First Things First
If you want to step up the level of honesty in your life, the first thing you should understand is there are no degrees or shades of honesty. There is no such thing as saying or doing something that is “partly honest.” You are either honest about something, in what you say or do, or you’re not. As John F. Dodge, the automobile manufacturing pioneer, pointed out:
There is no twilight zone in honesty.
Something is either right or it’s wrong.
When telling a story to our friends, we sometimes have the tendency to throw in a few things to make the tale a little more
exciting or a bit more humorous. To lessen the importance of such actions, we’ve come to refer to them as “little white lies.” But straying from the truth, even in small ways, is a poor choice. When it becomes apparent to others that we’re not being honest, we lose credibility, and people wonder if they can trust us about anything. Little lies are small steps in the wrong direction, and trust with others, once damaged, is difficult to rebuild.
Section 3: LIVING WITH GOODNESS
THE TWO PARTS OF HONESTY
Putting Them Together to Create the Whole
We typically know—quickly and for certain—if we are being honest with our friends, family, or associates. Interestingly, most of the time “they know” as well. However, being honest with ourselves is more challenging as we have a way of justifying things to ourselves whether they are justified or not. A certain level of maturity is needed to fully “level with ourselves.”
Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.
Two Areas of Honesty
There are two basic areas of honesty: being honest with others and being honest with yourself. Other people can usually determine if we are telling the truth or not. They can use commonly known facts and real-life circumstances to verify what we do and say. Being honest with ourselves, however, is strictly confidential—just between God and you, so to speak. Being honest with others is relatively easy to achieve; being honest with ourselves is often much more difficult.
Being Honest with Others
As we take a deeper look at what it means to be honest with others, it’s important to recognize the connection between the act of honesty and the information being shared. Building trust between people requires that we’re concerned about more than the actual information exchanged. It’s not just the details involved that builds trust, but the fact that you sharing those details in a truthful and honest way.
For example, a young person might want to share the fact that he made first chair as a trumpet player in the band and let others praise him for his achievement. Total honesty, however, would mean that he also explained the fact that the former first
chair just broke his arm and is out for the season. As Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect, explained:
The truth is more important than the facts.
Being Honest with Ourselves
This is more difficult because we live under the influence of other people’s opinions and want to be accepted by them. As a result, we often make choices based on the opinion of someone else without listening to what our heads and our hearts are telling us to do. Without the ability and the willingness to be totally honest with ourselves, our lives are subject to heading off in the wrong direction.
The success of many of the choices we make is dependent on being honest with ourselves. For examples, what we need to do to improve ourselves, what we believe, and what we want to achieve with our lives require the ability to be absolutely truthful as we think about the alternatives in front of us. No question, success in life depends on our ability to be honestly “in touch” with ourselves and to be in tune with the Spirit of Goodness within us.
No question, being honest with yourself is more difficult than it seems. We can “kid ourselves” or mentally skip over something that we just don’t want to face head on. Sometimes, especially in something of great importance, it takes some time to complete our thought process about it. If you need some help to work through your thinking about something, don’t hesitate to seek the counsel and assistance from someone whose opinion you would value and trust.
The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.
Work Hard to Be an Honest Person
So being honest with others and being honest with ourselves are fundamental to living a meaningful life. Each type of honesty supports a series of choices and must be well-managed throughout our lifetime. There will be times when you will be motivated to look the other way or stretch the truth beyond your comfort zone . . . beyond the edge of honesty. But don’t do it. Temporary praise is not worth the price of losing your integrity. Remain true to yourself and to others and be completely honest every day of your life.
If you choose to be honest in everything you say and do, at some point you will look back over your life and be unbelievably grateful that you lived it in such an honest way.
Have you ever caught others telling a “little white lie” when talking to you?
How did it make you feel about them?
Who do you know that exemplifies honesty in all aspects of their life?
Do you feel that they are an individual you can trust?
What is something that you have lied to yourself about?
What choice can you make to correct this and never lie to yourself again?