When I hear people talk about their values, I notice that they use a wide variety of words. Honesty, hard work, loyalty, and open-mindedness are all values that people I know strive for. But one value seems to always rise to the top: integrity. It’s a value that is unassailable yet losing ground in modern society. Ironically, some still uphold integrity as a core value while acting against it in all their words and deeds. A lack of integrity is not only accepted but also sought after and celebrated—from behind a veil of denial. I thought it would be interesting to dive in and deconstruct the word, the value, and the way it’s expressed. Before researching the word, I thought about what it means to me. In my mind, it suggests a quality of “honesty plus”—honesty at one’s core.
We all have people in our lives who seemingly know how to push our buttons—they are somehow able to get under our skin and threaten our peace and happiness. There may also be circumstances that invariably make us tense or irritable. Rather than denying that this is happening or resigning ourselves to these unpleasant feelings, we can use a variety of tools and perspectives to help us identify these conditions and address them. We can also make ourselves less susceptible to being impacted by these conditions. We can build a foundation of serenity through practices that stabilize our emotional reactions and make us aware of how we interact with the world. We can also be proactive about the elements in our lives to which we consistently have negative reactions. Finally, we can look inside ourselves and try to truly understand why we react the way we do and use that knowledge to mitigate our negative emotions.
I am a liar.
I’ve been one my whole life. It hasn’t gotten me into trouble or hurt anyone, but I feel like it has hurt me. I probably don’t lie any more than most, but I’m uncomfortable with the amount of lying I do. Some of my lying is “good lying,” and some is bad. Some of my lying is adiaphorous (or so I tell myself), but I don’t think any lying sits squarely on the fence. Even if it isn’t harmful to others, it makes me more comfortable with lying. I mainly lie for convenience; it’s rarely malevolent. That doesn’t mean it’s not bad; it just means it’s not significantly harmful—or so I tell myself. Lots of my lies are lies of omission, and most of those lies are good lies; they spare someone’s feelings or make a process move along more quickly. They are instances when telling the truth would serve no useful purpose or would do harm. But some instances involve keeping secrets related to an inconvenient or embarrassing truth. Most of these secrets are harmless—or so I tell myself.
Life is full of ups and downs. They are what make it interesting, exciting, and fulfilling. In order to get to the high points—the victories, the triumphs, the loves—we all have to risk, and ultimately experience, the low points. And it’s in those low points that we truly learn what we are made of.
When we go through our lows—whatever their cause and however they manifest—it’s natural to want to get through them as quickly as possible, to snap out of it and pretend they never happened.
Not only does that not work—we can’t ignore unpleasant emotions any more than we can ignore a broken arm—it also denies us the opportunity to gain insights into what makes us tick and get to the heart of who we are.
“I wish things could go back to the way they were…”How often have you experienced a life-changing event and wished you could go back to the way it was before? Do you wish that certain things would remain the way they are forever?There are a lot of reasons why people desire stability—they want their families to stay alive and stay healthy, they want to be comfortable financially, they want to be happy—we constantly take steps to give our lives a sense of permanence. We buy a house, save money, buy insurance, and in other ways try to guard the lives to which we’ve become accustomed.