As my weight loss journey began over a year ago, I had no idea I was about to embark on a spiritual journey as well. Time progressed and pounds were lost when I began to gain an immense appreciation for the complex system of biological checks and balances I was born into. With this appreciation came a vow of respect – I would exercise regularly and eat healthily, nurturing the gift I had been given. As strongly as I grew to feel about this, my actions never truly reflected my belief. As I would reach for the fried food instead of the grilled and choose the internet over exercise, the knowledge that I was defying my belief made me cringe, but it never had the power to stop me. “Where is my belief when it counts?” I often wondered. After much consideration, I found it. It was in my actions. As much as I believed in treating my body with respect, my actions always reflected my true intentions. No amount of contemplation or meditation would change the fact that I chose pizza over salad, repeatedly. Therein lays my true conviction, that our actions define our beliefs.
At a press conference in 2005, former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice said, “We are a country of laws and we do not believe in torture…” Almost four years later, and as a candidate for attorney general, Eric Holder clearly determined that waterboarding, a practice the American government subjected prisoners to at Guantanamo Bay, was torture. The United States doesn’t believe in torture, we just act upon it.
I am not much better myself. When I first became familiar with humility, its power struck me. The idea was constantly swirling around my mind and I began to meditate on it. Eventually, I decided that humility was also one of my beliefs. I felt just as strongly about being humble as I did about treating my body with respect. Yet, every time I answered a question incorrectly or hit a ball into the net, I instinctively began justifying myself to spare any embarrassment. At any cost, I would ensure that whoever heard or saw knew that I was better than my mistake. I tried to deny it, but my actions always seemed to reflect my true belief in pride.
Alas, I have come to the conclusion that our ideological thoughts mask our perception of our true beliefs. We feel justified in our selfish or hatred behaviors because our beliefs contradict them. When our lives are over, we will be remembered for the actions we took and the accomplishments we made, regardless of what we professed to be our beliefs. Henry David Thoreau once said, “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”
This I believe, that our actions define our beliefs.
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