Musings on the Importance of Integrity

In the past year or so I have been on a journey to become a happier, better, more positive version of myself. I have realized that that is a much more complicated goal than I had imagined. It has basically forced me to examine every aspect of my life and think about what it all means. Right now I am thinking about how integrity fits into all of that.

in·teg·ri·ty /inˈteɡrədē/

1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

synonyms: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness

antonyms: dishonesty

Seems like the first rule of being a person of integrity is to be an honest person. I admit in the past I have struggled to be an honest person. When I was a kid, and even as a teenager, I lied constantly. I don’t even know why I did! You could have shown me a video of me, clearly doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing and I would still lie. I would die before admitting to any wrong doing.

My mother would beg me to just be truthful. She would promise me I wouldn’t be in any trouble if I would just tell the truth. She would get other family members to ask me things hoping I would tell the truth to someone. I never did though. As an adult I am embarrassed by the amount of lies I told as a child. Especially the ones that were obvious and stupid, I must’ve looked so foolish.

“Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

― Unknown

As an adult I lied less but still got myself in some trouble here and there because of lies. I think that’s normal though. I think most, it not all, people lies sometimes. I think as I get older lying feels like so much more work than just telling the truth. I don’t ever want to lie again. I have no need to. If everything I do at the very least comes from good intentions then I can take responsibility for whatever consequences come.

But there are many ways to lie. People of integrity do not with hold information or lie by omission. People of integrity do not hide their true feelings or pretend to feel something that they do not. People of integrity do not say things just because they think people want to hear or lie to spare others feelings. They also do not say things just to get the reactions that they want, they do not manipulate.

There is a deeper sort of honesty that I think integrity requires too. I think of it as a fearless sort of honesty. For me that means not just telling the truth, but speaking my truth. Speaking about what is inside of me and what I believe is right and wrong, all the time. In order to do that you have to have a good understanding of morality and a set of beliefs to preach to the world. You have to have a drive to show people the truth, even before they ask for it.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.“

— C.S. Lewis

After that you have to match your words and beliefs up with your actions. You have to strive to be honest and righteous in all things that you do. For the most part my beliefs on morality can be summed up in to two rules “treat others the way you would want to be treated” and “how would you feel if it was you?”. They aren’t much but they keep me at least operating from good intentions.

Lately I have added two new rules to live by. One is to I try to live in such a way that I make the world better by being here, even if only a little bit. I try to leave every room and person in better condition then when I found them. The other is to “first, do no harm”. I’ve learned recently that I can’t always help a situation or a person, but I can at least try not to make anything worse.

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

— Gandhi

I have a vision of the person I want to be and that person is authentic and real both inside and out and both privately and publicly. This person has nothing to hide and always tries to do the right thing. This person isn’t perfect though and when she is wrong she admits it and tries to make it right. This person does these things even when it is hard to do. She does it because it build trust and respect and if the surest way to a life without fear.


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