You hear a lot about the law of attraction, synchronicity and some other fancy concepts all the time, but when was the last time you heard a self help guru talk about integrity and how being out of whack with your own personal code of ethics can be a huge fun sucker?
I had never even heard of integrity as a means of personal development before. It was always something you heard about in church or old black and white movies where some big situation would arise and a dashing character in a sweet hat would act with integrity and just “do the right thing”.
It just so happens thought that the law of attraction and synchronicity have been working in my life because that’s how the word “integrity” came into my awareness.
A long time ago in some self help book or audio I have, I heard or read about integrity but at the time it was just a tiny seed that was planted and forgotten about. But lately, I’ve been bumping into that word on a regular basis.
So what does living with integrity and your personal code of ethics have to do with living a sweet, fun-filled life?
Lets talk about what integrity can actually mean.
If you look at integrity right from the definition it means:
1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
2. The state of being wholesome; unimpaired
3. The quality or condition of being complete; pure
It also does in fact come from the latin word integritās (“soundness, integrity”), the root being integer. Right, well we’ve come this far so what are ethics and what does it mean to have a steadfast adherence to a personal code of ethics?
Well ethics could be called the accepted principles of right and wrong, among others things. Right and wrong to who? Well, YOU, if it’s a personal code of ethics. And guess what? If you are following someone else’s accepted principles of right and wrong, you could possibly personally feel stuck, internally torn and incomplete.
So lets put it all together then so we can get back to how integrity puts us onto a kick butt lifestyle.
Living a life of integrity means that you adhere to your personal sense of right and wrong, and by taking actions based on those beliefs, create a life for yourself that feels wholesome, fluid, complete and pure.
Here is where you have to grow some parts and be conscious and aware of your daily life. There are a ton of ethical codes out there. Everyone has a set. There are business ethics, accounting ethics and even unwritten codes of ethics like when I was in the Army.
If you want to feel whole and live a life of integrity you must have your code of ethics trump all others that cross your path. There are people that will be emotionally hurt by this but you have to remember that even if you acted OUT of integrity it is NEVER your job to try to change another person’s emotions by sacrificing your own. It’s a losing battle. People will feel what they feel and when you try to guess you often just end up with two pissed off people. The one you were trying to help and yourself for not taking the action you knew you should have.
Selfish? Maybe, but who’s to say that’s wrong also? We all have gifts to bring to the world and its impossible to do the things that need to be done to feel whole and complete without someone seeing a problem with it.
What do I mean? You recycle paper; you put a paper mill worker out of a job. You save the planet, you starve a fellow human. You break up a relationship, your partner feels terrible. Should you be the one to stay in the relationship and feel terrible or do you follow your heart?
The bottom line is that you can only be sure that your actions will make you happy. Guessing about others just doesn’t work. You have to do what is right for you and let the cards fall where they may.
When you feel internal conflict and dis-ease, you can bet there is a clash of ethics. Usually yours with someone else’s. But we can argue with ourselves too and feel tension when we don’t follow our heart.
How To Live Your Life In Integrity
So if living a life of integrity sounds like something you want to do, how do you start? Start with a gut check. What parts of your life right now give you a wobble in your stomach when you think of them. What parts of your life do you NOT want to think about? That’s another big clue.
Living in integrity and following your own personal code of ethics is all about feeling and here is the best example I can think of.
You’re lying on the ground with a 250 pound wrestler on your chest and you have a plastic bag wrapped around your head. Every time you get rid of something in your life that is not inline with your ethics or that is out of sync with what you should be doing, you get to punch a hole in the bag. You can breath a little easier. More clearing of issues and situations and you get more holes to suck in some life giving air until you reach a point where the wrestler stands up off your chest and says “Awesome. Good job, let me get that bag off your head for you.”
You know what you should be doing. You can feel it. Take action and get it done.
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* This animation was created for Primary Ethics to give people a basic understanding of what philosophical ethics is all about. This four minute video was written and directed by Leonie Johnson, animated by Victoria Moey, voiceover by Finn O’Keefe and soundtrack by Peter Bailey. Thanks to each of them for their skill and generosity in creating this great asset for Primary Ethics.
An introduction to philosophical ethics