Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reasons

· 1 min read

Anyone who’s ever been to a yoga class, meditation workshop, plant medicine journey or any other sight of modern spirituality would notice a common theme: “Close your eyes, sit comfortably, set your intention for this practice”. Ok… But why? Let’s cut to the chase already.

Around the time I finished high school I came up with a mental experiment. Consider a situation: you and your romantic interest are walking down the street when you see an old lady struggling to open a door while holding heavy grocery bags. You rush to hold the door open. Your friend is impressed and compliments you. Now let’s add a twist: in one version of this story the main motivation for you was to impress your friend, in the other version of the story you did it because you deeply believe it should be done regardless of whether your friend was there or not.

If the outcome is the same, what difference does it make?

For years I was telling this story to anyone willing to listen. Intuitively people would agree that there must be some difference but couldn’t quite articulate why. I also met those who firmly believed that if the end result is the same, then it’s irrelevant what prompted it.

But there’s a difference. We are what we do, especially what we do repeatedly. The person at the end of the first story is different from the person at the end of the second story. I mean literally, physically different on the level of neural connections. And the only difference between the two is the Why.

It’s time to stop doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Taking a break and asking “Why am I doing this?” is a good first step.