“Live your life with integrity… Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” – Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

bald-eagle-eagle-raptor-beak-45210When it seems like all the world is engaged in lies and deceit, it can be tough to hold onto your integrity. Yet, this is so crucial to living life in harmony and balance that it bears reconsidering the effort it takes to do so.

What is integrity?

Integrity is:

  • Living your life in accordance with an internal set of beliefs.
  • You value honesty, so you will not tolerate a lie and do not lie just to make a situation easier or to avoid scrutiny or escape additional work.
  • You believe in putting forth your best effort, so you refuse to cut corners, to skip necessary items, to push off to others what is your responsibility.
  • You pride yourself on your compassion, so you will not just stand by silently as others assail the less fortunate, calling them lazy or incompetent or stupid.
  • You feel bound to act when you see injustice, to speak when others won’t, to stand up for your beliefs by living them.

Easy to say, not so easy to do

This all may sound easy enough. However, it isn’t always easy to live with integrity. At times, everyone is tempted to take the easy way out, to compromise their beliefs, to give lie to their values. While this may help in the short turn, it does nothing for your humanity. Each time you avert your eyes and walk away from your integrity, it chips away at your spirit. There is a cumulative effect of this negativity, of this denying of your true self. You may think you’ve escaped unscathed, but you really haven’t.

How to live a life of integrity

If you want to learn how to live life with integrity, try this: Start with something small.

Take an activity you do regularly and examine how you can do your best at it. For example, if you look forward to stopping off at a local coffee house to get your morning latte or cappuccino and quickly hurry to your car to be on your way, imagine yourself being on a deserted island with an espresso machine and no human being to keep you company or exchange pleasantries with. As a social animal, wouldn’t you do almost anything to hear and reciprocate a few kind words? Now, since you have the opportunity – and it only takes a few seconds – say hello and smile to the person next to you in line. Say something kind to the barista or cashier. This small act can reap many rewards. For one thing, you’re bringing a bit of yourself into the situation, sharing your humanity, being real. You may inspire someone else to do the same, like paying it forward. It also makes you feel good. Everyone wins.

The hard part about living in integrity is not suffering the lie, but doing something about it. Take the example of someone gossiping or bad-mouthing a co-worker, boss, or someone you know in your presence. Should you remain silent about these negative comments? Should you defend the individual? How should you handle this situation with integrity?

It’s too easy to say it depends, but the truth is that you know, deep inside, what you need to do. You can’t just say or do nothing, not if you intend to live with integrity. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Put a stop to it by saying that there’s work to be done and this is no time to engage in pettiness.
  • Praise the maligned individual’s good traits or stand up for your friend.
  • You can also walk away — but this is better done after you’ve made your point about not being willing to listen to such negativity about a person you both know.

Maybe you’ll be ostracized by this bad-talker. Maybe you’ll be the next recipient of his or her vitriolic comments. Maybe, but you will be living in integrity. You will be living in accordance with your beliefs and values and living with authenticity. And that trumps negativity every time.