Be a hero to yourself

Why do we do the right thing?  What do we do when no one’s looking?

If no one’s watching, does it matter what we do?

As a child, being honest and kind, following the rules, and the Ten Commandments were drilled into me. I feared punishment, human or Divine, if I didn’t obey. I knew the rules and was expected to do the right thing.

As a child, I felt I had an invisible pair of eyes tracking my every move. I wanted to be a good girl, to remain in favour, or maybe more accurately, stay out of trouble.

Is doing the right thing about fear of punishment from a higher power or another, or is it something else? This question and ensuing discussion arose within my circle this week.

Last week, my friend, Penny, realized she’d made an error when submitting her taxes. One friend advised her not to be such a goody two shoes, and to leave it and see if the mistake was found.  

After all, she’s a busy gal, and it would be a pain to make the corrections. This mistake might never be found.

I smiled, because I knew what she would do. Penny went directly home and made the changes. Not for Canada Revenue, but for herself.

I’ve heard many such stories. One friend, Diane, told of a store manager who looked at her like she was crazy when she returned to let them know she’d been undercharged for an item.

Why on earth would she bother? They’d never know.

No, they might not know, but she would. Having done the right thing, Diane could then enjoy her purchase instead of feeling guilty if she hadn’t gone back.

For me, I know the harshest judge is my own conscience, and the cruelest punishments are those I levy upon myself when I don’t act with integrity. 

As we age, there are fewer eyes watching us, many more choices to make, some bearing external consequence, but many more creating internal consequence.

Honesty and doing the right thing are selfish acts on my part. While I may be able to fool another, I can’t fool myself. When I do the right thing, I’m nobody’s hero but my own.

I’d much rather be comfortable and know my personal sense of integrity is intact. I’d no longer be able to enjoy an item if I was reminded of violating my own personal code of conduct when I saw it.

I know the invisible eyes watching me are my own. We have societal norms, as well as our own internal set of values.These may different from those of another, to some they may seem silly.

That doesn’t matter because what’s important is we each follow our internal code.

When we do the right thing, what we are doing really has very little to do with anyone else. It’s about us, our own integrity and how we feel.

Nothing is worth sacrificing our sense of integrity and peace.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected]il.com.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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