What we say, do, think and feel – why action matters

“Good intentions aren’t enough. It’s not what we want, say, or think that makes things happen; it’s what we do.” Michael Josephson

I remember a friend who promised to visit me time and again – yet never made it to my door. There was always some reason not to make it. This was before mobile phones were everywhere, so the excuse ‘I can’t find it’ made some sense. Still, if she’d wanted to come, we could have figured something out. Needless to say: that wasn’t a friendship that lasted.

I’ve been fooled by good intentions more than once. I don’t mean my own good intentions, I mean other people’s. Whether it’s unkept promises or a friend that’s simply never on time. Whether it’s a sensitive person who never manages to visit that sick person, or never pays for a group birthday present. An organisation that shall remain nameless that has great ideals it doesn’t live up to also comes to mind.

We fall for charm, every time. Yes, me too. Research shows that the people who we think are great on a first date or interview are likely to be more selfish than the ones we thought were boring. The boring ones will generally have far more going for them long term.

Isn’t that sad? Makes you look at ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ with new eyes.

Unfortunately our culture stresses the superficial way more than it used to. The follow through remains invisible: the donation for charity, the real helping hand. What’s visible is our tweets, our facebook shares, our words for the right cause.

Hat tip to @freeyourspirit for the quote.

10 thoughts on “What we say, do, think and feel – why action matters”

  1. Hi Katinka,
    I totally agree with you the first impressions scenario. The “wild” ones are often mentally unstable and can wind up being a “drainer” in our relationships.

    The simple yet sometimes boring ones often wind up being keepers in my opinion.

    My rule of thumb is that the nicer and charming ones upon initial meeting end up being the complete opposite.

  2. Good stuff! Very thought provoking. My mind went to the way we talk about the path we follow.. used often in spiritual circles. But this is a path, many people follow…but what are its fruits?

  3. The way I see it is that being hurt by another is the consequence of our own expectations. The “other” cannot hurt you if you do not except it. It’s like this: If one insults you cannot be insulted UNTIL you except it as an insult.
    It is than mere noise.
    So in short: All pain is self-induced
    Understanding and seeing the situation AS IT IS is key.
    I also know the we are all conditioned to depend on the other for self reflection..which makes it extremely hard NOT to take things personally..But WE take things personally..so it’s OUR choice to hurt.
    For instance, I visit to the neighborhood bar every know and then..I only drink merlot if I get a drink..I have been asked numerous times if i was gay because of it. “what man drinks wine in a bar” they usually state.Now this shows pure ignorance and judgment, while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay..I could’ve taken it personally but I never do..It ONLY shows the mentality of the other and has NOTHING to do with me..sorry for the long post

  4. The world is littered with the casualties of good intentions.
    An imperfect organization merely reflects it’s constituency. Acting out good thoughts is still more grist for the karmic mill as the mind that determines goodness is flawed. Better to act without good intentions perhaps.

  5. I’m not sure that charm is necessarily divorced from being “nice”–but it certainly can be used as a crutch enabling others to do things they otherwise wouldn’t get away with.

    A selfish use of charm is nasty, but then again, a selfish use of anything–accounting, legal advice, whatever is nasty.

    I like to see people under pressure. That usually tells me more about them than anything they say.

  6. I’m curious about the research that says that the people we find to be boring are the ones who have the most going for them. How would a person know that – since if they are boring, the chances that we would even WANT to get to know them are quite slim?

    From my experience, the people who have the most going for them tend to express it through personalities that intrigue and captivate: interesting conversations, warm smiles and so forth. Have you had a different experience?

    1. The research suggests that the kind of people who are likely to be abusive in relationships, who are selfish, narcistic etc, are often quite capable of giving that great first impression. I don’t have a source for you, I read it in some magazine.
      However, it does explain why the people who are abusive in relationships often get away with it: after the abuse, they turn on the charm, the partner forgives them and stays in the relationship, within a few weeks things are back to ‘normal’ and abuse.

      And yes – I’ve certainly experienced that charming person who turns out to be unreliable or only interested in themselves. Not that I’ve been abused or anything like that.

      For a fun night on the town outgoing may be the most interesting, but long term the deep waters of a shy person may well prove more worth your while.

      Of course these are generalities.

  7. Interesting discussion-there may be one other factor in all this- that, fortunately or unfortunately, we may attract people to us that match our vibration. I’ve attracted a few people that I can’t imagine what on earth could have been in ME to bring them in, but quantum physics says we attract either what we are or what we judge- just wanted to throw in that thought-

  8. I like this article. It would also be interesting to elaborate on the title… like whether thinking and feeling (emoting, not perceiving) are also actions. One one hand they seem to be, but on the other hand it might be hard to determine if thoughts are actually one’s own or if they are objects that come from another spiritual source or more (if thought all has to do with objects, though mentation does not.)

  9. Consider how often you have been let down by a person who has made a promise but didn’t keep it. Have you noticed that this person will always “try to . . . (act, be there, do something). Trying sets up the opportunity to not follow through with an action, because, after all, the person “tried”. Trying is socially acceptable and gets a person off the hook from following through with a commitment. Trying is a telltale sign that in most cases the person will not follow through, so no need for disappointment.

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