Why Honesty is the Best Policy for Simplicity

“No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.” -Abraham Lincoln

A life of simplicity can be defined as a life that has removed all of the nonessentials. It is marked by oneness. It is uncomplicated. As a result, it is freeing. It allows our lives to be focused on the things that are most important to us.

Simplicity in life cannot be achieved without honesty. Honesty can live without simplicity, but simplicity cannot live without honesty. Consider the fact that every time we are not truthful, we create an alternate reality. And subsequently, we are forced to live a life in both worlds: the true one and the one we’ve created. On the other hand, when we choose honesty in all aspects of life including our marriage, our business, and our relationships, we live the same life wherever we are. Honesty leads to simplicity, but dishonesty leads to duplicity – the exact opposite.

Consider the other benefits of a honest lifestyle:

  • Closer friendships. Honesty and integrity pave the way for greater intimacy. Your friends love the “true you,” not the one you’ve artificially created.
  • Higher quality friends. Honesty attracts honesty. People who are trustworthy and honest attract trustworthy and honest friends. And those are the best friends to have.
  • Trust. Honest people are trusted by others.
  • Confidence. Honest people trust themselves. Never underestimate the life-changing power of the ability to trust yourself.
  • Wellness – Honesty has been linked to less colds, less fatigue, less depression, and less anxiety.
  • Less stress – Dishonesty needs to be maintained. Pretending to be something you are not requires constant attention to detail, even for the most experienced. Honest people are better able to relax because they are just being themselves and naturally, feel better about themselves and less overwhelmed.

Unfortunately, early in our life we learn that dishonesty can have incredible short-term benefits. It can get us out of trouble. It can get us what we want. It can make it easier to please the people around us. And all of us develop the habit (albeit, to varying degrees.).

Living an honest life takes effort – especially at the beginning. It requires a decision to pursue it and some action steps to get it started. But once it begins to gain momentum in your life and you begin to realize its many benefits, honesty will become easier and easier.

To get started, consider some of these essential truths to living an honest life:

  • Character, integrity, and morality in your life make honesty easier. When you choose to live a life of character, you will soon realize that you have nothing to hide… and honesty is a much easier path if you don’t have anything to hide. There are countless aspects to this point that pertain to our spouses, our children, our bosses, and friends. Pursue integrity in all of them.
  • Consider the long-term consequences of a short-term gain. As I mentioned, one of the reasons that we begin living dishonestly in the first place is that the short-term gains seem obvious. Unfortunately, these short-term gains have long-term consequences. We would be wise to consider them and count the whole cost of our decisions.
  • Living an honest life on the outside requires you to live an honest life on the inside. If you are going to be completely honest with others, you’ve got to be completely honest with yourself. If we have hurts in our lives that we have been denying, we need to acknowledge them, admit them, and address them.
  • Sometimes, it’s the 2 and 3 letter words that can be the toughest. When the answer is yes, say “yes.” When the answer is no, say “no.” Be dependable. Follow through on your commitments. And don’t commit to anything that you don’t intend to complete.
  • Being honest is not the same as saying everything we think. Just because something is true does not mean that it has to be said. One of the tougher points of living an honest life is knowing when to avoid conflict, when to address conflict, and when to create conflict. Learn the difference. And learn from your mistakes on this one.
  • Use honesty to encourage, not criticize. Honesty is a powerful tool and like most tools, it can be used for good or evil. It can be used to build others up or it can be used to tear others down. While the tone of your words plays a huge role in determining the difference, your motivation plays an even bigger role. Use your words to genuinely build others up, not tear them down. The same truth spoken in a different way with a different motivation can have completely different results.

Honesty is not just the best policy for simplicity, it is the only policy. True simplicity is unattainable without it. And that’s the truth.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Hi Joshua, thanks for the wonderful insight. I love that you are highlighting simplicity in family life! We too are a minimalist family in the making. We moved from the country to the city a year ago to look for more opportunity but find the imbalance too insane. We are moving back to a more restful place soon!
    Heidi Howes

  2. says

    Great post! Your explanations of how honesty really works in synergy with simplicity was well thought and well written. I myself have been, as of recently, really contemplating just how important honesty is to living a simplistic uncluttered life. I agree, it is extremely important, and its impact is far reaching on nearly every facet of your life. Once again, great post.

    – Jason

  3. Chris_from_France says

    Hi !

    I discovered your blog a few days ago, and every post I read makes me feel beter and enthousiast.

    Your thoughs are very inspiring to me, thanks a lot !

    Chris, a french man lost on the internet.

  4. says

    I think I am going to have my kids read this as this is such a key point to becoming a great adult. I know far too many people that are dishonest in small areas of their lives and I then lose all credibility for them. And as someone said in the earlier comments “Amen”.

  5. SAM says

    Joshua,I am highly delighted to read your blog.I do n’t know how many people now value honesty by heart.But honesty and simplicity not only great virtue but equilly beneficial for humanity.

  6. Ashley C. says

    Great post! Honesty is key when it comes to living a peacful and happy life. I also like that you listed the last two points, which are often forgotten when people write on the topic of honesty. It is important to remember that one can be honest while still being sensitive to other’s feelings at the same time. Like our mother’s told us “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. I love your blog, it has really inspired me to pursue a minimalist lifestyle. Keep up the great work!

    -Ashley C.

  7. says

    What a great read. The point you make about the complexity of living in two worlds as a result of dishonesty is particularly compelling. This makes me look at lies and dishonesty the same way I look at clutter, as something to get rid of and make sure it doesn’t accumulate again. Cheers.

  8. says

    “One of the tougher points of living an honest life is knowing when to avoid conflict, when to address conflict, and when to create conflict. Learn the difference. And learn from your mistakes on this one.”
    Said beautifully. Thank you.

  9. MG says

    Just discovered your blog and I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE what I just read. Very inspiring…BTW….this is my first time EVER leaving comments…usually I just read and move on, but in this case I really had to say something. Thank you!

  10. farshad says

    Given the “simplicity brings honesty” and the “duplicity of false” should simply be proud of.Dear professor Mr. Kazem ALILOU Thank you very much
    Thank you and I love this informative site

  11. lissa says

    Thanks this helped me for a a social health project thx really :)!!!
    ps: your pic name is truth but nice pic cause of your beautiful eyes

  12. Cassie says

    This sounds off topic, but the girl in the picture, do you know who she is? She looks exactly like a friend of mine.

  13. says

    My partner and I have been working toward a minimalist lifestyle, and your blog has been very helpful and enlightening. Thank you for sharing your thoughtful, wise ideas. This post on honesty is my favorite so far.

  14. mav says

    Thank you Joshua for putting my thoughts into words. I appreciate you greatly for your writing and the ideology that you have portrayed to others. My husband and I support and spread minimalistic thinking and have joined The Minimalists.

  15. Hilda says

    Thank you Joshua I admired your words, hope the whole world can read your post. every single thought is a gold.

    I ove it, learn it and practice it.

  16. alpio jr. says

    I discover something new about honesty. It is wonderfully described including its horizon and its perimeter. Thanks

  17. says

    The Chinese government has often placed blame for past violence in Xinjiang on militant groups seeking independence, especially the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. But advocates of Uighur self-determination say the violence is often a spontaneous local response to mass detentions and other harsh policing methods.

  18. says

    Wonderful article. People should learn to be confident and honest in what they believe. It is true that staying honest can get you long time faithful friends who will be your greatest asset in your life. Being honest can bring long term benefits that you may not be able to, by being dishonest.

  19. di says

    Everyone portrays varying degrees of honesty and some version of the truth. A true person is rare to find.

    Trustworthy people also attract those that are not trustworthy. May their example be inspirational to others…

    When you speak the truth, you cleanse your soul.

    It is better to admit to a bad behavior. The consequence is yours to bear for a reason.

    I rarely trust anyone other than myself. You know who you are.

    The benefits of honesty far outweigh the consequence of dishonesty.

    All will be revealed over time.

    One lie usually leads to another.

    To be honest, you must voice your opinion – whether or not others agree.

    If you cannot commit, explain why.

    Most people do want to hear the truth.

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