02/19/2013 01:59 pm ET Updated Apr 21, 2013

On Honesty

It seems like honesty, or a lack thereof, is a hot topic these days. I agree that from athletes on performance-enhancing drugs, to politicians who lack clarity, to unauthentic musicians, to Wall Street's myopic focus on self, things are running a bit amuck. But, you're probably wondering, why does this type of behavior occur? And what can be done to curb it in your own life, and thus set a freeing example for others?

Dishonesty, if you look real close, is the offshoot of a misunderstanding for how all of us create our feelings. Everyone, including you and me, has thoughts about lying or taking shortcuts. Those of us who know that these thoughts -- and nothing on the outside -- create our insecure feelings usually won't act on them. However, those who believe that circumstance causes these feelings have practically no choice but to take that shortcut or lie. It's this misunderstanding about the source of our feelings that results in dishonesty -- nothing else. And to be clear: I'm not excusing dishonesty; I'm explaining it.

That's why judging, punishing, or preaching right and wrong to those who act untruthfully won't help (and isn't helping) rein things in. Think about it: Did your parents' overbearing rules when you were a teenager make you fib more or less? Rather, if you want to help create a more honest world, teach others about the true cause of behavior. People feel the ebb and flow of their thinking, and not the ebb and flow of what happens to them.

Don't forget: You create your outlook on life; life doesn't create your outlook. Thinking unethical thoughts doesn't make you unethical. It makes you feel unethical -- no harm in that. Provided, that is, you get a solid grip on the principle that acting on unethical, or insecure, feelings won't ever make them go away. It makes them come back even stronger.

© 2013 Garret Kramer, author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life

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