Being Intentional: Integrity
June 19, 2014
Better is the poor man who walks in his integrity than he who willfully goes in double and wrong ways, though he is rich.
The virtue of integrity has to do with living congruently with our deepest values. What do you deeply value? Don’t answer too quickly. Really think about it. If you value something but are not living congruently with that value, you are likely to be feeling stressed by those life choices. Do your actions match what you profess to value? That is integrity.
There is a line on the Virtue Cards (www.virtuesproject.com) that says, “ We cherish the challenge of doing the right thing in all circumstances.” I am drawn to that line for several reasons. First, we must discern what is the right thing. Sometimes the right thing is clear and simple. Many times, however, the right thing is a little more complex. When we live with integrity, we are aware of these complexities and we “cherish the challenge of doing the right thing”. We are willing to be present and conscious and we accept the challenge of discerning the “right thing”.
This past weekend I was privileged to study with one of the masters and grandfathers of
family therapy, Dr. Salvador Minuchin. Watching Dr. Minuchin work and generally just being in his presence was a lesson in living with integrity. At ninety years old, he is still learning. He listens carefully to questions. He is curious and discerning. He is clear about what he believes and able to articulate that, and yet he is present to other ideas.
One of his repeated phrases is, “Certainty is the enemy of change”. When families are certain about something, he challenges them. When he is certain of something, he accepts a challenge. He actively dialogues with others in the field, willing to talk about differences and similarities. He does this with respect and openness. Always, his final litmus test is “What is useful?” By this he means what is useful for the highest good and the healing of the client/family.
Fully present and with a desire to continue to give back to the world, I would describe him as whole-hearted. He continuously addressed the students in the group, saying to them that he wanted them to learn and keep learning. He was afraid, he said, that the older ones in the group already knew too much, or thought they did, and that they were no longer able to learn as much. Wow! Talk about a challenge to certainty! When he was exhausted at the end of the day, he just said, “Now I am very tired and it is time to stop.” So refreshing. So full of integrity.
Think about someone you know who lives with integrity. How do they do it? Perhaps you could interview them. Ask them what guides them. Ask how they discern the “right thing”. Think about what you value. Intentionally and consciously, try to live in harmony with that value. Slow down enough to allow your actions to match your values. Integrity is a virtue worth developing.
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