Honesty Today

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you
— Honesty, Billy Joel · 1978

Can honesty stand alone?

Practicing honesty has been passed down through generations as a sacred teaching. Our elders, our religions and our leaders have gifted us edicts and encouragement to live in honest ways. They illustrated to us that honesty promotes our evolution as a human family - among the sacred keys to living and co-existing on this planet. Honesty is powerful and demonstrates respect, trust, maturity and strength.

If we recall the last time we were truly honest with ourselves, we may have noticed up-ticks in our health and well-being. Notre Dame Researchers explored the impact of lying on health over the course of 10 weeks. When participants told fewer lies, big or small, physical complaints including headaches and other mental health conditions like depressed moods decreased.

Conversely, honesty has a twin sibling called dishonesty - the way of the shadow. Lying has devastating effects which dis-empower the Self and others. It causes major breakdowns in systems and relationships. The impact of dishonesty shatters people, communities and our world family. None of us escapes from dishonesty’s path of chaos, shame and destruction.

We can agree every human has been touched by honesty and dishonesty throughout their lives. Countless stories in history have taught us we are capable of being fraudulent, of disguising ourselves and of twisting our language to benefit the ego. Although we value honesty more than dishonesty on paper, honesty appears to be a lonely practice, especially in our modern world. It appears we often choose dishonesty. We tell ourselves it makes people feel better. Dishonesty is often used to reward us for what we don’t want to hear or deal with:

  • The truth.

  • Whatever is life-altering, difficult or painful.

  • The experience of reality.

  • Struggle.

BIG questions

  1. Is honesty lonely because we don’t believe in it anymore or because we have lost our way?

  2. Can we map-out fewer paths to dishonesty and more to honesty?

 “There is only one Absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it. When you find truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action reflects truth or reflects illusion. Can Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. (Mere symbols.) They only point to it.”  -Eckhart Tolle,  A New Earth

“There is only one Absolute Truth, and all other truths emanate from it. When you find truth, your actions will be in alignment with it. Human action reflects truth or reflects illusion. Can Truth be put into words? Yes, but the words are, of course, not it. (Mere symbols.) They only point to it.”

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

This amazing quote illuminates the chasm which remains between truth and honesty. To live honestly means aligning with Truth. To live honestly allows us to be free while simultaneously opening our hearts.

Does honesty mean being truthful? If we believe the three truths (Peace, Love, Joy) are eternal, then living our honesty becomes a path toward which we dedicate our lives. This path leads to our highest, Divine Selves and ultimately towards Enlightenment.

Standing up for honesty is hard work.

How to commit to honesty? First take note of what it means to be honest and remain honest. Being honest starts with the inner self choosing Truth to create freedom, peace, love and joy. It orients the whole person to show up with no agenda and no privileged information. “I am honest.” Staying honest is knowing the planet is dependent on us following this Truth. The planet survives by our honest contributions, actions and willingness to serve the world. Just as the Notre Dame researchers discovered the benefits of honesty in individuals, we can barely contemplate the tremendous worldwide impact of how honest intentions can rewrite old stories and mend compromised hearts everywhere.

New York Times writer Judi Ketteler published an article highlighting her attempts at honesty. Her plan? A journey “…to jot down instances throughout the day where I had to make a choice concerning honesty and notice how it felt.” The journey to be 100% honest with her kids, husband, at work and in social media was dissected under her new microscope. The discoveries bolstered Ketteler’s ability to summon courage in the moment, and allowed her inner compass to guide her. Being honest gave her the resolve to stay honest. Ketteler began to notice how this growing influence positively changed her and her world.

Second need to admit that a lie is a lie. Ketteler highlights the work of behavioral economist and author of The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely. His experiments show that individuals cheat “up to the level where they start to feel badly about their own internal sense of integrity.” Contributors to dishonesty include rationalizing our own dishonesty, observing dishonesty in others, and feeling highly distressed.

Ariely offers three pointers on how to increase honesty:

  1. Pledge our name to confirm honesty.
    Use moral reminders before making a choice.

  2. Supervise and hold others accountable.

Honesty builds us up and never lets us down.

If we think about Ariely’s experiments and our low threshold to practice consistent honesty, we need to surround ourselves with honesty's benefits. Quotes, images and phone reminders help keep us on track. For honesty to stick to our bones. we need time for reflection alone or with those committed to the same cause. Honesty builds a framework for eight core anchors to human survival (and thriving):

  • Respect

  • Safety

  • Honoring self and others

  • Tolerance

  • Mutual benefit

  • Character

  • Light-heartedness

  • Connection

We won’t be lost in a dark tunnel once we begin the journey towards honesty. According to the article, Honesty- How it Benefits You and Others, the author sings the praises of a life of honesty. He says signs of honesty reinforce our devotion and lead us to further truth.

What does honesty look like?

The benefits of honesty are endless. What would you add to this list?

  • May make us feel uncomfortable initially, but honesty has a lasting positive effect.

  • Uplifts the heart and spirit.

  • Demonstrates love and compassion for all.

  • Teaches clarity.

  • Promotes generosity and kindness.

  • Brings out gratitude.

  • Generates no regrets.

  • Demonstrates success and responsibility.

  • Feels authentic and genuine.

  • Inspires co-creativity.

  • Moves us from the inside out.

  • Brings dignity to the table.

  • Sets up healthy boundaries.

Reminder!

Don’t kick honesty to the curb to suffer one more day in a dark corner! Shine the light on Living with truth and offering your gifts of peace, love and joy to all beings.