Thursday, 23 September 2021

T To Your Health

Be Who You Really Are

“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” - Mark Twain

Integrity is a health-enhancing, but somewhat uncommon, character quality. Its root meaning is from the Latin “entire,” implying completeness, incorruptibility, soundness, or an entity that is undivided. A person of integrity has what has been called “an undivided self.”[1] Such a person is who he says he is, keeps his promises, tells the truth, lives his live openly and honestly, and is totally trustworthy, primarily because he has a core set of values and adheres to them consistently in all he says or does.

By contrast, there’s the purveyor of “snake oil,” some used car salesmen, and many politicians – anyone who is willing to bend the truth in order to sell you something or to get your vote. With such people, we just know that if their mouth is open, they’re lying. However, lest we sound too judgmental, the reason we say that integrity is uncommon is that most of us have been guilty of stretching the truth in one way or another, even if it is not our habit to do so; for example, being less than honest on our taxes, cheating on a test, plagiarizing someone else’s material, or intentionally deceiving someone for whatever reason. Mark Twain, who obviously knew a lot about this subject, said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” People who tell lies may not grow longer noses, but they do live in a state of anxiety, always trying to remember what they told to whom. This and the unresolved guilt that can go with it, is hazardous to your health, not to mention your reputation.

Bill grew up in a home where very conservative morals were taught and practiced. Nobody lied, cheated, stole, or even thought of doing such things. He watched his grandparents on both sides celebrate their 50th wedding anniversaries. Faithfulness and integrity were deeply ingrained. In his early adult years, Bill was a model of integrity, being elected as a deacon in his church at a young age. So, when Bill had an affair that became public, the judgmental attitude and rejection of his church and family wasn’t enough; he internalized the guilt and developed symptoms of severe osteoarthritis, which continued until he was able to internalize something even stronger, a sense of God’s forgiveness, love, and grace, which gave him back a sense of integrity.

A mother once brought her child to Gandhi, asking him to tell the young boy not to eat sugar, because it was not good for his diet or his developing teeth. Gandhi replied, “I cannot tell him that. But you may bring him back in a month.” The mother was angry as Gandhi moved on, brushing her aside. However, one month later she returned, not knowing what to expect. The great Gandhi took the small child’s hands into his own, knelt before him, and tenderly communicated, “Do not eat sugar, my child. It is not good for you.” Then he embraced him and returned the boy to his mother. The mother, grateful but perplexed, queried, “Why didn’t you say that a month ago?” “Well,” said Gandhi, “a month ago, I was still eating sugar.”[2] Integrity is as integrity does.

In her doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Leanne Olson studied the relationship between moral integrity, psychological well-being, and anxiety. Her findings supported the hypothesis that “moral integrity is positively associated with well-being and negatively associated with anxiety. Moral integrity is experienced as a sense of wholeness and balance. The moral emotions that yield a sense of cohesiveness from believing the right thing and doing the right thing are the same emotions that trigger anxiety with a loss of that cohesiveness.”[3]

Living with integrity means being who you really are – without pretence or dishonesty - because you have a set of values that control and direct your actions, no matter what. When there is this level of congruence between your beliefs and your actions, you will be healthier, happier, and you’ll have a lot more friends, for sure.

Suggestions for being who you are:

1. Make a list of all the people of integrity you’ve known.

2. Identify characteristics that make these people stand out in your memory.

3. Ask yourself – Were any of these people perfect? If not, how did they handle their imperfections in such a way that you still consider them to be people of integrity?

4. Ask yourself if you are a person of integrity. If so, why? If not, what could you do to better exemplify this quality?

5. Try to recall some instances where you violated your conscience. How did you feel? How did you resolve the cognitive dissonance between your core values and your actions?

6. Recall instances where you acted with integrity, despite the possible consequences, and how you felt as a result.

7. Strike from your vocabulary “Do as I say; not as I do” because others (children, relatives, friends) may be looking to you to demonstrate true integrity.


[1] As far as we know, this phrase was coined by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870-1937).

[2] Leadership Demands Integrity By Example George Ludwig Frugal

[3] The Relationship Between Moral Integrity, Psychological Well-Being, and Anxiety. Dr. Leanne M. Olson


This article is adapted by the author from the book 70 Ways to Beat 70 by Drs. David B. Biebel, James E. Dill, and Bobbie Dill, RN (Grand Rapids MI: Revell, 2008). All rights reserved.

Columnist: Dr. David B. Biebel

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Dr. Biebel has authored or co-authored twenty books, including one bestseller: If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad? and the Gold Medallion winner, New Light on Depression. His recent releases include Making God Visible and Away in a Manger: The Christmas Story from a Nativity Scene Lamb's Point of View.

His goal is to help people attain and retain optimal physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health (personal wholeness) so they can love the Lord with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. He founded Healthy Life Press ( to help new authors with something to contribute in this arena to get their works into print.

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        To Purchase these or any other of Dr. Biebel's titles click HERE


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