Doing The Right Thing, Even When It Feels Wrong
“Sometimes is it better to lose and do the right thing, than to win and do the wrong thing.”
As a child, we were all taught to do the “right” thing. Our parents always tried to guide us in the right direction, encouraging us to say, “thank you,” “ask nicely,” or “be kind.”
As we grew older, our parents expected us to still do the right thing, but they gave us more freedom to decide what the “right” thing was. We would decide which way to go at our own peril, of course!
I tried, I failed, I learned.
Learned, or in my world as a kid, another word for “butt-whipping”. Lesson learned.
Anyway, sans the spanking, as adults we try do the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do.
My dad used to tell me that doing the right thing is sometimes the hardest thing to do. And you know, he was right! Life is not simple, finding right and wrong is hardly ever black and white.
Let me caveat this first by stating that I would never insinuate that I am a man that has always done the right thing. No, no. It just intrigues me that no matter how old we get, situations come up that still test our resolve to make that right decision.
We are human after all, and humans make mistakes, and I am not immune to them. I’m here to tell you there is no “Saint Thomas”.
Just ask my wife, she’ll tell you!
I do, however, try to do the right thing at every opportunity. I think I speak for everyone in saying that I do wish it just got easier with time and age, but it definitely doesn’t.
Each situation can be harder than you think, too. And, surprisingly at that moment in time, when doing the right thing is at its most difficult to do, a lot of us try to make deals with ourselves. We rationalize, or in other words, we lie to ourselves.
You’ve seen it in those dramas or sitcoms on TV. The lead character had a hard decision to make and instead of doing it right, they rationalize with themselves. They give themselves multiple reasons why NOT doing the right thing at that moment is actually a good thing. “I know I should’ve done this, but that’s so hard to do and once they see why I had to do that, they’ll definitely understand, forgive me and everything will be just peachy!”
It adds drama to the show and makes us all tune into another episode, but we all know in the end, the character usually pays for NOT making the hard decision and doing the right thing.
Also, like all things, there are varying degrees of “doing the right thing”. We all know taking our shoes off and always placing them neatly in the mud room next to the door is the right thing to do. So why do we just flip ‘em off our feet into a random corner? C’mon, you’ve done it!
And as principled that can be doing the right thing here, we obviously aren’t talking about this silly example I just gave, are we?
I’m talking about those hard decisions. Things such as reporting to your boss that someone you work with and like is stealing from them. How about having to fire a family member you love? What about reporting abuse (verbal or physical), knowing it’s going to cause a big ole’ giant hell storm? There’s the always infamous, “hey my friend, I’m sorry to tell you that your wife/girlfriend is cheating on you” conversation.
Tough situations. Tough decisions. Those instances some folks would handle each in one way and for others, another way. Regardless of the direction you would go, I know there’s no one that wouldn’t have to first wrestle with the dilemma awhile first.
What makes them so difficult, you ask?
It’s multiple things, but quite often it’s because most circumstances aren’t as clear-cut as they seem. I know we’d like them to be, and lord knows the decision, no matter how you slice it, has to be done with earnest and with honest intent.
I personally think it’s also because people bring their own world-views with them into their decision making processes, which causes them to see and interpret situations in different ways. These different ways are typically not the truest ways as they get filtered through the proverbial “rose colored” glasses. We see things that are not there and don’t see things that are there.
Those things open windows for us to do that “rationalization thing” I wrote about earlier. We lie to ourselves about what we see and try to rationalize it to ease our fears and worry, when just “sucking it up”, bolstering our intestinal fortitude and finding the right way to do what needs to be done is the next step.
Now, I’m no expert but, if we just remember to follow some simple, yet time tested rules, I think we’d all find doing the right thing gets easier and easier.
Every day take steps to be as honest, as real, and as brave as you can be, even when it scares you. You can never go wrong. You’ll also be mentally stronger from it, making it just a little easier to do it the next time.
A verse from a very famous book pretty much says it all if you really thing about it. It is translated like this. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
If you want someone to be honest with you, be honest with them. If you want your boss to trust you, be trustworthy. If you want more compassion and empathy from those around you, be compassionate and empathetic.
All these examples have one thing in common, exemplifying the behavior, not just speaking it.
Do the things that lead you to become the person you want to be, and you will become that person, step by step. You just have to do one thing.
…Do the right thing.
“Do the right thing, whenever possible. It is always possible.”
“The book of life has no scrap pages, write with care.”