Reducing Stress By Living Honestly

This past weekend my oldest daughter had two days of interviews for major college scholarships. If she was awarded either of them it would not only take care of the financial burden of college, but also put her in a network of people that would give her untold opportunities both at the university and when she started her career.

While at a dinner honoring the scholarship finalists, one well-meaning gentleman suggested that Alex should say to the interviewers that she might not attend NC State if she was not awarded the scholarship. He said that would make them more likely to award her one of the scholarships to make sure she attended the university. I wasn't comfortable with his suggestion, and Alex later commented, "I can't do that. It would be a lie. I know I want to attend NC State. Saying anything else would be wrong."

Of course as a parent, I was elated. As life changing as this scholarship would be, Alex knew that nothing was worth lying-or even stretching the truth for. Doing such a thing adds mental and emotional baggage that limits our ability to live life to the fullest.

I think on a daily basis many of us lie to ourselves and others about our work or life situation or circumstances and unnecessarily increase the stress levels to "keep face" about the lie we previously told. Some instances might include:

  • Telling ourselves we don't need a little more rest to be more productive.
  • Telling others that we can handle an increased workload when in reality we do need some relief.
  • Telling ourselves that we will look weak to our spouses if we are honest with them about fears, angst or depression (Hint: They already know).
  • Holding back from telling others about career plans, dreams or personal pursuits because we don't want to look "silly" or appear immature.
  • Failing to be honest with someone about how their comments hurt or angered us. Each day we postpone talking with them, we prevent the mental wounds from healing.

Life is too short to carry around mental baggage created by worrying that what we said will be found out to be a lie... or trying to make it a truth. Always answering honestly (appropriate for the moment of course) is one way to reduce the incredible stress levels present in our lives.