So far in these discussions, I have argued that truth is real, in fact that by its very nature, it is correspondence with reality. I’ve claimed that truth is a good thing—always better than believing or accepting falsehood. We’ve talked about how to go about finding truth, why we should, and how to recognize it when we do.
But this topic—embracing truth—is the hardest of these to write, because it’s the hardest one to live up to.
Embracing truth is about integrity. It’s about living in accordance with your professed standards of right and wrong, doing what you say and believe you should do. Embracing truth is about stepping out on faith that the world—at least the corner of it that you influence—will be a better place, or that you will be a better person, when your life and behavior coincides with what is true.
So how do you do that?
Well, I’m certainly no expert on this subject; I fail to live up to my own expectations more often than I care to remember. It’s a constant struggle.
Accountability helps—having a close and trusted friend who is willing to honestly but graciously guide you back to the path when you’ve wandered off.
And I suspect that just telling someone else how you plan to live helps you to follow through, even if that person isn’t in a position to directly bring you back in line when necessary. In fact, that’s part of the purpose of this blog—to force myself to publicly commit to implementing the behaviors I want to exhibit.
Setting realistic, short-term goals is probably a good technique. Fulfilling them nurtures confidence, so you can tackle larger goals, gradually building up to bigger and harder goals.
It helps me to constantly remind myself that living uprightly, aligning my behavior and lifestyle with what is real and true, is better in the long run for both me and the part of the world I influence.
But perhaps most importantly, it seems self-evident that we always behave in accordance with our values. Regardless of whether we acknowledge them or are even cognizant of them, our true, most fundamental values always and inevitably reveal themselves in our behavior.
For example, I call myself a Christian, and say that I have committed myself to living my life in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, however, I fail to live up to that claim. For whatever reason, I do something that I know is contrary to Jesus’ teachings. At that point, I am placing more value on something—my pleasure, my self-will, my pride, whatever—than I place on my commitment to Christ, and my actions reveal that. If I did that often and consistently, my behavior would be showing that I really have much less commitment to Christ than I claim.
If our behavior is consistently not what we want it to be—if we are not living up to the truths that we claim to accept—then we might be able to change our behavior by changing our values. In my experience, we can change our values by changing what we focus on, what we pay attention to. It seems that we naturally become attracted to whatever we pay attention to. So reading different sorts of books, or watching different types of TV shows might be a place to start. Even observing what we think or daydream about, and intentionally guiding our thoughts toward what we want to value, can naturally increase the value we place on those things, and start to shift our inclinations toward the behavior that is consistent with them.
That is possibly why so many Christians find that reading the Bible and praying every day are such important personal disciplines. These activities focus attention on Christ and His teachings, naturally increasing the value placed on them, and “automatically” aligning behavior to those values.
It is difficult for me to imagine a higher calling than encouraging other people to embrace truth, and to live their lives with integrity. That is one of the fundamental purposes of this blog: to give me a venue to help others—including you—to discover truths that you might want to better integrate into your daily life, and to give you the opportunity to help me in the same way.
What helps you embrace truth?
Can you describe a behavior that you’ve changed to better align with what you believe to be true?
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