The writer C.S. Lewis didn’t just give us The chronicles of Narnia, but also one of my favorite quotes, “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” In this age of social media, many people do things because they think it could make them look good for their followers, but if you are truly interested in being a better person, the best time to practice is when nobody is around.
In fact, I would say that the first step to integrity, which is honesty with yourself and with others, is to start working on it exactly when there is nobody else around. Below, I discuss how to start practicing integrity, which actually begins with an internal process, and then trickles down to influence those around you.
- The way integrity works
People often say that they want the opportunity to prove that they have integrity, even before they have proven it to themselves. And you will be the most difficult person to convince. For instance, if you have set the goal to lose weight, only you will know that you ate that late-night cookie. When you start to develop the willpower to say no to all the little temptations, you are starting to build the strength to practice integrity in every aspect of your life. Integrity has the ripple effect of influencing your work decisions, your workout decisions, your eating habits, and even your relationships.
- Be ready to practice integrity
Once you start to focus on having integrity, there is often something nagging away at the back of your head. It is your conscience reminding you of the times that you didn’t practice integrity. Listening to this voice is vitally important. If it’s a bad habit, you can start thinking about changing it. If it’s the way you act in the heat of the moment, it is a bit more difficult to fix, but can still be done with a bit of hard work. Play the scenario over in your head. Then picture the way you should have acted in that situation. Visualize yourself practicing that integrity in a difficult situation a few times over. The next time a difficult situation arises, you won’t do something you will regret later on, but you will act in the way you practiced.
- The snowball effect of integrity
When people start to see you as a person with integrity that can be counted on in any situation, that starts to have a positive effect on your reputation. With an improved reputation, lots of things in life become easier, including your relationships and finding the perfect job. The smallest changes you make in your life could have huge long-term consequences.
- Think about your commitments
People with integrity don’t like to let others down, but this does not mean saying yes to everything. Remember, if you have integrity, your word is your bond. So, before you commit to anything, be sure that you can deliver. If there is a good chance that you cannot stick to your commitment, then don’t make that commitment. Those around you will probably appreciate your honesty if you state that you would really like to help them, but your situation doesn’t allow you to make the commitment. Sometimes, it takes more integrity to say no than to say yes.
The great thing about doing the right thing is that practice makes perfect. At first, it may seem like a chore, but soon, it becomes second nature; after all, we are creatures of habit.