The Sheer Joy and Magic of IntegrityFor me, there is sheer JOY and Magic in integrity. If you want a magical life then one area to look at, consider, assess and work on is integrity. From my point of view, operating with high integrity is a requirement to having a life that you LOVE. That is not a fact – just my opinion although given the plethora of books and research on integrity I would say there’s some backing to my stance. Integrity is defined as (1) the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; (2) the state of being whole and undivided. Integrity is often thought of as honesty, truthfulness, authenticity, reliably the same regardless of the circumstances (or usually), trustworthy, consistent or consistency of actions, and moral courage. It takes something to operate with high integrity and I assert that the benefits are well worth the effort. If you are on the journey with me to having a LIFE that you LOVE then you recognize that personal growth and development are key components to arriving there. How accurately can you assess yourself on this subject? How accurately can you assess yourself in general? We rarely see ourselves as others see us, which means that you could get considerable value by enlisting the help of trusted friends or confidants to help in your assessment. Engage in a conversation for your own benefit – am I reliable? Am I trustworthy? Do I do what I say I will do? You could actually have some fun with this – and I recommend that you do have fun with this. Why not? What is the worst thing that you could learn? That you have little or no integrity and people don’t trust you? Or you could find out the little thing that you do, and perhaps were not aware of, that would make all the difference in the world. What operating with high integrity looks like in real life is keeping your promises, doing what you said you would do, telling the truth, not gossiping, knowing and believing that what you say and do matters, treating others the way that you would like to be treated, having compassion for yourself and others, and reliably being the same person with everyone in your life. It takes courage. It takes being brave, feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, vulnerable, disappointing people and being judged. And maybe every once in a while, making an ass out of yourself. For certain, it takes being honest with yourself, which can be really hard sometimes. Tall order? Maybe. Or maybe it could be the most freeing, peaceful and powerful way to operate your life. At the risk of being vulnerable and of giving you the opportunity for a good laugh at my expense – I will share an example of integrity from my life. A high school yearbook co-editor and I used to go to my house after school to work on our yearbook pages because it was convenient and probably because my Mom fed us dinner and snacks. In the process of doing the yearbook pages at my house, several supplies were stored at my house. A stapler belonging to the high school ended up in my dorm room at college, which bothered me, yet I kept forgetting to pack it up and take it home to return it to the high school. For more than 35 years that stapler moved everywhere I moved and I thought about returning the stapler too many times to count. When I moved back to my home town and unpacked the stapler yet again I knew that it was time to reclaim my integrity and I seized the opportunity to return the stapler even though I was incredibly embarrassed about the fact that so much time had elapsed. I knew that the high school probably would not care yet it was important to me as a matter of my own integrity. At that time one of my kids was doing yearbook at my old high school, so I gave the stapler with a little card attached explaining the journey that the stapler had taken to my child so it could be returned “home”. I felt quite relieved and incredibly embarrassed about the lapsed time. The two journalism advisors got quite a kick out of the returned stapler and the journey it had taken. I heard a rumor that the stapler and card was given a special place in the new journalism room when the new school building opened. I don’t know if that is true or not. Although this story could be fact checked. Ha-ha. Not kidding though. Here is my own personal view of the benefits of operating with high integrity. My list might not match up with other lists or what the authors of books state or even therapists say, but this is what I believe are the top 10 benefits for having high integrity.
10 Benefits of High Integrity
- Trustworthy – If you want to win friends and influence people then being viewed as trustworthy is critical. No one wants to be friends or even work with people that they can’t or don’t trust. Trust is crucial to healthy relationships. When you keep your promises and do what you say you will do that helps build trust.
- Reliability – Operating with high integrity helps you be viewed as a reliable person after all you can be counted on to do what you say you will do, show up when you have promised to show up (or communicate that you can’t keep your promise). We all want to have reliable people in our lives so this is a good thing.
- Build Connections – In a world where loneliness and social isolation continues to grow, operating with high integrity helps you build connections – social connections – because people gravitate to people that are trustworthy and reliable. Loneliness and social isolation increase premature death by up to 50% making it a bigger threat than obesity according to two meta-analyses from Brigham Young University (see my post titled 8 Ways to Improve Your Health & Look Younger for more details on this), so building connections helps you be healthier than not having connections.
- Builds Relatedness – Once you have a connection with a person, having and operating with high integrity helps to build the feeling of relatedness, which is a critical stage prior to a relationship forming.
- Builds Relationships – Having high integrity contributes in a very positive and healthy way to any relationships you have or will have in the future.
- Builds Courage – Sometimes operating with high integrity takes courage and being vulnerable so over time the continued practice of saying and doing the hard things will build courage.
- Builds Self-Esteem – When you practice doing what you said you would do, telling the truth, being authentic, not gossiping, and the other components of operating with high integrity you will naturally feel better about yourself.
- Builds Character – Every time you do the right thing, even when no one is watching or will know, it builds character. Operating with high integrity helps you build character day after day.
- Brings Inner Peace – When you operate with high integrity you will not feel conflicted, you will not feel bad, you will have the inner peace of knowing that you did the right thing, you are trustworthy and reliable.
- Adds LOVE – I assert that the higher your integrity the more LOVE you will have in your life. Trust is the foundation of healthy relationships and you simply can’t have trust if you operate outside the bounds of integrity.
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