Each month, my wife and I put up a word on the blackboard in our kitchen and call it the word of the month. We have had words like abundance, gratitude, communication; words that express our aspirations. This month we chose INTEGRITY and Whew! It has been an interesting month. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that lots of interesting puzzles and challenges have come up for us to solve. I like to think of myself as someone who has integrity. I strive to do what I say I am going to do. I treat people honestly and fairly; the way I want to be treated. This doesn’t mean I don’t have flare-ups of anger on the freeway and want to…well let’s just say yell at people. Or if I don’t have a good interaction with a service person I might get a little snarky…ok, a lot snarky. Yes, those are shortcomings and places where I don’t act within my own integrity. But I am talking about much more than that because integrity is a much bigger conversation than that. A Google search gives us two definitions to ponder:
- The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, etc.
- The state of being whole and undivided.
I’d like to use the second one as it is closer to what I think of as integrity. In fact, I like to use the definition: the state of being whole and complete. That complete word gives a whole different level of meaning to me. The first definition falls short for me because it focuses on moral principles which I believe are different for different people AND there is a ring of righteousness about it. I see school teachers wrapping knuckles for kids who squirm in class and this makes me more than a little uncomfortable.
No, I think definition 2 is the one that is stirring up stuff around our house this month. Take a minute and say these words; the state of being whole and complete. What does that bring up for you? Are you saving enough? Are you getting enough exercise? Are you eating the right food? Oh, and it gets worse. If you dwell on this word for a month, things like am I in the right career? Should I have become a dancer? A race car driver? Dedicated my life to public service? Am I doing enough? I am getting a little off track here but, I am going to suggest that we came into this world whole and complete. We drift away from that wholeness. Just a little here and there and the next thing you know we are in a relationship that doesn’t fulfill us or at a job that we don’t enjoy. Not saying I did any of those things but you may use them as examples.
How can you apply this? What difference does it make? A wise friend of mine once said, “the source of all suffering is out integrity.” This has stuck with me for over 30 years. My initial reaction was to find ways they were wrong, as in finding places where suffering existed that had nothing to do with integrity. However, this is not as good an exercise as asking yourself, “Where am I suffering?”, and looking to see what is out of your integrity. Ok, suffering may be too strong a word. Use your words here. Where am I not happy with the results in my life and what is “out”? I use that word in a weird way here to say; where am I not living up to my values, what is important to me, the beliefs I hold dear, and what can I do about it right now? I am going to leave it here as this is the place where I usually go off on some tangent about how I think you can live a better life AND I assert you and only you know how to live a better life.
There is lots out there about integrity and if you are interested I encourage you to explore. But be careful, much of what is out there will be definition 1 stuff and I think you want the definition 2 stuff. Check out the Way of the Peaceful Warrior It is on Amazon here or on the author’s website here. By the way, I believe the quote about integrity is Dan Milliman’s, the author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior and other books.
Good luck! And have a great month!
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