Simply Do the Right Thing

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Just, do the right thing.” Lately, I hear myself saying this more and more often: really, how hard can it be?

The "right" decision to visit my dad - May 2011

The “Right” Decision to Visit My Dad – May 2011

In truth, it can be very hard and that’s the problem. Sometimes the right thing seems so hard that we opt, instead, for the path of least resistance. The trouble is when we take the easy route it often leads right back to where we started. That’s the way life works. When we haven’t learned the lesson, it’s re-presented until we get it. If we want to grow from life’s lessons, we have to do the hard work.

Sometimes we make a decision that best allows us to avoid our feelings, save our energy or get some sleep. Then, in our busyness, we move to the next item on our list without ever looking back to see where the dust fell. No afterthoughts on how the decision panned out, who it affected, or how it may have changed a course of events.


Think about how you make your decisions.

Do you sit and ponder day after day, rehashing the facts before finally throwing a dart to make a choice?

Do you quickly decide whether you should or should not just to check an item off your “to do” list?

Do you make your decisions based on how you think the outcome will make you look in the eyes of others?

Or, do you ask yourself, what is the right thing to do in this situation?



Hanging Out in Slave Lake Feels “Right.”

When asked questions like –

Why are you planning this event?

Why are you not volunteering your time?

Why are you letting your child…?

Why are you not reaching out to…?

Or, in my case, I’m often asked –

Why do you travel with your husband to his contract sites?


There should only be one good answer to “why?” It is the right thing to do.


But, how do you know when your decision is right?

I rely on intuition. I feel it in my heart. The thought of following through on my decision fills me with calmness. People say, “I had a gut feeling about…” That’s it.

I’m not saying I’m always right. I’m not saying I always do the right thing. What I am saying is I do better when my decisions are based on what is right in my heart. It may take longer to decide. I might have to sleep on it. I might have to say a little prayer. But, if I’m honest about my intentions, I will act in good conscience and make the best decision for me.


Do the right thing even when it’s hard.

It is not always easy to go with your ‘right’ decision. You’ll have to expect more of yourself. Sometimes it means you’ll lose sleep. Sometimes it means you have to expend a lot more energy or that you disappoint someone. But, most importantly, you will not disappoint yourself.

I’m sharing this because it works for me.

I imagine a better world if everyone just did the right thing.

It’s that simple, and that hard.


Today, I want to challenge you.

Make all your decisions today based on doing the ‘right’ thing.

When faced with a decision, stop and ask, “What is the right thing to do?

Practise sitting in the discomfort of not having an answer or of knowing that follow through will be hard.

Try it for a day. A week. A month. Let me know how it works out for you. I’d love to hear your stories.



12 thoughts on “Simply Do the Right Thing

  1. I always have an uncomfortable feeling when I hear the word “right.” It holds some old baggage, I suppose, like doing what someone else thinks is right or that I “should” do whatever it is. I like that you’re talking about each person’s “right” things, their intuition, their gut feelings. I can buy into that, although I certainly don’t do the right thing for me all the time. However, maybe some of those seeming “mistakes” help me find the real right thing eventually. Plenty to think about here. Thanks! Dottie

  2. THAT is the one of the most challenging aspects I have had to face in life and the most rewarding. I had to build up the courage to put myself out there! When doing the “right thing”, I find peace and no longer experience that inner struggle. Doing the right thing is the best life lesson I have learned, and it took me a long time to realize how important it is – not only for decision making but to be true to yourself. I agree, doing the right thing for me doesn’t always make others happy, but it sets me free and gives me room to grow! I love that you shared this profound statement, Kath…food for thought for everyone. This piece was worth waiting for! xoxo

  3. Sometimes I do the right thing and sometimes I do what I want but each time my decisions are taken (if they are big ones and worth any salt!) with a lot of thought. Having a background in counselling and having been on the receiving end in my life time of people ‘just doing what they want,’ which in a few moments in my life has meant they have physically or emotionally hurt me deliberately. There are a lot of factors taken into account with my decisions – knowing myself has meant that usually I am able to make these decisions quite quickly and most times I listen to my gut – although there has been a particular instance within the last week which has made me as a person say to my gut – ‘hey, i’m not sure that I want to do this.’ Which has thrown up some really interesting conversations within myself! Great post Kath!

  4. You are amazing! You always seem to know the right thing to say to me, which helps me understand. 🙂 Yet sometimes I don’t know if I want to do it!

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  6. Sometimes I think the right thing is going a little further than you normally do. I have been pondering the little things lately. Holding the door, for a few seconds, for someone, instead of caring only about me getting on my way. Calling the person that comes to my mind and just saying hello. Offering or doing something for someone I love, even if it will take away from what I had planned for the day. For me, it is action on the intentions that come to mind.

    Of course, there are the big things, too, that I need to do the right things for…new career, part-time job, or travel opportunity. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    • “it is action on the intentions that come to mind.” I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes we just have to slow life down and pay attention to those “right” things that make the little moments so much better. Who couldn’t benefit from a little extra kindness? I enjoyed reading your thoughts. Thanks for commenting.

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