Telling the truth is almost always the best choice. The “almost” part is the tricky bit.
You always have a choice about honesty and fortunately most of the time, the choices are easy. You can judge by the people involved, the setting and your motivation.
Being carelessly honest can do harm (and I’m not just referring to the answers to “how do I look?” questions). You may have a hunk of honesty that another person is simply not ready to accept, so consider your recipient.
If you are under oath, any lie or omission could have serious consequences, so if you lie, your reasons had better be equally serious. Would I lie to save a puppy? Of course!! Would I lie to a judge to save a puppy? Well… it would have be a very real danger to a seriously cute puppy and no other choice at hand.
If you are tempted to lie to protect your own laziness, don’t do it. That’s the worst impulse — to evade the truth just to save time or a little bit of work.
Little kids lie almost as soon as they can talk, but it’s really more wishful word choice than serious lying. Your sister’s first lie was memorably, “Bad dog!!” when she had trashed her room during nap time without any help from the dog. (The dog still looked guilty, because, dogs).
When we’re older we know better. We might want to pretend things are different, but we know that falsification, forgery, fib, feints and fabrications are just a few shades of bullshit.
If we start lying to ourselves about our lies, we are in very, very big trouble. Not only is it exponentially more work to keep track of a whole tissue of lies, it’s a real danger to our mental health.
Dedication to reality is basic to mental health, and seeking and embracing the truth to the fullest extent possible is a brave and rewarding habit, enlightening even. It will make your life and all the lives you contact better and stronger.
In order to avoid wandering off into La-la Land, we need to keep our focus on what is true at all times. Even if we occasionally lie to smooth over a small social situation, we need to keep our eye on the truth and say, “Howdy.”
People, particularly teen people, will get argumentative and say things like, “No one can be sure about objective reality, because we’re stuck in our subjective reality,” or “There is no reality.”
Don’t give up. Maybe we can never be entirely certain of what reality is or what a color is or what color reality is, but still, try really hard to keep it real.
Your brain is counting on you.
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