It’s the Right Thing to Do
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even if no one is watching.” I love this quote by C.S. Lewis. It sums up how I choose to approach life and my interactions with people. It’s what helps me sleep at night. Doing things right — ethically, and with integrity — is easier when there is an audience. I believe our true colours or essence come out when no one is watching; when there is no fame to be had for being kind, compassionate or honest.
My heart is warmed when I read stories of people displaying integrity, especially when they are happening in my own town. Stories of wallets being returned fully loaded with cash. Posts about the lost house or car keys that are returned after being found in a park. The person who pays for the groceries of the frazzled mom ahead of them — the one with screaming kids who has lost her wallet or left it at home. Someone buying coffee for the customer behind them in the drive-through line. My favourite is the kids who are honest about whose turn it is on the slide when the kid in front of them isn’t paying attention.
I have quoted Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements many times. For me, it’s like a guide to life — I love it. I keep coming back to it, and I often recommend it to others. The first agreement, which is “Be impeccable with your word”, at first glance is easy. When I say to you I will do something, I do it. There are those little moments in life where we have a choice: do what’s easy, which will give you instant gratification or the make the harder choice, which gives you the warm internal feeling of satisfaction, knowing you’ve done something good. That internal satisfaction is a natural reward that lasts so much longer than the fleeting gratification that comes from taking the easy road.
As I was contemplating this topic, I realized I have work to do when it comes to being in integrity with myself. For me, integrity tends to be more of a natural reflex when it comes to doing what is right for others. It comes easy for me to be in integrity with my word or deed when it is outwardly focused. However, I don’t know that I am that impeccable with my follow-through when I commit to things for myself.
When I say I will get up and meditate in the morning and instead roll over and hit snooze (after all, I was up numerous times throughout the night, or I am still tired and I should honour my body… insert any other justification here), I am not living in integrity with my word to myself. My inner child starts to feel neglected, even though it’s not a conscious attack. To see it from a different perspective, I can replace my inner child with someone in my life. Doing this, I realize that when I make a commitment to a person, I always follow through, whether I’m tired or not. I know they will be waiting for me at our agreed upon time, and I don’t want to let them down. I am always glad when I show up, as I am being impeccable with my word. I am acting with integrity.
So without judgement, I am aware of an area of my life that needs a bit of love. I am grateful for the lesson. This week I have a renewed focus. As I dust off my copy of The Four Agreements, I will be impeccable with my word to myself, to my inner child. I will bestow this gift of integrity within. It also helps that I’ve made this commitment publicly. It’s a step, and I am embracing the steps to a drama-free life no matter how small. Like a turtle, small and slow steps still go in the right direction and get to the destination. I will be impeccable with my word to myself — acting with as much integrity towards myself as I give to the people in my life.