Growing up, I used to believe that doing the right thing couldn’t be as hard as other people made it seem. I rolled my eyes every time I encountered people who put their integrity at risk, so I kept my belief that we are all rational human beings, that we can effortlessly distinguish what’s right from what’s wrong.
I found my truth in this belief as I ran and went through different circumstances in my life, and I thought it would be easier as I grew and moved forward to always side with what’s right.
Until recently, I disproved this thinking and found out that I got stuck living in the illusion that the easiest path is to keep choosing to do what’s right. I found myself caught up in a situation where the hardest and the most painful thing to do is, without a doubt, the right thing to do.
Life comes at us fast.
So fast that it’s natural to react to difficult situations in the wrong way. To do what’s easy at the moment, to do what would hurt less, to ease discomfort with a wrong decision just to avoid tackling the pain the present moment brings.
But to do what feels “right” doesn’t mean it IS what is right.
Sometimes, the lies we keep repeating to ourselves become our truth, and our make-believe truth is dangerous as we let it consume us, afraid to put ourselves at risk of getting hurt again. We convince ourselves to stick with these lies for a myriad of reasons—happiness is the simplest example.
When we are happy, we couldn’t care less if we’re wrong. In this world where bliss is a rare emotion, we tend to enter every door leading to it, impulsively and naïvely, just to enjoy a minute of happiness. We make mistakes as we try to chase it through wrong decisions, regardless if we hurt others in the process; we become selfish because experiencing joy does not always happen for everyone, at least not easily.
What we fail to realize is that if we consistently choose to only pacify what we feel at the moment, we miss out on the fact that everything has a long-term effect. We can only do so much, living in the moment, choosing what’s less painful, seizing momentary bliss. We fail to assess the situation until we’re forced to ask if the fantasy world we built around us and the people we’re risking all of it for is worth anything at all.
It’s hard to see clearly when we’re so full of joy. It’s not easy to realize that we’re wrong when what we truly desire is compromised. It’s not easy to do a quick self-assessment, especially when you believe that you finally achieved the happiness you believe you deserve after putting up with so much. It’s not easy to quit a bad habit that lets you escape the harsh realities of this life, nor is it easy to do what is right, especially when it guarantees nothing but more pain.
So, I was wrong, completely mistaken.
For always thinking that it’s a no-brainer, that when our parents and teachers taught us what’s right and what’s wrong, we immediately would know the difference, that in any given situation we’d never jeopardize our integrity for anything temporary. It just doesn’t work that way, does it?
The right thing may be the toughest and most painful thing to do, the more reason why we should keep doing it. We have to remember that nothing good comes from anything easy, anyway.