Rule #19. Actions always have consequences.
All actions have consequences, good and bad. If you drink too much, you’re likely to suffer a hangover. If you eat right and exercise, you’re likely to be rewarded with good health and fitness. These are both examples of an action and its corresponding consequence. We never mind when the consequence is positive, but we often rail against it when it’s negative. This is only natural; we like things that feel good and don’t like things that feel bad.
But sometimes we need to feel bad. We need the consequences to our actions, because they give us very important feedback. In the case of the hangover, it exists because while drinking alcohol can be fun, we’re essentially poisoning ourselves. Does that mean I never drink too much? No! The morning after the Wine Walk I felt like I had been hit by a large truck. I tried to hydrate, took some painkillers, and nursed myself along, but I accepted that my folly from the previous night was the cause of my torment. I couldn’t avoid the hangover, but I could have shirked responsibility for it. Instead, I accepted that I had put myself in that situation, coped with the discomfort, and made good with what I needed to do that day.
That’s what this rule is really about; taking responsibility for our actions.
And to do this, we must acknowledge that our actions have consequences, accept those consequences, and understand that whether or not we’re willing to break a rule, social more, or law, they do apply to us. I’m not here to tell you to uphold the letter of the law, nor will I advise you to break it. I’m simply advocating awareness, acceptance, and responsibility. Your actions will have consequences. If you break a rule or a law, you may suffer punishment for it. It doesn’t matter if you think that the law or rule is unjust or shouldn’t apply to you. Because the rules and laws do apply to you. They apply to all of us.
I’m not here to judge you if you decide to speed, camp somewhere you’re not supposed to, or explore an abandoned building. I might warn you about the dangers involved, I might tell you what course I would take in the situation, and I might suggest alternatives, but you will need to make your own decisions. Just remember that those decisions will lead to actions. And actions always have consequences.
But remember, consequences aren’t inherently negative. You can use this rule to improve your life. Think about it this way; an action and a consequence are basically just a cause and an effect. If you want a certain outcome, you just have to figure out what actions to take to reap the proper consequence. So if you want to improve your health and fitness, not to mention your physical appearance, and you know that these are the consequences of a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition, and exercise, then the course is charted. This applies to saving money, learning new skills, meeting new people, and just about everything else in life; think about the outcome, and take the proper action to get what you want. Because whether we like it or not, all actions have consequences, so we might as well make them work for us, instead of against us.
“Rules for Intrepid Living” is an ongoing weekly article that gives potential guidelines for how we can all live a bit more of an intrepid life.