Self-Transformation Series:
Issue No. 23

The Importance of Integrity

Table of Contents

  1. Why Important
  2. Integrity defined
  3. Implications of Integrity
  4. Developing Integrity
  5. Developing Integrity in Children

I. Why Important

Integrity does not simply mean being honest. It means to be integrated, where there are no internal inconsistencies that diminish the authenticity of an individual. It is to be principled, and hence there is a wholesomeness in one's life. Such a life brings about courage and genuineness that are the foundations of true greatness in living. It develops trust. On the other hand, people who lack integrity tend to lack moral self-respect and self-confidence. They are inwardly unfulfilled and unhappy, and there is no real peace of mind.

II. Integrity defined

Webster's Third International Dictionary defines the word as:

An uncompromising adherence to a code of moral, artistic or other values; utter sincerity, honesty and candor; avoidance of deception, expediency, artificiality or shallowness of any kind.
The quality or state of being complete and undivided: material, spiritual or aesthetic wholeness; organic unity

Author Steven W. Vannoy writes:

Integrity is how you act when no one is watching, when no one knows what you're doing. It's always telling the truth, clearing up misconceptions or partial truths. It's never knowingly hurting anybody or anything. Parental integrity is not reading our children's mail or eavesdropping on their private conversations or snooping through their room. Integrity is keeping our commitments.

III. Implications of Integrity

A person with integrity has little fear of being found out. He is generally what he says or purports to be and ready to admit mistakes rather than hide them. There is inner consistency and honesty. This results in inner peace. Mark Twain wrote: "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

Credibility is one of the signs of effective human relations. One's statements are believed, and there is trust in one's relationships.

Whether one is a lawyer, businessperson, or laborer, integrity and honesty are qualities that will help in one's profession or work. In sales for example, the salesperson who does best is one who is known to be sincere and honest in selling his products, in other words, undeceptive and will not misrepresent.

Without integrity, one has not laid down the necessary foundations for awakening our higher spiritual potential. Lack of integrity means that one is still involved in schemes or deceptions or misrepresentations, which are symptoms of fear and lack of transparency, symptoms which indicate immature awakening of one's spiritual faculties.

IV. Developing Integrity

Integrity starts with a set of principles that will guide one's response to circumstances. These principles are imbibed from the youngest age, and hence are heavily molded by the elders surrounding the growing child. For adolescents and adults, it is important to review such values and principles and see whether there is internal consistency, that is, integrity.

Honesty is the most basic of these principles. Without honesty, integrity is impossible. Hence start with small things. If you are late for an appointment because you forgot, try saying the truth, and sincerely apologize for it. The other party may feel offended at first, but will deeply appreciate your honesty. If you are describing a situation, avoid exaggeration, because it can mislead and is a form dishonesty. Flattery is another form of dishonesty. You really don't mean what you say.

Never deceive them with false alibis or promises. Keep your commitments to them. In time, you will be surprised how much your children will listen to your advice. You would have earned their real trust.

When you promise something, you have bound yourself to it. Failure to keep up to your promise shows lack of integration within yourself: a part of you promises, and another part violates it. It develops mistrust. Avoid committing to something you cannot deliver.

Integrity means not violating the principle of fairness or equitableness.

V. Developing Integrity in Children


This above all -- to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. - Shakespeare
Our society can only be as good as its individual members who maintain their own level of personal integrity. - Steven Vannoy
If you're going to be honest, why not be completely honest? - Linda and Richard Eyre
Don't be ashamed to say what you are not ashamed to think. - Michel de Montaigne
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. - Mark Twain
Says John Ruskin: "He who has truth in his heart need never fear the want of persuasion on his tongue."
When the truth is in your way, you are on the wrong road. - Josh Billings
Truth gets well if she is run over by a locomotive, while error dies of lockjaw if she scratches her finger. - William Cullen Bryant
Things are never quite the same somehow after you have to lie to a person. - Christopher Morley
This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst then be false to any man.
William Shakespeare Honesty is the best policy, although sometimes keeping your mouth shut is even better. United Features Syndicate

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Copyright 1995. Permission to reprint is granted provided acknowledgment is made to:
Peace Center
Theosophical Society in the Philippines, 1 Iba St., Quezon City, Philippines

"If five percent of the people work for peace, there will be peace."