While this isn't exactly anything new, I've been thinking about it a bit lately and thought I'd share my view on it.
It's easier to be honest when it's over something big.
I think most of us consider ourselves to be honest. It's kind of like driving. I am an above average driver while the rest of you are all below average. In fact, you stink! Get out of my way you below average scum bag! To you however, I am the scum bag and you are above average. I'm not saying I think everyone else isn't honest. I'm just saying I think we all believe ourselves to be more honest than we actually are.
If you consider yourself to be an honest person, what exactly do you think that means? Does it mean you are honest about everything and anything no matter what? Are you honest most of the time? Are you honest unless it's something that doesn't seem to change anything? Are you honest except for when a lie makes you look better?
How many times have you let a misunderstanding or even a blatant lie pass by because it was seemingly insignificant? Or even told a small lie not thinking it was a big deal? How many times have you driven away from a store and realized you paid less than you should have, but didn't worry about it because A) it was a very small amount. B) it was the cashier's fault. C) the ridiculously rich CEO of the company could learn what it feels like to lose money. or D) it's President Bush's fault (everything else is, why not this?). Guess what? Being honest isn't always about who you hurt. Often times the only person you will hurt is yourself. That isn't to say that hurting others is okay though. What I mean is that that even if you don't care about hurting someone else, you still hurt yourself.
How many times have you been dishonest about something big (business decisions, really big juicy lies)? Chances are you've been more honest about big things than small things. I know a guy who told me about a business decision he had to make that could have saved him tens of thousands of dollars, but would have been dishonest so he didn't do it. While that was probably a hard decision to make I somehow think it would be an easier decision to make than 10 cents at the grocery store.
If you're honest about $40,000, but can't be honest about 10 cents are you really honest? Or are you more afraid that you might get caught over the $40,000?
Right now you may be thinking "I understand this perfectly fine, Ryan. What's your point?"
I guess my point is this:
While the big things can cause problems at work, in relationships, or other things how often is it the big things that cause problems for us? Seriously. When was the last time you were dishonest about $40,000 dollars? When was the last time you told a small lie? I believe we get so caught up in the big things that the small things are overlooked and our problems don't get solved.
This can, of course, extend beyond just honesty. Honestly, how big of a deal is that your 2 year old kid spilled his juice? He/she doesn't deserve getting yelled at. What about if your kid wrecks the family car? What is more important? That your kid is okay after his car wreck or that he wrecked the car? I've been in a few car wrecks (only one was my fault) and am grateful that my parents did not yell at me and tell me how stupid I was for doing whatever I did or didn't do. Their first and last concern was always "is everyone okay?" I can honestly say that I have learned more from my parents not yelling at me than if they had yelled at me. When people yell at me I, like most everyone else, get defensive and don't pay attention to whatever that person is saying. If my parents would have told me how stupid I was to get in a car accident I would have wanted to go wreck another car. Maybe that's just me though. :)
"Small things" need to become "big things" in our minds and in our hearts. If we can make small things big things, the big things will take care of themselves. If you're honest about 10 cents at the grocery store, are you going to have a problem being honest over $40,000? Well, maybe, but it'll still be easier than if you're not honest about 10 cents. If you yell at your two year old because they spilled their juice are you going to be able to act even remotely sane if your teenager wrecks the car? If you can be honest over small things I am willing to bet you won't have a problem when/if big things come around. Also, if you can suppress your anger/irritation over the small things I am willing to bet that when something big comes up you'll be less likely to end up in jail with the police looking for your spouse in the land fill.
And so I challenge everyone, including myself, to pay closer attention to the small things. Make small things big things in your mind and in your heart. Take some responsibility! Feel guilty for once over something small! Apologize for yelling. Tell the truth about yourself. Go pay the cashier at McDonald's that extra 25 cents you didn't pay. You'll feel better, I promise. It'll get easier too. George Bush won't get blamed for everything and will so be happier. You'll be happier. Those around you will be happier. What could be better?
Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you have a harder time over big things as opposed to small things?