How To Live Better By Lying Less

We live in a world of lies, from what you hear on the news to what you read online to what your “friends” post on their Facebook. Because a functional society is the ultimate lie, it’s a collective performance with lies as the necessary lubricant.

But it is what it is, it’s the world we have, and the world doesn’t change, studying history will make that crystal clear to you. But you what you can change is yourself, and by osmosis, that change can effect the people around you. My business down to this very article is just a reflection of the changes I’ve made in my life.

The changes I’ve made to myself have made my life better, and doing my best to be honest is one of those changes, because lying less makes you happier:

Why Lying Less Will Make You Happier

1) You have less to remember

No second cellphones, no remembering what girl you told what story, no hassle. When you just tell the truth you don’t have to worry about who you told what, and remembering where you left off with that person in your web of lies.

2) You get to call yourself a standup guy

A standup guy is honorable, accountable and his word means something. This is the kind of guy you want to be. When you’re a standup guy you get to feel proud. It feels good to be a standup guy because you know that you’re the kind of guy that you respect.

When you live like a snake, it’s hard to respect yourself, in fact it’s probably hard to even like yourself. Life is a lot easier when you just keep it real.

3) You get to sleep well at night

When you lie less you don’t have to worry about your girlfriend going through your phone. Or your wife catching you with another women and taking half of everything you own. Or your clients calling you out. Or getting sued for bad business practices. You can sleep comfortably knowing you don’t have anything to hide.

When you live a lie, any day that whole house of cards could collapse, and you don’t know where the weak link will be – that’s the kind of stuff that will keep you up at night.

4) You get to have real relationships

When you’re honest with people, they get to know the real you. When you’re not, your whole life becomes a performance. Instead of real relationships, your representative ends up in a relationship with her representative. That’s a hard way to be happy. It’s much easier just being honest and surrounding yourself with honest people who like you for you.

How To Avoid Lying

Lying is social lubricant, expected and very hard to avoid. Lies are social currency, what you feel is not, you’re paid for the performance. But, that doesn’t mean you have to lie. Also, you don’t have to be “brutally honest”. There is a nice middle ground, it might be tough at first but it gets easier when you:

1) Be mindful

Being mindful will stop the first tier of lies, the ones you tell without realizing it, automatically and unconsciously. Awareness and mindfulness are so important, not just in regards to lying but in regards to your day to day state control. 

2) Remove people from your life who expect you to perform

3) Learn how to deliver a sh*t sandwich – compliment/softened criticism/compliment

But make no mistake, being at truth teller makes you an outcast – which is not as cool as it sounds. Radical honesty is not the move, you never go full retard. Sh*tting out the first thing that comes to your mind, under the guise of being brutally honest, is a hurtful way to move through the world.

Knowing that your brutal honesty will hurt those around you means that you’re willingly causing suffering, and not living in ahimsa – or the principle of non-suffering. If I’m going to make someone suffering, it’s only after they through the first punch, and only if I decide not to turn the other cheek.

When It’s OK To Lie To

Sometimes though, a lie is the best card to play in the game of life. And don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise, because they’re lying to you. Nobody goes through life without lying, that’s why the title of this piece is “How To Live Better By Lying Less” instead of “How To Live Better By Never Lying”.

There are three cases where it is your duty, as a player in the game of life, to lie:

1) When  Your Survival/Freedom Is In Jeopardy

It’s perfectly acceptable to lie to anyone who wants to use physical or economic force against you, in fact it’s your duty the game of life. Do or say whatever you have to do under the threat of physical or financial attack. Note, not advocating breaking the law, it’s not a smart move.

2) Getting out of slavery

To get out of the workforce and into your own business is a difficult thing to do. Don’t make it any more difficult by showing your hand, until you quit and set out on your own act like the good company boy and make sure nothing gets in the way of you getting your money.

3) Small noble lies

When you run into an acquaintance, who happens to be a nice guy, and he says you should do lunch some time, you’d have to be a monster to flat out refuse to his face. In this case I’ll always answer in the affirmative, even though the lunch will never happen.

Same goes for if your mom asks if you really wanted to talk to her that day, and you don’t, I’ll still answer in the affirmative again. At that point a small, noble lie is better than telling the truth, at least in my book.

It’s not perfect morality, but I look at it as avoiding making that person suffer for something so small. And when you remove people from your life who expect you to perform, you’ll barely have to deal with these situations anyway.

4) State checks

When someone asks me how I’m doing, the only thing they’re going to hear is good, great or excellent. Especially if I’m out with a group of guys for a few beers, I’m not going to bring everyone’s state down by going through a bunch of problems I had that day.

Instead I’ll put on the happy face and work on getting my state up. This is also a great way to turn your day around, fake it till you make it.

I think it’s a good habit to always greet people you know cheerfully, even if you’re not feeling it that day.

Additional Resources