During one of my “fitness role model” training days, I was climbing a high set of steps outdoors in an intense workout session. Many people passed by me, including an overweight mother who was having a hard time carrying her baby down the steps in its stroller.
I passed her at least three times as she struggled to get down, but it never occurred to me to help her. All my mind could think was that by passing her as fast as I could and as many times as possible, I would inspire her to engage in exercise so she could lose weight and be healthy.
Later, a couple passing by called me strong and courageous. Had I actually been strong and courageous—enough to be listening to my spiritual heart—I would have stopped to help the mother and her baby.
Yes, I would still be exercising for enjoyment and physical health, but I would be motivated by love and compassion. It would have been an action based, not on “look how good I am,” but on “here I am and look, someone needs help.”