“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.