me, though. You can also research it yourself. Naturally occurring compounds in chocolate make you feel good.
Ironically, however, the magic of cake is that it doesn’t need to be chocolate for it to make you feel good. Think of the almost infinite varieties of cake available, or ones that you can invent. Vanilla. Lemon. Spice. Coffee. Pineapple upside down. Red velvet. Banana. Carrot. Marble. German chocolate. Rum. Lavender. Shortcake. You get the picture. Then you can factor in a massive variety of fillings and icings or glazes. The number of potential variations is mind-boggling.
It’s not insensitive to have the cake
Denying yourself a piece of cake is not going to help the homeless or feed the hungry. It won’t assist people trying to flee from oppression, provide help to those struggling in the aftermath of a natural disaster, or heal the sick. I realize that it can actually feel kind of shameful to be enjoying excellent take-out, a funny movie, or a good book and a piece of cake while relaxing in a comfortable spot in your nice home, when you know that so many other people in the world are struggling to endure terrible hardships.
I think if you’re an empathetic person at all who’s paying attention to world events, it’s not all that uncommon to feel a sense of guilt triggered by the suffering in the world. Part of the problem of focusing on guilt is it means we’re focusing on ourselves, and not on the issue or issues causing the emotion. It isn’t productive to suffer some kind of neurotic guilt about something you yourself haven’t done. Taking on the burden of a misplaced share of responsibility for something is never productive. Sometimes you have to look deeper within yourself. Are you really feeling guilty because you’re somehow not living up to your own ethical standards? Are you identifying your emotions accurately, or attributing them to the wrong source?
Events around the world and even closer to home can inspire within us the desire to help. Helping others benefits the helper as well as the recipient. You can contribute money or manpower to a reputable aid organization, volunteer at a charity location near you, or even support a politician who is helping with some issue you believe to be important. There’s always something you can do, even if you can’t afford to spend any money.
Whatever else you may or may not do, don’t waste your time feeling guilty about things that you cannot control. All that does is add more suffering into the world. Do what you can to add kindness to the world. Remember, that includes being kind to yourself. The better you take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually, the better you’ll be able to handle or contribute to the world. It’s like how they tell you on an airplane that you should secure your own oxygen mask before helping somebody else with theirs. You must see to yourself first sometimes.Take a few minutes to indulge yourself. Enjoy your cake. It’s such a small thing but sometimes, little things mean a lot.
Now take a few minutes to share with me something going on in the world that’s weighing heavily on your mind, or your favorite type of cake. Or tell me both! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and then check out next week’s newsletter and social media to find out if you’re a winner in the feedback bonus giveaway.