Wikipedia defines honesty as a facet of moral character that connotes positive and virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, including straightforwardness of conduct, along with the absence of lying, cheating, theft, etc. Honesty also involves being trustworthy, loyal, fair, and sincere.
Part of honesty is what you say and how you act toward others. But another part of the definition of honesty is whether you treat yourself the same way. Being honest with yourself means you really know why you are acting in a certain way or whether what you tell yourself is true. This part of the definition of honesty includes when you are trying to convince yourself you didn’t really do something wrong, or it wasn’t that bad, even though you know it was.
Scientific studies have shown that violation of conscience, by going against one own value system has health and emotional repercussions. The following are some of the importance of honesty;
Honesty promotes good health. One of the most important benefit of being honest is good health. In 2012, Anita Kelly, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame, spent 10 weeks tracking the health of 110 adults. “When they told more lies, their health went down,” she has said. “And when they told the truth, it improved.” In fact, she found that people who told three fewer minor lies a week had four fewer mental health complaints and three fewer physical complaints.
Telling the truth can be very different from simply voicing our opinions and judgments. Yesterday while shopping, I was trying on clothes in the dressing room and I heard the woman next to me saying to her friend, “I’m just going to tell you the truth! That dress looks awful on you! I hate that color and the way it hangs!” The other woman said, “Really? I kind of like it, I feel good in it.” The woman was offering her friend an opinion that didn’t match what her friend was feeling. Opinions connect us to our thinking mind. They are quite often rooted in judgments, where as being truthful requires listening to our hearts. Real truth involves a level of compassion that can trump the negative effects of the brutal honesty we deliver to others in order to be real.
Honesty promotes authenticity. Honesty is a reflection of your own thoughts and feelings. If you want people to know who you really are, be honest in your self-expression.
Honesty fosters courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is doing what you know you want or need to do, despite your fear. It takes an immense amount of courage to say what you feel. It is often difficult and takes practice and patience, but he payoffs are enormous.
Honesty shows you care. Being honest with yourself and with others shows how much you really care. It also demonstrates self-respect and respect for others. A caring attitude makes people stop and think. Gentle honesty is also very attractive and appealing.
Honesty creates a circle of love. Honesty sets an example that invites others to imitate. When others respond with honesty, it can create more interpersonal closeness and authenticity. This often translates into love and can create an ongoing evolution of loving relationships.
Honesty shows maturity and self-acceptance. There can often be hurt and pain associated with honesty. A mature person conveys honest expression in a style that minimizes painful impact. When others are hurt, the mature, self-accepting person remains in the relationship to work through any pain experienced by the other person.
Honesty fosters a connection. Honesty can bring people closer by creating a safe connection. It forms a context for the relationship within which both parties feel secure enough to be genuine in their interactions. Such a relationship can invite and empower each party to work through some highly personal issues.
Honesty feels exhilarating because it is so freeing. Being authentic and saying what you feel and think feels great! By doing so, you break free of the limitations of fear.
Honesty eliminates garbage. Hiding true feelings or withholding information creates emotional garbage. This is known as gunnysacking , which requires a lot of self-defeating energy. Being honest from the beginning of any interaction prevents the build-up of emotional garbage and cleans out your emotional gunnysack.
Honesty attracts honesty. If honesty becomes an unconscious habit, you will become very attractive to other honest people. A life filled with authentic people is vastly enriched.
Honesty can keep you out of trouble. We all know how you can dig yourself deeper into a hole with lies and deceit. So from the start, don’t even go there. Keep a clean slate by staying honest, especially when you fear the anticipated consequences.