Why Bother With Integrity?
Living honestly, sincerely, and conscientiously with myself and others is a lifelong endeavor. Along the pathway of life we oftentimes adopt attitudes and actions that are contrary to our basic moral principles. When we do, then it takes time and effort to reflect on how to realign ourselves once again with our core values.
Sometimes we may need to schedule a chunk of time to get away by ourselves for a day or two and ruminate on the choices we’ve made and where they have taken us. Other times, when we’ve lost clarity and seem to be moving through a dense fog in the wrong direction, making an appointment with a counselor can be helpful.
But, what if we were to examine our moral fiber on a daily basis? What if we reflected daily on our attitudes and actions? Is it possible to make a regular and daily practice of considering our words and actions toward others? I think so. Much like the benefits of eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s rest, we could make a habit of considering our thoughts and actions and reap the benefits of such a practice.
Knowing ourselves is key to knowing when we are thinking or acting off kilter. Recognizing the warning signs and giving them our attention is paramount to staying true to our morals. How do I know when I am saying something contrary to my beliefs? Do I feel uncomfortable? And if so, do I press forward and move on anyway? Do I deny the little niggle in my brain or do I actually acknowledge it?
When I’ve said something inappropriate, overstepped a boundary, ignored a need or just plain cared less when I should have cared more, I know it. I get a sense of discomfort, a feeling of embarrassment or remorse. Though I can’t take back my words, I can be grateful that awareness is the first step to changing my ways.
Becoming aware of our patterns—when I am stressed I feel anger, when I am tired I feel hopeless, or when I am afraid I lose my ability to speak—is helpful. Being mindful makes us more aware and being aware keeps us aligned to living morally.
Like other healthy habits, living in sync with our values pays off. We are more competent, less wishy-washy and happier with ourselves. We are more coherent and can consider others by offering them a hand up or an encouraging word. Our perspective is broader and we can see farther than just the end of our own nose.
Why bother with integrity? Keeping ourselves aligned to our core values is part of living well. And everyone benefits from living well.