I’ve previously stated that you should honor your desires
and do what feels right to you. I still believe this now, but I want to be
clear about what I mean by it.
The phrase “Do what feels good” typically has negative connotations. It’s often used as a way of justifying all sorts of behaviors that are obviously destructive and immoral.
This, however, is never what I’ve meant by the phrase. For an example, at track meets in high school I would sometimes say, "I can't wait for the party!" Then one of my teammates would ask, "What party?" I'd reply, "The race." And I was being perfectly serious. To me, race time was party time.
As such, I’d never tell someone to rob a bank simply because it would be an amazing experience. Sadly, though, it’s possible for my words to be misinterpreted as such.
Rather than Do what feels right to you or Focus on the experience you want to have, the clearest phrasing is Do what makes sense to you. This is the phrasing I use on my Home page.
Do what makes sense to you implies that you should use both your instincts and your logical mind to make decisions. Yes, do what feels right, but also do what you think is right. That will keep you out of a lot of trouble.
I advocate doing what feels right because what feels right to me is definitely NOT eating cake and sleeping all day and doing drugs and carelessly taking others’ lives. No—incidentally, what makes me feel best is also what I think is best. I think it’s best for me to eat very simply, and that is what makes me feel best, too. I think it’s best for me to be relatively disciplined, adhere to certain principles, and uphold certain values. Somehow, magically, living in this manner feels good, too. Excellent, even.
Maybe it’s not what other people mean, but when I say to, “Do what feels good,” I’m not advocating hedonism at all. Hedonism disgusts me. When I tell you to, “Do what feels good,” I’m telling you to do what you know IS good.
It shouldn’t be hard for you to figure out what is good. Eating healthily is good. Earning a living by your own respectable labor is good. Protecting and nourishing the people you care about is good. Running 12 miles through the mountains is good—and it feels fricken great, too.
All these things feel good—and they are good, too. Who would’ve thought?
Likewise, you know that sleeping around doesn’t feel good. You know that waking up with a hangover doesn’t feel good. You know that swindling other people doesn’t feel good. And, obviously, these things aren’t good, either.
The Good is Timeless
Always remember that truth is timeless. Don’t just do what feels good right now—do what you will still feel good about at the end of the day, five years from now, and while on your deathbed.
I definitely feel good about all the early morning runs I did five years ago, as well as the difficult dietary changes I made at that time. In some ways, those actions didn’t feel good—they made me feel sore, tired, and even sick. But those discomforts were only little feelings-- insignificant sensations and emotions that were overridden by the sense that I was on the right path. Indeed, the big feeling I had was good. Even though it was at times painful, I knew that I was doing the right thing; and, ultimately, it was gratifying.
Now, even five years later, I thank the heck out of myself for it every day. My health improves year after year, and it all started with doing what I knew was right—even when it hurt. It’s inspiring to know that 16-year olds can make some good decisions. J
The path may not always feel good, but it should feel right.