The Pursuit of Excellence Practical steps toward happiness


Do the Right Thing?

Do you always do the right thing, even when nobody’s looking?

Don’t feel bad, I don’t either.

But I try really hard to.  It’s not easy to live up to such a lofty goal, but I’ve learned that living with integrity will bring you joy.

I have this vivid memory from when I was 7 or 8 of coming home late from the park.  My dad was sitting in the bath tub grilling me about where I’d been.  I wasn’t supposed to be out after dark.  I concocted the best lie I could with a 7 year old’s brain, but it quickly crumbled under questioning.

“I’ll be more upset with you for lying than for anything else you may have done,” he said.

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I came clean.  It was a powerful experience that stuck with me.  For a long time I was honest to a fault.  I couldn’t even cheat at Monopoly!

Later in life the stakes became higher, and the tests more challenging.  In small ways, I sacrificed my principles.  I omitted the truth, bent it, ignored it, buried it.  I did mental gymnastics to be able to live with myself.  It was easier than starting a fight, saying sorry, or hurting someone because I had done something that I regret.

This didn’t happen a lot, but those few transgressions were killing me inside.  I finally learned my lesson and I’m a lot happier now.

Unless you’re a sociopath, you have a conscience; an understanding of morality.  When your actions are in conflict with your morals, you will have a constant thorn in your subconscious.  If the conflict is large, it may manifest in your external world.  You may have trouble sleeping or eating; you may start to hate yourself.  But when actions and morals are in sync, you give yourself a great gift: integrity.

Integrity means “to be whole.”  Integrity is being true to your ideals and principles even when that’s difficult, even in the face of reprisal.  Even when nobody is looking.  Honesty is just one facet of integrity.

Would you rather be whole, or a fraction of a human being?


Keep it together, man

“That’s naive; the world doesn’t work that way; you’ll get fired!”  I’ve heard all the doubts.  I’ve HAD those doubts.  My resolve is tested often, but when I act with integrity, it feels really good.

Yes, it’s easier to be part of the status quo.  But just the feeling of being whole is worth any kind of temporary hardship.  More tangibly, you’re often rewarded for doing the right thing in the long-run.  It may lead to a better job or a healthier friendship.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what is “the right thing to do.”  We will all continue to get it wrong at times, but it’s your intention that matters.  Strive for integrity, and you will find greater happiness.

That’s the truth.

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  1. Ethics matter – not just because of how you feel internally, but because of the social reality. As we become more consciously aware of this we’re slowly starting to do the right thing; not to be altruistic, but because it’s really the best way to get ahead. Forward together…

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