Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
I’ve got a very different sort of newsletter for you to close out the year. I don’t make new year’s resolutions, but often I do set intentions. Last year, my intention for 2018 was to lie less. Not the big lies. I have a handle on those. I’m talking about the little lies that we all use for various reasons. Maybe we don’t want people to think poorly of us or get upset with us, maybe we’re a people pleaser, maybe we want to avoid potential conflict: there are probably as many rationals for the little lies as there are little lies themselves. Let me give you an example. There are many examples I can choose from during my year of lying less, but I’ll go with a recent one.
Recently I ate at one of my favorite restaurants, Roy’s. I’ve been going there for years and I always say, “Roy’s never disappoints.” I ordered the Korean ribs. The ribs were cooked but not served hot. They were barely warm. When the server asked if the ribs were OK I could have gone with a little lie to avoid seeming like a finicky customer and not wanting to make a fuss. But mostly, being that Roy’s is one of my favorite places, my intention was to let them know that the kitchen had served food that wasn’t properly heated. I didn’t want the chefs to repeat that mistake with the next customer. If I came off as picky or fussy, so be it. The key to telling the truth is in caring less about how what you have to say is perceived. I’ll let you know what happened next in a minute, but first let me talk about an interesting article that I read years ago. I saw it again last year and it started me thinking about “radical honesty”.
In 2007, Esquire magazine published an article called “I Think You’re Fat,” by A.J. Jacobs. Jacobs reports on an experiment he conducted in which he adopted a philosophy of “radical honesty” for one month. In case you’re not aware of the radical honesty movement, it was founded by Brad Blanton, a Virginia-based psychotherapist who specializes in truth-immersion therapy. If you do read the article by Jacobs let me caution you, it’s not an easy read because Brad Blanton is, how shall I put it, quite a character. I did find the article an interesting read and had a few good laughs. It has a lot of truth in it, even if sometimes the messenger is offensive.
A.J. Jacobs reduces his lies by 40%! That’s what impressed me and got me thinking about my own lies. Most of us ask ourselves, “Why make waves?” We lie to avoid those future waves that may or may NOT happen.
Jacobs recounts how he told the truth in all sorts of situations in which he normally would have lied. He learns that relationships can tolerate more truth than he had thought. They don’t fall apart, for example, just because he tells a friend that he just does not feel like having lunch that day, as opposed to making up an excuse about a doctor’s appointment. His commitment to the truth generally opens the door to truthful responses from his friends and colleagues, which makes for more honest and meaningful relationships. Even his boss reacts well when Jacobs truthfully writes that he resents the delay in getting back to him about a memo in a timely fashion. Yet when an old, retired man whose wife recently died sends Jacobs some poems for his opinion, he cannot bring himself to answer that he did not care for the poems; he lies, saying they are very good. Despite his commitment to the truth, he says, “I can’t trash the old man.”
At the end of the month, Jacobs feels tremendous relief to be able to return to the white-lies, half-truths, and other deceptions that most of us practice on a daily basis. He concludes that had he been honest 100 percent of the time, rather than the 90 percent he achieved, he “would have gotten beaten up, fired, and divorced.”
So why bother writing about this topic at all? Why not keep my intention and lying less experiment to myself?
I discovered that telling the truth, not always but certainly to a much greater extent than I had before, serves me well, creating more honest and open communication between me and the people I come in contact with. I also discovered a sense of relief in not making up stories, and I developed a keener sense of knowing when others were telling me truths or lies. It turns out that for the most part I don’t need to protect my ego or “image” so much. I’m too old for that, anyway! Not everyone reacts well to my telling the truth, and that’s OK because it’s real and honest too. All of this is important to me and I value honesty and knowing I can speak truthfully and create the space for others to as well.
It’s my hope you’ll consider when and why you tell little lies, and perhaps put that habit through a different lens. Perhaps an experiment like the one that both Jacobs and I did might create a greater sense of well-being in your life. Or maybe not. It’s always good to shake things up a bit!
Ah yes, the ribs at Roy’s. The chef ended up cooking two extra ribs for us which came out delicious and hot. The smile on the chef’s face led me to believe he was glad to be told because what chef doesn’t want a happy customer, and who knows how many diners left Roy’s dissatisfied rather than feeling delighted!
As we close out 2018, it’s my blessing to be able to thank so many people for reading these monthly newsletters. I enjoy receiving all your emails with questions and comments. I even enjoy receiving the emails from people telling me they want to be taken off the mailing list…….it’s honest!
May the new year bring you abundant health and joy…….especially in movement!