Your Beliefs Are Irrelevant

Beautiful young couple standing over blackboard background with drawn hornes and halo and pointing on you

Do your beliefs really matter? Not really.

A few Sundays ago, after I finished my morning workout, I decided to drive to the gas station down the street to fill up my tank before heading home.

For some reason, I wasn’t paying attention to the fact that the stoplight in front of me had just turned green as I stared blankly ahead at the road in front of me…without moving an inch. Even worse, while I was daydreaming in my car, I was blocking a line of cars who were trying to exit from a nearby parking lot.

Within seconds, I was quickly reminded (in a not-so-gentle manner) to move, by a man who was trying to exit from that parking lot:

<Car horn honking loudly>: “Hey motherf—–, are you retarded?? Move your damn car!”

Whoa. I was shocked.

No, I wasn’t shocked that he cursed at me, or that he used the “r-word” (which I despise), or that his wife (presumably) and his two young kids were in the car and witnessed him go off on me.

I was shocked because that exchange took place as he was driving out of the church parking lot after Sunday service.

What Really Changes the World

I’ve noticed an alarming trend in the world lately, and this interaction demonstrates it perfectly.

It’s the idea that our beliefs actually matter.

They don’t. Not at all. I’ve never seen a belief alone that has positively impacted the world in any way.

It is the behavior that we demonstrate consistently that has the power to positively change the world–not our beliefs.

Behavior, by definition, is the way that one conducts oneself–especially toward others.

I’m not sure what was in the guy’s mind while he was cursing me out, but I’m going to guess that his behavior was not in line with the beliefs that were being discussed in the service that he attended a few minutes earlier.

But this is much deeper than the guy in the church parking lot–for all that I know, maybe he was in a desperate hurry to get somewhere (remain in curiosity, right?)

More importantly, aren’t we all at least a little guilty of behaving in ways that run counter to our beliefs?

  • We believe that our families are our #1 priority, but we barely spend any meaningful time with them or tell them how much they mean to us.
  • We believe in deeply impactful causes (e.g., caring for abused/neglected children), but we don’t devote any of our time or money those causes.
  • We believe in kindness and positivity, but we engage in mindless gossip about coworkers, flip off people on the freeway, and let our mood determine our manners.

Let me ask you this–in any of those situations, do your beliefs really matter?

Nope, they don’t. You will be (and always should be) judged by your behavior.

Hiding behind well-crafted and positive-sounding beliefs will not change that one bit.

Your Actions Don’t Really Matter Either

Let me take this one step further–notice that I said that you’ll be judged by your behavior. I didn’t say that you’ll be judged by your actions.

Unfortunately, our actions don’t always tell an accurate story about us either.

Does it really matter if you go to church every Sunday, go to yoga three times a week and proudly say “Namaste” at the end of each session, or meditate on world peace each night before you go to bed, if you still consistently behave like a self-centered ass for the majority of your day?

You guessed it–no.

Going to church each week doesn’t make someone a “good and kind person” any more than wearing a Denver Broncos jersey from the mall makes a person a “Super Bowl champion.”

Our actions may look good on the surface, and they may even fool some people too. But in reality, it’s only our behavior that positively or negatively affects the world that we share.

And no matter how hard we may try, our consistent behavior is incapable of fooling anyone.

It always tells the true story.

What You Believe In Is Not A Secret

Make sure your video is in sync with your audio.” – Robin Sharma

There is something incredibly soul-affirming about behaving in a way that is consistently in line with our beliefs.

Besides making you feel good about yourself (which increases your self-esteem), it also attracts other positive people to you who can sense your integrity and authenticity.

If you’ve been reading The Positivity Solution for awhile, then you know that I’m all-in on this kindness and positivity stuff. This isn’t a game to me, or some cute fad that I can ride for a few years until I decide to shift my focus onto something else.

This is who I am.

But tell me–would you keep reading each week if I made a habit of getting into drunken bar fights each weekend, or if I made fun of people from different ethnic groups/religions/sexual orientations (etc.) in my Monday blog posts?

I hope not.

Just like the quote from Robin Sharma said above, my video (behavior) would not be in sync with my audio (words). And if you’ve ever watched a movie where the video and audio are not in sync, it’s an unbearable experience.

In my opinion, it’s even worse to watch a person in real life who is not in sync. Whatever you do, don’t be that person.

Regardless of whether you are in sync or not, here is the all-important truth that many people fail to realize:

It’s your consistent behavior that shows the world what you really believe in. 

So, what do you believe in?

Actually, don’t answer that–the answer is irrelevant anyway.

The world will find out soon enough through your behavior.

Your Turn

Have you noticed the trend that people don’t align their beliefs with their behavior? Do you have any challenges aligning your beliefs with your behavior? Either way, jump into conversation in the comments below and make your voice heard!

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
Shola

Latest posts by Shola (see all)

Comments

  1. Good Morning, Shola!

    It is an unfortunate state of things for many people who claim to be ‘faithful whatevers’ to then turn around and act like total jerks. I would blame human nature and taking the easy way out. As you have pointed out many times, when we make the easy choice, it leads to less than ideal behavior.

    I do disagree with you, however. Or maybe I would just add something to your initial premise. Your beliefs are irrelevant UNLESS YOU LIVE ACCORDING TO THEM. That’s the part people seem to forget.

    I am an extremely faithful Christian (I prefer the term Jesus Freak, thankyouverymuch). Would you say I live according to my beliefs? I feel like you know enough about me to honestly answer that question—I am not being flippant.

    But for me, it is hard work and dedication to my beliefs that make me live the way I do.

    It would be way easier for me to be rude, ignore those in distress, or spend my days complaining. However, because I don’t just say I believe in Christ (I strive to live the way He says I should), I can’t do any of those things.

    Like everything in life, it is all about our choices. Your beliefs are a choice, and whether or not you live by them is also a choice.

    Thank you for the important message, Shola!

    Hugs,

    Kathy

    • I’m 100% with you, Kathy. Believe it or not, we don’t disagree at all–the key is that what matters most is how we behave (especially toward others). If it’s our beliefs that get us to behave well, then that is awesome. But in the end, when the rubber hits the road, the thing that I’m most concerned with is how we treat each other, not what we believe in. Sadly, as you pointed out, it is too easy to take the easy choice when faced with a challenge (or worse, hide behind their beliefs). My dream is that more people will choose kindness as their go-to behavior when the going gets tough. It’s an ambitious dream, but it’s what I’m fighting for!

  2. Good morning Shola, and I hope your week is off to a good start! I am so sad to hear of you being verbally abused. Not to make light of it, but your experience reminds me of a saying I once heard (regarding church-goers who don’t act nice): “Hospitals aren’t full of well people, and no one criticizes a sick person for going to the hospital.” So, maybe you encountered a troubled soul who has been attending church with his family, and trying to learn how exactly to live according to his beliefs. It is hard for us who practice positivity, it’s a constant challenge, to deal with people who seem so negative, even hostile. Perhaps part of our positivity can be to make an effort to not judge those who seem so off-course (having been there myself). Seekers come in all forms, and everyone’s path is screwy and, from the outside, seems nonsensical. You responded in positivity, by not cursing back or flipping him off, so you did not escalate whatever struggle he was experiencing. Sometimes that’s all we can do. That, and not let those who are lost make us feel jaded. Thank you for talking about this, because I think this is one of our biggest challenges to positivity, to stay on course in the face of the world’s messiness. Have a great week Shola, and everyone else here.

    • You are so right, Donna. One of my mottos that keeps me positive when I’m faced with rude behavior is to “stay out of judgment and remain in curiosity.” That simple shift in thinking allowed me to have much more empathy for that guy than I would have for him otherwise. Most importantly, I sincerely hope that this blog post will help people to focus on more on their behavior than on their beliefs. It’s not always easy to do, but I know that it’s our behavior that truly has the power to positively change the world. That’s my goal 🙂

  3. Another great post. Made me think of the behavior I have towards my self. Sometimes that rude person shouting is me shouting to myself. I had the opposite happen where I thought the light was green and it was red. Fortunately the other drivers just let me go through, but I was so hard on myself for a few minutes.

    • I feel you, Lili. I’m glad that you brought this up, because even though this post is about the behavior of others, it is FAR more important to be aware of how we behave toward ourselves. There isn’t a more impactful gift that we can give to ourselves than the gift of kindness, and believe me, you deserve to give yourself that gift 🙂

  4. Good morning Shola,

    This is a hot topic for me. I could go on for pages, but I will try to be concise in making my point.

    I have a degree in philosophy including the study of all the major religions. I generally know about the history of a particular belief system of those I’m talking to, but I am frequently admonished for having a different point of view. I have experienced extreme vitriol by those who claim to be devoutly pious. I’ve been called some pretty nasty things and even threatened for not blindly accepting what has been presented to me as the “truth.” I do not begrudge anyone their beliefs and I don’t wish to generalize as many of the faithful follow the tenets of their respective religion. However, all too often I encounter intolerance even though I’m expected to be tolerant of them.

    I was raised to be compassionate and considerate, I constantly think about how my behavior may affect another. I frequently don’t enjoy the same consideration. I am and strive to be a better person even without following a faith based organization – who’d a thought! Not embracing your “belief” wholeheartedly is meaningless.

    Hypocrisy is not an attractive quality. I hope your words resonate to those who may be too quick to judge.

    Have a beautiful day!
    Kat

    • Beautifully said as always, Kat! Yes, hypocrisy is not an attractive quality at all, and I agree with you wholeheartedly–not embracing your belief consistently is meaningless. Just like you, I don’t begrudge anyone for their beliefs, but I’ll take acts of kindness, compassion, and consideration over someone else’s belief any day of the week.

  5. Hey Shola! I hope your week is off to a great start. You done really started somethin’ right here because I can write for days about this topic. I’ll share some of my Southern Fried Wisdom on this topic.

    Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark (NJ), once said, “Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all God’s children. Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”

    As a Christian believer, this powerful quote grounds me. I’ll take it that the man, who went off on you, did not read this quote. If you had that quote plastered on your bumper, he would have been convicted of his actions.
    Your beliefs are irrelevant only if you actions do not line up with your beliefs.

    We all have something inside of us that makes us tick. We are human. We are imperfect. However, our goal is to strive each day to do better every day. We will not get it right all the time. We say it all the time, not just at my church. I hear a lot of Christians conveniently using scripture (For we all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory) as a convenient way of justifying our wrongdoings and shortcomings. We’re doing a disservice to ourselves and others when we don’t acknowledge what we’ve done wrong and make a genuine effort to repent.

    Shola, you handled yourself appropriately. What would have happened if you cussed out this man? Like my pastor would, if someone walked in on you exchanging harsh words, he or she wouldn’t know which one was the fool!

    Don’t talk about it; be about it. If you profess your beliefs, loud and proud, especially on social media, make sure that they line up with your beliefs. Otherwise, your beliefs won’t matter and you won’t be taken seriously.

    • Melissa, I love your Southern Fried Wisdom! That Cory Booker quote was EPIC, and I wish that I thought to include it in my original blog post because I love every word of it. In the end, you summed it up beautifully, “don’t talk about it, be about it.” Regardless of the religion that we choose to follow or (ahem) the positivity blog posts that we choose to write, none of it matters if we don’t conduct ourselves accordingly. Thanks for being part of the solution, and thanks for sharing that Cory Booker quote with me!

  6. Good Morning Shola and everyone. I have yet to read one of your pages and not be inspired and comforted. This one is a real eye-opener! I think most, if not all of us, have been he subject of a rude, verbally abusive driver or a person who goes to church faithfully, but acts in ways that seem to contradict what church no doubt teaches, etc. And many, if not most of us are guilty of that behavior, at least some of the time. The person on the receiving end of the abuse, as you were, certainly wouldn’t think of the person honking and cursing as being a kind, helpful person, likely what that person thinks of themselves. Great, thought-provoking essay! Thank you as always for the inspiration!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Maxine! I agree–we’ve all been on the wrong end of inappropriate behavior, and it’s not a fun experience. It may seem overly simplistic, but I think that the fastest way to positively change the world is to be the change that we want to see in the world (props to Gandhi). Our consistent behavior of kindness and compassion is how to make that happen.

  7. Hi, I love this post so much! I live in the south but am originally from the north. I have experienced the exact same situation as you, many times. It’s funny how when I lived up north it was kind of just a given that people act like that all the time, but when I moved down here where southern hospitality is supposed to be the norm and people force their religious beliefs into every possible conversation, I found these types of interactions more upsetting.

    Two things occurred to me, why was it just accepted in the north? We northerners are guilty of having a “go-go-go” attitude and don’t really think about anything else, which is unfortunate because we end up forgetting the people we are rushing past are in fact people.

    The other thing kept popping into my mind is if you’re not going to live by the tenets of your religion why attend service? I know there are lot of people who really study and try to be the best versions of themselves(kudos to them) but there are a lot who don’t. It seems like trying to be an olympic swimmer when you hate the water. I wonder what those people “get” out of going to church or service every week when it never translates to their day to day life like you mentioned above. There must be some kind of pay off or they wouldn’t go back for more right?

Speak Your Mind

*