Section 3: LIVING WITH GOODNESS
Goodness and Honesty Go Hand in Hand
This is one of five lessons in our library focused on the need for living your life in an honest way. Because of external pressures, as well as our desire to be accepted by others, we can find ourselves stretching the truth or, worse, telling an outright lie in order to impress someone. We do this because we are focused on ourselves and the impression we are making on others. One of the significant advantages of working to increase the level of goodness coming from your life is that it changes your focus from yourself to “the other guy.” Clearly, a meaningful life is not dependent on the favorable impressions of others, but on the degree to which we use our life to help others in some way.
The first step toward greatness is to be honest.
Honesty is not only the first step toward greatness,
it is greatness itself.
How Honest Are You?
We start this lesson with an important question: How honest are you? Most of us consider ourselves to be fairly honest, but take a few minutes to assess your personal honesty score. Of course, you have to be totally honest with yourself to benefit from this little exercise.
Are you always honest with your family members? Probably not. Are you always honest with your friends and others with whom you come in contact each day? Probably not. Are you always honest with yourself as you consider if you should work harder or study more? Probably not. Most of us are honest about 90 percent of the time, maybe slightly more, but it’s being honest in that other 10 percent, the little dishonest part of us, that will make a major difference in your life.
“So what’s the point?” you ask.
The point is this…you can’t compartmentalize dishonesty. You can’t consider yourself to be an honest person if you are honest about “most things” but dishonest about “other things.” Part of you can’t be dishonest and at the same time consider yourself to be an honest person. Oversimplified, the approximately 10 percent that is dishonest “taints” or overshadows the 90 percent plus that is honest. For example, if your friends catch you being dishonest about something, they don’t say, “Oh, that’s just Tom’s dishonest part.” Instead, they say, “You know, Tom is not an honest guy.”
So as you read through this lesson, spend some time thinking about the choices you need to make to become a totally honest individual. Make that first real step toward greatness referenced in the quote above by making the choice to be totally honest in everything you say and do.
Why Is Honesty So Important?
Honesty is the most important quality in your life because it’s the gateway to trust. It’s the basic foundation or underpinning
of every relationship. Every connection that you have built thus far in your life, or will build in the future, is based on the degree to which you trust the person and whether the person trusts you. If you have a reputation of being dishonest, you will have a hard time making and keeping friends. On the other hand, if you are an honest person, it will be easy for people to trust and like you.
Further, honesty is the fundamental pillar of our society. Our courts rely on “the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” If we as a society decided that honesty wasn’t the best policy, then no one would pay their taxes or their bills, police wouldn’t report serious crimes, and students would have no problem cheating on their tests. Honesty is doing the right thing and telling the truth…all of the time no matter what.
It’s important to be an honest person for the following reasons:
Honesty builds trust
As mentioned earlier, every connection you have with others, to some extent, is conditioned upon whether you trust one another. Without honesty there is no foundation for sharing trust with another individual whether it be with a colleague, family member, acquaintance, or friend. Every one of these connections requires honesty in order to survive and ultimately thrive.
Honesty improves relationships
Having an honest relationship where you trust the other person gives you a sense of security. In fact, most people will list the quality of “honesty” first when asked what they want in a relationship. This is because most people don’t like to be lied to or to be around a dishonest person. When you have an important relationship with someone, it will always have developed due to the level of honesty that exists. It is, by far, the most important tool in developing and protecting our relationships.
Honesty significantly enhances your character
When we are honest, we are not just thinking about ourselves but about the people around us as well. We tend to think before we speak and make more positive choices because we know that our behavior can either help or harm the trust that binds our relationships. Essentially, honesty enhances our character and helps us to be a much better person.
Honesty helps us to be careful with our words
Honesty improves us in many ways. Not the least of which, it motivates us to choose our words carefully, because we can hurt someone we care about. Have you ever been dishonest with someone? How did that make you feel? Your words have power, and when you are an honest person, you will have more motivation to use them wisely so you won’t hurt those around you.
Honesty helps us resolve problems
When you are an honest person, you can communicate better. You can work through problems or misunderstandings much better when you tell the truth. In all relationships, there will be times when problems arise. An honest person will have an easier time rectifying these problems because when you are honest you can work through almost anything.
Honesty is more than not lying.
It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.
James E. Faust
Improving Your Honesty Score
Here are five things you can do to improve your honesty score and, in turn, improve your quality of life. Take some time to reflect on each one of these and the choices you need to make to get your score as close to 100 percent as possible.
Be honest with yourself
First and foremost, you need to be truthful with yourself. You cannot deal effectively with others or the outside world if on the inside you are kidding or lying to yourself about something. Making excuses for your behavior inside of your head only hinders you from being a better person next time. For example, if you let yourself think that something is okay as long as you don’t get caught, you will not be developing the mental skill to deal with a similar situation next time. Accept reality, inside and out. When you are honest with yourself, you will automatically place yourself in a position, uncomfortable though it may be for the moment, to manage your life more effectively.
Spend your time with honest people
We are in contact with a variety of people every day. However, we have the control to involve ourselves with certain people based on the choices we make. Think about the people you interact with. Are they honest people? Are they helping you be an honest person? Fill your life with people who cultivate honesty, and in return you will be able to live a more honest life.
Don’t compare yourself to others
People are sometimes dishonest because they want to make themselves look better. They try to impress others by exaggerating or, in some cases, telling an outright lie. While you may not always feel confident in yourself, it’s much better to simply be honest, be yourself, and work on improvements later. No one is perfect, so respect yourself for who you are and the fact that you are a totally honest individual. If you do, in spite of any pressures to do otherwise, there’s little doubt that, at some point, you will have a very successful life.
Make honest choices
You make close to a hundred choices each and every day. Some are very small, but all of them are important. Even if you need to stop and think for a few minutes about what you are going to say or do, always conduct yourself and make your choices in a totally honest way. One of these days you will look back on your life and see that living honestly was, by far, the best thing to do.
It's always best to go with honest.
It means you never have to worry about getting your story straight.
What, if anything, do you need to change to become a totally honest person?
Be specific and write your responses in your notebook
so you can check back to see how you are doing.
Name someone you know who is dishonest.
Briefly describe how you feel about them.
If you were shown to be dishonest in some way,
would you expect your friends to overlook it and feel okay about you?