noun truthfulness, candidness
Ask five people if they are honest people and I bet all five say yes. Chances are good, they all lied to you. But really, what does it mean to be an honest person? We all know the dictionary definition of honesty. It’s an easy word and the concept seems simple. But the reality of being a truly honest person is very different than how we as people actually behave.
Most people think lying is when someone fabricates a story that has no basis in reality. This usually happens when someone is trying to get out trouble, avoid hurting someone’s feelings or get something they want.
But I want you to dig deeper into what true honesty really means. To me, true honesty only comes when you’re willing to tell the truth, even when it doesn’t benefit you to do so. What does that mean? Our days are filled with questions. Ones we answer readily and without thought. What may surprise you, is how often many people answer simple questions with lies.
Studies show that adults tell approximate 1.65 lies per day. This is a low number. I challenge you to really think about what you consider to be dishonest. It is only a complete fabrication that you’re counting? Or do you consider misleading statements as well. What about deception by omission?
Why does this happen? Some people think it’s lack of integrity but I challenge that one. Many think “little white lies” don’t count. Things like telling a loved one they look great when they don’t or using other social niceties don’t register in their minds as deception. When we are taught as children to tell a grandparent how much we loved the birthday gift that we really hated, you can see how our social structure may skew the concept of what honesty is.
But, there is nothing in the definition that says, “Honesty is truthfulness except when it’s on a topic that doesn’t matter or when you’re trying to be nice”. I challenge you to keep a journal for a week and write down each little white lie, outright lie, and deception by ommision. Afterward, ask yourself if you are an honest person. I know for some, they don’t care if they are or not, to others, being honest is a huge part of how they identify themselves as a person.
None of us are perfect, especially myself. But true honesty is something I strive for every day. It’s never easy and I’ve had to face many tough situations, not knowing how they would turn out, in order to continue to call myself honest. And after those moments passed, staying true to my core values was a win. No matter the outcome.
Along with staying true to myself, it’s important to me to surround myself with people who share my values. My friends are those who give me the truth, even when it’s a truth I don’t want to hear.
What about you? Is this something that matters to you or is being nice more important?