Not because my mother taught me this or that anyone taught me this, but I grew up with a distorted view of life. In the back of my mind I honestly believed that if I was obedient to the rules, everything would run smoothly in life and I would be happy all the time. Like I said, in many ways it was a distorted view.
The truth is that for the most part, being obedient DOES make life easier and happier because there are not as many negative consequences in association with our choices.
Let’s get this straight…being obedient doesn’t guarantee happiness, but it does mean that life will be happier. That’s a little confusing! What does it really mean to be obedient?
Definition of OBEDIENT
: willing to do what someone tells you to do or to follow a law, rule, etc. : willing to obey
Because I didn’t want to suffer adverse consequences, I tried and still try to “do the right thing.” Sometimes I’m obedient because I fear the consequences of being disobedient, sometimes I do the right thing because it is the right thing, and sometimes I am obedient without even thinking about the choice one way or the other.
Let’s take an example from my trip to the Outer Banks. On the balcony of my hotel room there was a sign prominently displayed that stated: DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS. At first, I really had no idea why such a sign would be there. My first thought was not to immediately find bread scraps and feed the birds. I’m not a rebel by nature.
It wasn’t until later when I was sitting on the balcony that I understood the need for the DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS sign. There were so many birds on the beach. They had a feast provided by the ocean with every splash of the waves and the sea gulls and other birds took advantage of it. If I fed the birds from my balcony, they would hover, perch and poop on the balcony all the time. The birds would have the mindset that someone fed them from the balcony once, so they would feed them from the balcony again if they wait patiently.
In essence, life would be easier or more pleasant if everyone that stayed in the hotel never fed the birds. Being obedient to the sign wasn’t really a hard thing to do. This was also an example of having integrity. No one would know if I fed the birds and I’ll probably never stay in that hotel room again. In this case, however, not feeding the birds was the right thing to do.
That’s how many situations in life present themselves to you…privately. You have a choice between doing the right thing, rationalizing and only partially doing the right thing or blatantly choosing to do the wrong thing. You can blatantly do the wrong thing and then hope you’re never found out, but often in the back of your mind your choice will haunt you. If you consistently make this type of choice, you will become bogged down with your less than honest choices. That in turn will cause you to be less happy than if you had just chosen to do the right thing in the beginning.
Does doing the right thing always guarantee happiness?
Do I look like a fool? Of course you are not guaranteed happiness just because you do the right thing. Actually, sometimes you will be persecuted or people will make fun of you for doing the right thing.
Having experienced PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and recovery from the nightmarish Hell, I have a different perspective on people and their choices. When someone does something I don’t agree with, I do not feel the need to tell them that I think they are wrong. I’m not their ruler or God. The only time I say anything is when it directly affects me or is blatantly evil and hurts someone else.
Doing the right thing is always the right choice. It doesn’t really matter what the motivation is behind making the choice to do right. The end result will be the same…obedience. In the end, obedience does help you to avoid unpleasant consequences. It doesn’t promise you unending happiness, but in the long run, obedience and choosing the right does ensure that you won’t feel regret or guilt from your actions.
You know what else being obedient does for you? Not only will you feel better about yourself, but you won’t hurt other people. That’s always a good thing. Obedience goes hand in hand with being unselfish and being unselfish means other people won’t be the casualties of your actions. So the next time you see a sign that tells you how fast to drive, where to park, or when you can take a discount, adhere to the rules. Just choose to be the kind of person that enjoys doing the right thing and DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS.