The Union Path Podcast
"Living a High Integrity Life"
Full Episode Transcript:
You know what's a really good life hack? You know what's perhaps the ultimate life hack being the truth, being honest, living with integrity? And it's funny, these ideas, these words honesty, integrity, doing the right thing can get a little charged, can get a little complicated, can make us feel a little squirmy. Because I think inherent in these ideas, at least the way that they're perpetuated and expressed through our culture, is through a lens of judgment, is through a lens of criticism, is through a lens of holding ourselves or another up to a standard and finding all the ways in which we fall short, identifying and magnifying shortcomings. But just because this is the way we normally do things, or just because this is the normal thing to do, doesn't mean we have to do it this way.
Because when it comes to something like the truth, when it comes to something like integrity, one of the ideas that I ponder frequently and seems to get a deeper and richer meaning every year, is the idea of the truth sets us free, that the freedom we seek, that what we really want, that, underneath all of our desires, all of our wants, all of our appetites, the main thing we want is to be free. The main thing we want is to feel free, feel free to be ourselves, feel free to express ourselves, feel free to receive what we want. To receive, then, incumbent on getting what we want, we must be free to receive what we want In order to contribute what we want. We must feel free to express what we want, and one of the things I feel like I talk about frequently, is how handy and useful and vital the truth is.
The truth, unlike anything else, has a unique ability to lead. It's an incredibly powerful way to cut through confusion, cut through doubt, because we can always get to what's the truth, we can always endeavor after what's really true, and the more we base our life on the truth, on what's true, on what's real, the better our lives tend to go. This helps us in our relationships, too. The more honest we are, the more integrity that we live with and express, the better our relationships are, the higher quality our relationships are, the deeper our relationships get, the more real, durable our relationships become, and the truth can be really handy in learning about another, being able to observe and be aware and know how others really are, because nothing will tell us that someone else is dysfunctional than if they punish us for telling the truth.
Nothing will tell us faster that a system or a group that we're involved with is dysfunctional than if there are punishments. If the truth is de-incentivized, if the way to get ahead, the way to get forward, the way to get what we want, is somehow obfuscating or denying the truth, then ultimately that's not a situation we actually really want to be involved in. No one wants to live a lie. No one feels good lying, and sure we may feel like we get away with something and there's an initial hit of excitement that, ooh, I just got over on something or someone. Ooh, I just got something that maybe I shouldn't have. There's a little tingle to it. There's a little sparkle to it that's exciting, that's interesting, but that's not really sustaining Because after that initial hit wears off and we sit with our own behavior, we sit with our own decisions. We know how that feels.
We know how it feels to be dishonest. We know how it feels to be deceitful. We know how it feels to lie. We know how it feels to manipulate. We know how it feels to trick, because, at the very least, we know that we don't want to experience these things. We don't want to be lied to, we don't want to be tricked, we don't want to be manipulated, we don't want to have the truth hidden from us.
We don't want to have the wool pulled over our own eyes. So it's kind of funny when we think that we can get what we want by pulling the wool over others. That's just one of those ideas that seems to fail with even the tiniest bit of scrutiny that we can get what we want for doing things we wouldn't want. That in and of itself cancels itself out. That negates the gain. I think we've all experienced that any gains that we get when we have an attitude of any means necessary that we will do whatever it takes, we will cross anyone else. We will step on as many throats as we have to to get ahead and get what we want. Is that what we actually want? Does that actually feel good? And of course not. No one would choose that, given all available options. The reason why we choose this is we feel like we have another choice, we've been painted into a corner or we've decided that this is the quickest, most efficient, easiest way to get what we want. So it just makes sense on a logical level to take a shortcut, like a lot of shortcuts that we don't really pay attention to, that we don't really evaluate after we've taken them, can actually end up taking us the long way around Can actually end up locking us into circles, into cycles, into doing the same thing over and over and over again, that we can become subject to our own behavior, to our own patterns of behavior, and thus we're not really free. Because when we're deceptive, when we're lying, when we're manipulating, that behavior has to be maintained. That behavior does not maintain itself. It takes effort, it takes continuing these behaviors to maintain, because there's no actual structure to it, there's no actual center to it, it's all superficial, it's all on the outside, it's all appearance and since it doesn't have a core of its own, it doesn't have a strong base of its own, it has to be maintained through effort that it isn't real, so it isn't sustained by reality. We have to sustain it by attempting to erect and perpetuate a false reality, because in kind of a funny way we can make our lives so much easier by just being honest.
But just telling the truth is not really that complicated and oftentimes it's not really as hard as we think it is. But especially if we've grown up in a dysfunctional family system where we were punished for telling the truth, it can feel like the truth is dangerous. The truth can't really be trusted. We have to use our wit and our guile to get through life. We have to be crafty, we have to be clever, and that's what actually supports and sustains us. But does it or does that just create the need for more guile, more cleverness? Does that create the problem it attempts to solve?
Because one of the funny things about telling the truth is that it's so much easier because we don't have to remember what we said. We don't have to remember what story we constructed, we don't have to remember what manipulation we're carrying out. We don't really have to think that much. We just say how things are and then move on. We can save our thinking, we can save our effort, we can save our energy for other things. We don't have to spend an inordinate amount of our energy and our life force and our awareness on maintaining and perpetuating the untrue. We can live in the truth and use our energy elsewhere, and we can renegotiate our relationship with the truth.
But instead of using ideas like the truth, ideas like integrity in judgment, we can use them as feedback. We can use them to help to sculpt and shape our life. We can use them as opportunities to grow. There's two ways to look at a mistake. We can look at it as a failure. We can look at it as a commentary on ourselves, when what's wrong with us and how we've fallen short. Or we can look at it as an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to grow and change. And only one of those perspectives has a future, because we can't berate or shame ourselves into being the full version of ourselves. We can't punish ourselves into being the ideal version of ourselves. We have to align with the ideal version of ourselves and then strive after it, attempt to be it and when we fall short, seize those opportunities to learn and grow and try again Working to stay out of the judgment, stay out of the condemnation and focus on growth, focus on being better, focus on being the ideal that we want to be, that we know we actually are, that we know we can be, because so many times these judgments, especially self-judgments, just get in the way, just slow our progress, just keep us chained to a past that we'd really rather stop living.
That's so often. We want to move into the future with a clean slate. We want to remove the influence, the undue influence, of the past. We don't want to keep perpetuating patterns that we'd rather change. We want to bring something new into our life, we want to live a new experience. In order to create room, to create space for that new experience, we have to let the past go, we have to find closure, we have to find a way to release it. Otherwise we set ourselves up to recreate it, to perpetuate it and telling the truth and living the truth and living a high integrity.
Life isn't as hard as it sounds. It's actually our natural state. We introduce the artificial when we lie, when we deceive, when we manipulate either others or ourselves. We construct a false reality that can be so effortful to live and maintain. Because it's false, because we not only have to erect it, we have to hold it up, because it has no structure of its own. It only exists and perpetuates through our own maintenance versus. The truth exists and perpetuates on its own. It doesn't actually need us to do anything. The truth will always be true, whether we acknowledge it or not, and it's our choice.
But it's been my experience that life has made so much better. It's made automatically better by telling the truth, by living the truth, by living through high integrity, living with and through high integrity. And it isn't made better because of others, because of getting credit, because of being seen as a good person. It's made better because the energy is different. It's made better because I can actually have an authentic sense of self-pride that doesn't need to involve anyone else, that I can know the truth about myself. I can look at the truth of myself and be satisfied, appreciate who and what I really am and appreciate the person I'm being Genuinely. I don't have to talk myself into it, I don't have to deceive myself, I don't have to cast illusions, I don't have to rationalize, I don't have to condition reality. The truth is the truth. Its value is inherent. Its existence is self-evident. It either is or it isn't. It's not an argument, it's not something I have to convince myself of, it just is. And the value and the beauty and the peace and the reward of living a high integrity life is inherent. We don't need anyone or anyone else to do anything. A high integrity life is better because it feels better, full stop. That's it. That's enough. High integrity life is better because it's easier. That's enough. High integrity life is better because it feels like who and what we really are, and that's enough, Especially if you've spent a long time trying to fabricate and perpetuate illusion.
We tend to get pretty weary. That tends to be exhausting. We tend to run out of gas eventually. We tend to get burned out eventually Because there's really no there there. There's no substance there, there's no nutrition there, it's just empty calories, it's just junk food. It's not what we really want.
And the unfortunate thing, or perhaps the fortunate thing, is that we can't find our way to truth through deception. We can't lie our way to honesty. We can't deceive our way to integrity. We find integrity and honesty and truth by living with integrity, Living with honesty, by telling the truth, by honoring the truth, by being aware of the truth, by acknowledging the truth. We choose the truth as our focus, as our basis point, as our ground state, and then we live from that. And when we do, life gets so much less confusing, how much less complicated, because we're not lost in the machinery of our own creation, we're connected to what's real. We get into a state where we can be just be a lot more of the time. We don't have to be thinking and thinking and thinking about how to perpetuate this false reality that we've constructed, worried that we've built a house of cards If one thing happens, this whole thing falls down versus if we build a life on the truth.
It's a far more secure and durable foundation. It's a far more robust and resilient structure than a lot of ways living our life based on falsity, based on illusion, based on manipulation, based on trickery. It's like building a house of rotten logs. Sure, we may complete the house and it may be shelter for some time, but those rotten logs will come calling. That will have to be maintained. Our structure will always be trying to fall down around us because it's not real. That really seems like life itself is a bit of an abhorrent relationship with falsity, with illusion, with manipulation, with lies, with the untrue, with the false. But the structure will fall eventually. That is completely manmade and that's eventually. It will decay to nothing. Nothing manmade endures forever. Everything made by man will go away, everything will erode, will be removed eventually.
And the beauty is we get to choose. We get to choose how we value the truth. We get to choose how we honor the truth. We get to choose how we listen. We get to choose what we pay attention to. We get to choose what we act on.
And yes, hearing the truth requires openness. Listening to the truth requires receptivity. Hearing the truth requires courage, because so many of us fall into the trap of living a lie just because it seems easier, seems more normal. We don't have to stand out, we don't have to create conflict, we don't have to go against the grain. We can make our path easier by just going with what we witness around us. But that ease will never really be fulfilling, we'll never really give back to us in the way that we want, because it isn't actually real. And we see this in our relationships too. When we start a relationship from a place of dishonesty, that will never ultimately be satisfying. And the only chance it has to ever be satisfying is if it reconnects and reorients around the truth, because if it doesn't, it will demolish itself, it will eat itself.
So we live a life of truth. We live a life of high integrity, not because of anything we're going to get, not because of how we're going to be seen or valued by anyone else. That's that we can hold ourselves up as some prime specimen of the human species for everyone else to celebrate. We do it because, ultimately, that's who we are. We'll never be able to fully connect with ourselves, we'll never be able to really encounter and experience and express the full version of ourselves. Unless we do it in truth, that until we're willing to see the truth and honor the truth, our way will be blocked, our expression will be corked.
And again, this isn't about moralizing, this isn't about judgment. This is about living a good life, living a life that feels good to us, living a life that's nourishing and enriching to us. And we find that through the truth. We also make our way much easier by telling and living the truth, because it keeps falsity, it keeps illusion, it keeps manipulation out of our life, both in creating this for others and receiving it from others, because we tend to get back what we choose to contribute. There's a balance there, there's a symmetry there, there's a congruence there. Our lives are a mirror to the energy we put into it.
And if, ultimately, what we want is freedom, if, ultimately, what we want is peace, if, ultimately, what we want is to feel connected and nourished and sustained by our own life, we find this in the truth, through living the truth, through living with high integrity, not because it makes us better than anyone else. This isn't about comparison, this isn't about elevating ourselves above others, and this isn't about diminishing other people. Compared to us as well, we release the comparison because it's not about anyone or anything else. This is about us, this is personal, this is our life, and our life is lived through ourselves, not in comparison to anyone or anything else. And we live our best life by connecting with who and what we really are. We live our best life by connecting to what we really want, truly, deeply on the inside. We live our best life by connecting with, acknowledging and expressing the truth, by living the truth, by living with high integrity, by being high integrity Just because it's demonstrably better, no other reason. Not that we can feel special, not that we can feel good, not that we're going to get some sort of reward or trophy or anything else. We do it because it is demonstrably better.
The experience of life lived in truth is inherently better, is inherently what we really want, because living in the truth is freedom. The lies that we tell and the lies that we live find us, hold us captive, make us slaves to the lies themselves. We liberate ourselves by telling the truth. We free ourselves by living the truth, not to feel like we're better, not to feel like we're special, because the truth is grounding. The truth is fundamental. It isn't exceptional or special. It's actually the most basic common thing there is. These aren't new ideas. This is radical thinking. This isn't novel or clever or ingenious. This is actually about the most simple way we can possibly live. But that's the beauty of it. The beauty is in its simplicity, the beauty is in its lack of complexity, the beauty is in its ease. But the path through life of least resistance is found in the truth.
The path the quality of life that we really want to live is lived by walking in the truth, by telling the truth, by being the truth, by living a life with high integrity. That that's what we actually want. That's what we're actually after, something that's real, something that has meaning, something that has purpose, something that's bigger than ourselves because we're wrapped up in our own lies, that can never be bigger than ourselves, that's completely self-centered, that locks us into self-service and self-gratification. If we want to break free from our own self-centeredness and just gratifying ourselves, we have to connect with the truth, because the truth is bigger than we are.
The truth is infinite. We are limited. We can only do so much. We're only here for a short amount of time. We only have access to a very small amount of things, but the truth is bigger than all of that. The truth is infinite. The truth leads us to wholeness. The truth leads us to something greater than ourselves. The truth gives us an orientation, beyond our own self-serving, beyond our own self-centeredness, beyond our own shallowness, beyond our own superficiality, to something that feels better, something that objectively just is better or rarely, subjectively, is way better.
It's a way better way to live. And just because it's simple doesn't mean it's easy, especially if you've constructed a life that is built upon and sustained by living a lie in some way. But we'll have to reconcile that, we'll have to adjust that, we'll have to reorient around that and that may be hard, that may take some time, that may be difficult, but it's worth it. It's worth it to live a life that's real. It's worth it to live a life that's true. It's worth it to live a life of meaning and purpose. It's worth it to live a life that feels whole, feels like who and what we really are, and we can find our way, that life of who we really are, what really matters to us, what would really be the best life for us, by living a life of high integrity.