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The social groups here in Bend, Oregon, that I attend regularly, talk a lot about emotional growth, spiritual attainment, meditation, and love. When an appropriate time to comment about these things occurs, I make my arguments for externalizing these inner feelings into some form of physical action. I claim that saying the words is fine, but doing the actions the words imply is what is important.

Last week I mentioned a failure to do the simple thing I had planned to do. It was not eating until a specified time of day. Debbie and I are now doing a sixteen hour fast every day for a month as a diet plan. It isn’t changing what we eat, only limiting the hours that we do eat. It is a remarkably easy diet to do and our automatic new computer-linked scale has already shown a couple of pounds loss for each of us. We are only aiming at five pounds loss, so this isn’t anything spectacular, but it is something that requires a modicum of attention.

I accidentally failed when someone offered me a small piece of chocolate brownie because I failed to remember that I was on a sixteen-hour diet and ate it during my preplanned fasting time. No big deal, most people would say, it’s only a few calories, but to me it was important because I had failed to keep a promise to myself. That kind of failure requires a personal punishment and I chose the delaying the beginning of eating after the daily sixteen-hour fast, for one more hour.

That example demonstrates to me that even making a simple commitment to one’s self is easily violated. That’s important because saying the right words about emotional growth, spiritual attainment, meditation, and love doesn’t automatically translate into a person’s doing those self-proclaimed right things. Those important words are abstract and much harder to remember to do during the turmoil of daily living than the easy task of not eating until twelve noon. Making a commitment to another person with whom you have interactions is even easier to ignore when they have no knowledge of your intended new behaviors and your new actions. Your intention would be known only to yourself, and there would be no interpersonal repercussions if you didn’t manifest the serenity you intended for the world that you meditated upon earlier.

Saying the right words might impress others with your good intentions, but it is your right actions that form your habits and your character. Thus the way to evolve into a better person and happier one too is to physically do the right actions.

So, do the right thing!