I have come to realize that feelings don’t count for much. What does count is the action–or inaction–that accompanies them.

I’m not saying that feelings are worthless. On the contrary, feelings measure what is important to us, and they often serve as the launch pad for the deeds and behaviors that make us who we are. They can spur us toward activity or leave us huddled in a corner. But feelings without actions are just, well, feelings. They don’t do anything.

Think of it this way. Say you really appreciate a co-worker’s diligence and appreciation to detail. Does that appreciation make a difference to anyone if you keep it to yourself?

Or you love your kids, your mom, your spouse, your dog. Until you demonstrate that love through your actions, does it matter to them? How does your good feeling translate into something meaningful in their lives?

Or say you didn’t get a promotion you thought you deserved and now you’re disappointed and angry. Can’t you give value to those feelings by letting them drive you to work harder, perform better, and speak up for yourself?

Of course, feelings can also spur negative action or even paralysis. Regardless, if left untended and unacted upon, feelings only matter to the person experiencing them. Whether positive or negative, it’s not the feeling itself, but rather the demonstration of it that makes it count to anyone but you.

Love someone? Hate the way your neighborhood looks? Enjoy a friend’s company? Appreciate a staff member’s initiative? Feel sad for a friend who is suffering? Then do something about it. Otherwise, you’re the only one who cares.

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