Honesty – Living an Authentic Life Based on Your Truth.

  • Category: VIRTUES
  • Sub Category: Virtues
  • Published Date: Oct. 3, 2022, 10:47 p.m.

In the past, different societies used various methods to identify whether someone was telling the truth or not. For example, the Chinese made suspects hold rice powder in their mouths while responding to their charge. They were then made to spit it out - the person was believed to be dishonest if the powder was dry. The ancient Chinese believed that lying meant you produced less spit.

 

Other societies made people walk over red-hot stones - if the person survived walking over the hot stones, the person was believed to be innocent. Today we use something called a polygraph machine. This machine measures your sweat, heartbeat, and breathing rate to establish whether you are being honest or not.

Honesty is difficult to define. Often it is described in terms of what it is not. Being honest means that you are not deceitful. You don’t lie. You are truthful and sincere – and you don’t need a polygraph machine to prove it.

 

It doesn’t just mean that you speak the truth. It also means that you provide all the relevant information, which is correct and accurate as far as you know. Being honest also means you correct someone when they misunderstand you and speak up when you see that things are wrong. When you are honest, you think, feel, and behave honestly or truthfully.

 

Practicing Honesty means you don’t cheat, steal, break your promises, or mislead someone (including yourself). When you are honest, you don’t just behave honestly; you also avoid doing several things that make up for poor behavior.

 

When people practice Honesty, it encourages mutual trust, strengthens their relationships, and prevents us from hurting each other.

 

Some people believe there is a difference between being honest and truthful. They agree that being honest means that you don’t tell lies. On the other hand, being honest means telling someone all the details about a matter. Sometimes being truthful can involve oversharing. When you do this, you tell someone far more than they need to know.

 

Withholding information does not necessarily mean that you are lying. Sometimes, you withhold information simply because it is irrelevant or unimportant. Still, you can lie by omission. This happens when you don’t tell the whole truth to deceive someone intentionally. You hold back some information, so they conclude that you want them to make it instead of allowing them to form an opinion based on all the facts.

 

Depending on the situation, people fluctuate (change) in how honest they are. For example, you may be more likely to lie about something if you don’t think there will be negative consequences. Or if the benefits you gain from being deceitful are more attractive than the negative consequences you may experience if caught out.

 

You may also be less likely to practice Honesty when you are not feeling okay, like when you are hungry, stressed, tired, or even exhausted. This is especially true when our minds are exhausted. This idea is that resisting temptation takes strength and self-control, like taking the easy way out and not being honest. If we are tired enough, we simply give in because we think it is easier.

 

Practicing Honesty can help you keep your integrity and reputation intact. People will know that you always try to be honest, and they will trust you because of that. You will also experience less stress and anxiety that may arise when you need to keep track of the lies you tell.

 

It is not always easy to be honest, though. In some cases, you may benefit more from lying than being honest. Like when you say that you haven’t seen the chocolate bar on the counter while it is safely hidden in your pocket.

 

At other times you may experience negative consequences because you are honest. For example, admitting that you messed up or made a mistake could mean someone upsetting you. Or you may miss out on an opportunity because you were honest about your abilities.

 

In situations like this, it takes courage to be honest. It also takes courage to be honest when you need to have difficult conversations with someone, like when you need to give them constructive criticism or bad news. In these cases, you may be conflicted between being honest and kind.

 

Remember, though, that in the long run, being honest is being kind in most cases. It allows the person to make informed decisions, learn, and grow. But, this is not true if what you are about to tell someone will cause them unnecessary harm. In these cases, telling them the truth may not hold any benefit for them, you, or the situation. At these times, you will need to decide whether you are lying by omission (to deceive the other person) or not disclosing all the information.

 

Different situations and things could motivate you to be honest (besides wanting to be a good human). You may be more honest with people you love, including your family or friends. You could also be honest because it is the right thing to do, and it would be wrong to be deceptive. Even more interestingly, when you are happy (instead of just neutral), you tend to be more honest.

 

On the other hand, people are more likely to be dishonest in particular situations. When they can justify being dishonest or distance themselves from their acts and convince themselves that what they are doing isn’t that bad, people will be less likely, to be honest. The interesting thing about being dishonest is that people sometimes forget that they were deceitful in a situation, like when they cheated in a game. Because they forget their dishonesty, they lie to themselves and start to believe that they are better at that activity than they are.

 

While Honesty is a virtue that most of us value in ourselves and others, you could also practice Honesty to protect your interests. For example, being honest to avoid a negative consequence. Some may argue that you should be honest for Honesty rather than to either get something out of it or avoid unwanted outcomes.

 

Things can get a bit messy when we start to look at what the truth is. That is because each of us has our own opinions and versions of reality and life based on our experiences. That means what may be true for one person may lie for someone else. Take superstitions, for example. Someone may believe that seeing a black cat brings bad luck. Just because this may not be true for someone else does not mean that that person lied. They simply spoke their truth. If they instead told you that black cats mean good luck or have no significance at all, they would be lying because they are not being true to their beliefs.

 

It is the moment when what you say or do is to deceive or mislead someone that your subjective truth turns into a lie. Then you are lying to yourself (even if you do this knowingly) and to the other person.

 

If you want to be more honest, you need to start with being honest with yourself. Specifically, it would help if you were truthful about your Honesty or lack thereof. By looking at your behavior and paying closer attention to your words, you can start to see when you are not being honest with yourself or others. Soon you will begin to focus on being more honest (instead of trying to catch yourself in a lie).

 

Being honest with yourself about everything, but also about yourself, will lead to more authenticity. You will show up more genuinely and won’t need to pretend that you are someone or something you are not. You tend to be more satisfied with your life when you are more authentic. You also tend to be happier – and we now know that happy people are more honest. This creates a cycle of more Honesty, which leads to being more authentic and happier, which leads to more Honesty…

 

When you start to pay attention to yourself, you may realize that there may be certain situations where you are less honest than others. These moments allow you to practice more Honesty when telling a lie or being deceitful would be easier.

 

You can also seek out people who seem to be good practitioners of Honesty. That is: look for people who are honest and who make being honest a priority. You could research famous people (past and present) who are known for their Honesty. You can also find people in your community and amongst your friends and family who practice Honesty. Spend time with these people and learn from them. In time you will become more comfortable with practicing Honesty. Eventually, it will come naturally to you.

 

It isn’t always easy to be honest, especially if you may lose out if you are. Still, it is an important virtue, and it takes practice, to be honest. In Megadolls, Honesty is represented by the color brown. You can practice Honesty while playing with Megadolls. Use them to explore different situations where you (or they) may be tempted to be dishonest and consider the consequences they may experience when they are being honest versus when they aren’t.

 

With Megadolls, may we all inspire, encourage kindness, experience creativity, and promote meaningful play with awareness and compassion for others.

 

References:

Honesty | American Scientist

Cognitive control increases Honesty in cheaters but cheating in those who are honest | PNAS

(PDF) Difficult Conversations: Navigating the Tension between Honesty and Benevolence (researchgate.net)

The virtue of Honesty requires more than just telling the truth | Psyche Ideas

Deloitte BrandVoice: Actions Companies Can Take To Become Climate Leaders (forbes.com)

Honesty, Accuracy and Never Mislead or Deceive (psu.edu)

Honesty - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

The virtue of Honesty requires more than just telling the truth | Psyche Ideas

Character: Honesty at Age 5 | Milestones | PBS KIDS for Parents

Frontiers | Positive Emotion and Honesty | Psychology (frontiersin.org)

GoodTherapy | Honesty

Honesty Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

The Difference Between Truth and Honesty (fs.blog)

We Need to Do More Research on Honesty - Scientific American

Research - Honesty Project (wfu.edu)

Publications & Presentations - Honesty Project (wfu.edu)

Why Be Honest If Honesty Doesn’t Pay (hbr.org)

Why Honesty Is Often Difficult | Psychology Today

Honesty | Character Strengths | VIA Institute (viacharacter.org)

Tips for Encouraging Honesty — Making Caring Common (harvard.edu)

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