Are you living with integrity?

Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gains.”

Many of us make choices and decisions in our day to day life that define who we are and what we believe in. All of us face integrity-based choices on a regular basis. Most often, the choices we have to make may seem insignificant, but even the smallest choice or action we take has an impact on our reputation. And it always takes courage to do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances whether or not anyone is watching. But many stay disconnected from their true inner core and tend to carry on with social persona merely to seek acknowledgment, appreciation and acceptance. “The end justifies the means” has become a common school of thought in today’s world and many tend to either exaggerate, over-promise, or underdeliver in a desperation to meet their expectations or goals. They tend to justify their act of dishonesty by telling themselves a valid reason as to why the end result justified their lack of integrity.

Acting without the constraints of morality may provide instant gratification in the moment but is always temporary and the success with such actions comes with far reaching consequences and at the price of your trustworthiness. Just as honesty is essential to develop trust in any healthy personal or professional relation, so is integrity to become trustworthy. If you can’t trust someone in all areas, you can’t trust them in any. Integrity is a prerequisite for credibility and involves an inner sense of wholeness which results in being consistently honest and morally upright. Integrity is important in all aspects of life, professional, personal, or social.:

What is integrity?

Integrity is the quality of adhering to moral and ethical principles and is a state of being whole and complete or undivided. It comes with an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of your actions, words, decisions, measures, expectations, methods and outcomes. Integrity encompasses truthfulness, credibility and sincerity. Learning to live with integrity requires developing self-awareness, adhering to strict moral values and communicating truthfully to others regardless of the complexity of situation or the possibility of negative consequences.

Lack of integrity, for instance, saying you will do something and not doing it or telling a lie or leading someone to believe that they can trust you and betraying them, or hiding things about yourself so that the aspect of you that other people see is not the real you or changing your opinion in order to bend to other’s opinion shows inconsistency between your words and actions. Lack of integrity is not adhering to your conscience and not living in a state of wholeness. For instance, when someone puts pressure on your authenticity, then deciding to change your stance so others will see you as a good person demonstrates your lack of integrity. To give false impression or telling lie in a way to avoid shame of being different or for the fear of being ridiculed also takes you out of integrity.

Integrity is important to achieve your goals

Integrity is one of the most important and valuable character trait to build in order to be successful in your endeavours as it can help you to build trust, be honest and consistent in your efforts and in decision-making. Integrity includes two components that go beyond just doing the right thing. The first is honesty to adhere to moral and ethical principles. If we are honest with ourselves we know intrinsically what the right thing is without having to look to laws, rules or some code of ethics. Being honest with ourselves and others makes us authentic to build trust. And the second is consistency to live in alignment with your values, actions and words. Being consistent enables others to rely on their expectations of your future behaviours based on your past commitments or actions.

We often fail to stay committed to our goals and resolutions due to lack of integrity that is, we simply don’t keep our word to ourselves. We make promises to ourselves and then break them often for reasons we don’t even understand. How good are we to our expectations depends to a larger extent on our integrity. When you are in integrity, you bring the same you regardless of the circumstance and don’t leave parts of yourself behind thereby removing self-doubt and show consistency in your commitments. You cannot commit to your goals if you agree to things but never seem to be able to show up for your agreements, or when you use your words destructively or when you say things you don’t really mean. Such actions often take you out of integrity. Personal power to achieve your goals and objectives comes from being in integrity with yourself and others.

principles or values are prerequisites for personal growth. Maintaining moral high ground and honesty in your dealings with coworkers, friends, peers, superiors or team members helps you own your sphere of influence and can gain their trust as you become dependable and hold yourself accountable for your actions, decisions or choices. This can help you to build healthy relations and impacts your success positively.

“The most important persuasion tool in your entire arsenal is your integrity.”– Zig Ziglar

How to practice living with integrity?

Everyone makes mistakes, so being a person of integrity does not mean you haven’t committed a moral violation, it means having the strength of character to learn from those and seek continual self-improvement. It is an important character trait that can be strengthened and developed in our daily life. Here are some strategies to enhance and live in integrity.

Identify your core values. Your personal values are a central part of who you are and who you want to be. They are often shaped by your formative experiences, but your values may change as you grow and adopt to new stages of life. Assess the degree to which you adhere to them and focus on what matters most to you. To live with integrity is to align your behaviours and actions with your core values. Define what’s truly important to you and make sure they fit with your vision of yourself. Which values are important to you ? Do your values make you feel good about yourself? Are you proud of your values? Would you be comfortable and proud to tell your values to people you respect and admire? Do these values support your choice even if it isn’t popular? Answering these questions can help you in determining your values. By becoming aware of your values, you can use them as a guide to make the best choice in any situation and maintain your sense of integrity.

Align your choices with your core values and do not drift or fall into the easy or popular path while making important career choices, work or business agreements or personal decisions. Consider all the options and consequences and the impact of your decision on yourself and others. How does your decision align with your personal values? How would it differ from a decision you would make if no one found out about your choice? If you make a choice right now, will it hold good in the long-term? A good way to ensure that you are living a life of integrity is to assess where you are now and where you want to be in future in terms of your personal integrity. Analyse every choice you make. Keep in mind that in times of fear, stress or chaos, the temptation is even greater to make a wrong choice. Integrity isn’t about living by your values when it is convenient, they are values that you should live by all the time which include both big and small choices. By aligning with your values all the time, you can approach decision-making with more clarity and confidence.

Set a moral code for yourself and others. Choose a set of rules, morals or principles that you believe will lead you to righteous and satisfying life based on what your values are. Be willing to update your code as you adjust your sense of right and wrong and your moral reasoning. Most of the times how we think about right or wrong changes as we gain more experience. Whether it is leading a group of people or managing a business, parenting children, leading with integrity requires outlining a standard of behaviour by which others abide. Adhere at all times to the behavioural standard you have established for them.

Surround yourself with morally upright people. Avoid spending your time in environments that can drag you down morally. If people around you violate your sense of integrity, consider removing yourself from that environment. Develop friendships and work relationships with others who demonstrate integrity and who support your decisions. If you surround yourself with dishonest or by those who cut corners to get ahead, then you will find yourself following a pattern of enduring and adopting their behaviour. Do not give into others who try to get you to do things which are not in alignment with your values in favour of an easy gain. Remind yourself that you alone have to live with consequences of your behaviour.

Create an atmosphere of open communication

Communicate to others with authenticity. Be open with others regarding issues that affect them. Stop speaking impulsively or sugarcoating your response. Be assertive to put your point of view with authenticity and without being aggressive. Keeping secrets or hiding important information can lead to an environment of mistrust. Listen attentively to others to lead them with integrity. Acknowledge others’ contributions and practice tolerance for different perspectives. Be transparent in your interactions with others so as to avoid mistrust. If you are running into obstacles then communicate to the person and take responsibility for your words and actions.

Be honest in keeping your promises

For some people, overpromising, underdelivering, or apologising for running late, for being behind schedule on their work or project, or forgetting to do the thing they said they would becomes a regular thing. Stop and reflect before you say ‘yes’ to commitments. Practice saying ‘no’ to things you know you will have difficulty completing. If you break a promise, apologise, but don’t let that become a habit. Keep your appointments personally and professionally. Be honest in owning up to your mistake and take responsibility for your action and do whatever it takes to right the situation. If you give your word that something will be taken care of, do it. Follow through your promises and commitments. Reflect on what circumstances, relationships and patterns are leading you up to broken commitments to identify where you are most frequently breaking promises with yourself and others.

Live with mindfulness

When you live with mindfulness, you are conscious of the way you think, speak and behave every day and you work towards carrying out those activities in a more meaningful way. Meditating through mindful breathing can help you gain a deeper awareness of your thoughts and actions. You cannot live a life of integrity without being mindful of and concerned for others. A lack of empathy can result in poor judgment, act of selfishness and lead to unhappy relationships. Show compassion and empathy towards others. Reflect on how to live and make decisions in a way that is reflective of your values and beliefs by contemplating on which actions of yours are in accordance with your conscience? Is there consistency between what you are thinking and what you are doing? Are your thoughts and practices are same? and so on.

To conclude,

Are you living your life with integrity?

What are your core values? What standards of behaviour are really important to you? Do you have a habit of breaking your promises? Are you two-faced? What specific values you admire about other people, Is the fact that they are generous or honest? Are you aware of your authentic self? Do you identify yourself with those values? Would you still live by those values even if they put you at a complete disadvantage?How honest are you in your behaviours, actions, and words? Are your choices and decisions aligned with your core values in all situations? Answering these questions can put you in the perspective of whether or not you are mindful of integrity in your choices and decisions.

Acting in accordance with your integrity requires aligning all aspects of yourself with what is right and to be honest and authentic with yourself. Living with Integrity is not forcing yourself or trying to be better or harder and following yet another should. It is more about authenticity, self-honesty and a steadfast adherence to a strict moral code and being whole and undivided. Appreciate yourself when you act with integrity and acknowledge when you don’t. Use the above strategies to correct course when required. Be persistent and patient with yourself and others while practising integrity.

Related reading

https://sscascades.org/2019/05/19/are-you-being-self-aware/

https://sscascades.org/2019/06/09/how-to-be-a-good-listener/

Why loving what you do is important

“Love what you do and do what you love. Passion is the key that opens the door to joy and abundance.” – David Cuschieri

We cannot always associate success with either wealth or fame. To live successfully, you have to make choices that help you connect with what you most desire and your cherished goals. Finding and following one’s passion is a key to success and is important to live with happiness and fulfilment. Pursuing your life with passion also makes you more self-aware and self-confident. We might have our passion, but life doesn’t always afford us opportunities to follow our passions and we struggle to find passion in what we do on a daily basis. Also, as we go through life in a busy and monotonous way, our interests and passions take a back seat and we make money and career a priority. As a result, we lose touch with things that bring us happiness and we forget to search meaning and purpose in our life. Sometimes our limiting beliefs,or unresolved emotions, or self-doubt hold us back from living our life with passion.

What is passion?

Passion means having keen enthusiasm or intense desire for something. But it is not just enough to have enthusiasm and excitement, you should be able to channel this desire and enthusiasm to achieve what you really want to. Passion is ambition that is materialised into action. At the same time, passion cannot be considered as a starting point or an end point as your passions evolve as you grow. You might lose your passion for something as your interests change. Some people may discover what their passions are early in life while some discover their interests as they go through their life experiences. In fact even for high achievers, the road to their passion wasn’t easy enough as most of them spent long time exploring different possibilities. In other words, your passion can’t be the totality of your life nor it means that you have to get set on a singular idea. But just wishing or feeling passion for things and not working towards them is not being passionate. Living to your highest potential and working towards things you wish for is what is considered as living with passion.

There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela

Why is passion important?

Whether you are considering starting a new business or turning a hobby into a career, or working on any other dimension of your life, it is important that you pursue them with passion. You cannot give your complete attention to your work or stick with it in the long run if you are not interested. To be successful in your endeavours, passion is not the only ingredient, you also require intellect, discipline, persistence and hard work along with passion.  But at the same time, passion becomes an important ingredient as it can motivate you intrinsically.  We all need motivation in order to stay peristent in our efforts to realise our goals or to pursue our what we love.  But extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards like fame and money can only get you started, whereas passion keeps you intrinsically motivated which can lead to life-changing improvements and well-being and thus provide long-term motivation to stick to your goals. The more enthusiasm and the inner desire you have, the more inclined you will be to persist in your efforts. Passion increases your resilience quotient in the face of any obstacles or difficulties.

Most people are compelled to take up certain jobs for the need of a steady income or to fulfil their responsibilities even when they are not fully interested in those fields of work. Some might end up finding their passion in what they chose. But many continue to stay in them in order to fulfill their needs making them inherently dissatisfied in the long run giving rise to stress, boredom and discontentment. However, in such cases, if they find a way to pursue their interests in their free time, it can make them a lot more happier during the activities as well as for some time later and thus can remain less stressed even in thier regular work hours. When you feel truly driven, you naturally have the zest, energy, and enthusiasm providing you a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment and this feeling can keep you motivated in other areas of your life as well.

Loving what you do or living with passion improves your happiness quotient giving you moments where time loses its relevance and keeps you less stressed and highly motivated. There are many factors that hold you back from living your life with meaning and passion. Here are some such reasons.

• Not having enough time to pursue your passion.

• Limiting beliefs and negative thinking.

Fear of failure or what if scenarios and self-doubt.

• Indecisiveness or lack of clarity of what you really want.

• Having unrealistic expectations.

• Focusing only on external rewards.

• Unwillingness to leave your comfort zone.

How to live with more passion

We all have a tendency to view life in a complete opposite way from how it should be–simple, interesting, happy and fulfilled. Instead, we become too hard on ourselves making our lives complicated, busy, boring, and not happy with whatever we are doing. Some might discover early in life. But for some, it gets difficult to find what they are truly passionate about. Also sometimes an overt fixation on your passion, whether by dedicating your whole life to it at the expense of all other things can lead to problems. Living your life with passion is not all about being obsessed with the goal, but finding a right balance in life, by loving what you do and being content in focusing your efforts on getting close to your ambitions and desires. Here is how to achieve living with more passion.

Gain clarity on your core values

Many of us lead our lives based on outside influences which often lead us to unhappiness and inner turmoil. By living in alignment with your values and personal strengths, you can be more aware of what really drives you. If you don’t know what makes you passionate–Gain clarity on your core values, strengths, interests, skills, motivations and talents. This can make you more decisive in channelling your efforts towards purposeful action. You can connect to your core values by asking the following questions.

• What inspires you the most?

• What are you best at?

• What do you love and desire?

• What activities allow you to be creative?

• What is your definition of success?

Stop internalising your fear of failure

Most of us are too fearful in pursuing our passions or to make necessary life changes or to turn our passion into a full time career. Fear of failure creates self-doubt which takes us away from positive momentum to live passionately. Internalising failure strengthens your self-doubt preventing you from moving forward creating what if scenarios. If fear is stopping you from pursuing your passion, take time to reflect on the real impact of that setback. Often your fears blow such situations out of proportion. Learn to embrace failure as a valuable part of success and as part of following your dreams. Also, it is not necessary that if you failed in one pursuit, there aren’t any other possibilities. There are many ways to pursue your passions if you are willing to take risks and willing to step out of your comfort zone.

Cultivate skills

Many people have innate talents and hobbies which they turn into rewarding careers, but this doesn’t mean that those without any talents cannot live passionately. Cultivating skill that can make you better at what you do can give you a leg up in your field. Improving upon some of your abilities will help you improve your job satisfaction more than initial enthusiasm ever will. The idea that you will find success only if you follow your heart may be true only if you have a passion to follow. If have no passions, cultivating skills within your current framework can be more satisfying . Getting better at things that are valuable, provides a deeper source of meaning and helps you live with contentment. Stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone to deliberately learn a skill can bring out your passionate self.

Set expectations to preempt distractions

Establishing a set of concrete goals based on your passions can prevent you from drifting off course due to various other distractions. Turn your passion into clear goals and set boundaries so that you no longer at the mercy of outside circumstances. Laying down ground rules of what is acceptable, or what you wont allow yourself to indulge in and setting goals can stop you from procrastinating especially if you are palnning on pursuing your passion in your free time or as your career. Making a mental picture of where you want to be can provide motivation to ‘zone-in’ your passions. Turn your passion into concrete goals, set clear boundaries and outline your plan of action to achieve them.

“Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.”~ Steve Pavlina

Use your free time

Not everyone has an opportunity to pursue their hobbies full time. For many, time is a constraint to pursue what they really like to do because of their busy schedules. You can use your free hours effectively to pursue some new things that interests you, or explore new activities, pursuits that help you live passionately. Making time for your passion requires simplifying some of your daily tasks and schedules. Sometimes turning your passion into an obligation can also make you find time for it. Trade your free time for your activities that you are passionate about. They could be writing, or taking a hobby class, or engaging in any activity you love. This can leave you more energized and motivated in your monotonous lifestyle.

Overcome your ‘limiting self’

“ Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.” –Anonymous

To live with passion is to address your negative and limiting beliefs. Challenge your limiting self that worries about outside influences and allowing others to decide what’s best for you. Sometimes, we abandon our passions to fit in, or to follow rules or for being acceptable to others. Not following your passion because of your limiting self makes you unhappy, because you you might alwasys be comparing your situation with the ideal that is following your passion could be.  By making your decisions based on your authentic self can not only create a fulfillling life, but also makes you more self-aware, confident and more evolved.

Conclusion

What is your passion? Think about your own interesting pursuits. Things that you love to pursue. Think of what inspires you and what you have been wanting to do. Pursue things that brings true meaning and fulfilment whether it is in your work, or the job you do, or any other dimension of your life. Loving what you do can bring out the most authentic version of you, at work and in life. Follow the above strategies to create the space and time to invest in your passions. Align your passions with whatever you are doing to make your life more joyous and meaningful.

Related Links

https://sscascades.org/2019/01/05/reframe-your-limiting-beliefs/

https://sscascades.org/2018/10/08/how-to-stop-fearing-failure/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice being “in the zone”

“Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.”– Eckhart Tolle

“Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organisation, preparation, and action.” – David Kekich

Goals are vital part of life, both personal and professional. Goals are different for different people and so is stress in achieving them. To a mountaineer, stress is the challenge of pushing physical resources to the limit of striving to achieve a demanding goal. To a student, it is the challenge to perform well in examination and to executives it is to withstand the competition and ambition of climbing up the ladder. To others it may be addressing different situations from managing work, to family and children.

Because everyone is driven by their goals, stress becomes a major and inevitable problem for many. Being exposed to stress over longer periods of time and without the necessary coping mechanisms can result in burnout and a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. This further leads to feeling tired all the time, failure to meet the deadlines, inability to stick to your goals and experiences of phantom aches and pains. Your personal productivity can be affected if this stress is poorly managed.

Stress & goal-striving

Stress is the inability to cope with a real or imagined threat to your mental, physical and emotional well-being which results in a series of psychological responses and manifests into health issues. Stress occurs when one is driven by compulsion to achieve what you are expected to or want to achieve. In striving for your goals you compete with yourself or with others to compensate for what you believe is lacking. At some point, we become caricatures of who we think we should be as our lifestyles become more external and we are driven by others rather than by our judgement of what we truly need.

Stress and work pressure becomes inevitable and solution lies in active management of stress.

Stress-management & Being “in the zone”

It is important to realise that everything is not just about goal-striving. Doing your tasks in a good state of mind and with good health is more important. This can be achieved by being “ in the zone” with your tasks. In many aspects, managing your tasks to attain your goals is more concerned with fundamental issues of doing meaningful work, mindful living and psychological well-being. Being “in the zone” with your goals helps you organise, do outcome thinking, provides clarity, and thereby reduces stress.

Being “ in the zone”

If you are ‘in the zone’ with your goal, you get intrinsically motivated and perform your tasks without being stressed about an external reward. Those who all in zone experience less stress as they are clear about what to pay attention to and have a complete picture of their commitments.

Checking whether you are being ‘in the zone’ is a simple and systematic process and the process involves comprehended check of your present direction with reference to what you truly want. Willingness to introspect lets you rediscover yourself. This can help you in making choices which are in alignment with your goals. This can help you distinguish between those things that dissipate your energies and those that add up to help you build the life you want.

Take little time to ask yourself following:

What to achieve?

Majority of times, stress is caused by the following situations:

• You know what you want, and you don’t know how to get it; and/or

• You don’t know what you want.

Most of the times, we create and identify with things that aren’t yet real on all the levels we experience; and when we do, we recognise how to restructure our current efforts to that particular outcome. Once you know what to achieve, you begin to be ‘in the zone’ and will more or less do your task automatically. If you trust that something you will more or less do automatically will provide direction and reduces stress. Having clear goals help you make better decisions about what to pay attention to.

What’s your next line of action?

Plan your work. Creating a cause-&-effect link in your mind about your next action will result in clarity, productivity and empowerment. You can really define the right action when you know the outcome you are after. When you organise and make plans ahead of time and decide what actions will be carried out in which context, you will be able to bring your attention to the appropriate things at the right time. Identifying those things that need focused attention and planning your next action keeps your mind relaxed and in the zone.

Are you in flow ?

Flow is the state of optimal performance and engaging your attention in what you are doing. Focused attention intrinsically motivates you. It is necessary that your skills match the challenge at hand. If the challenge exceeds your requisite skill level, you will experience anxiety and if your skills exceed the challenge, you likely feel bored and your flow gets affected. Flow is the complete concentration on the given task. When you have clear goals in sight with the right skill set and concentration, your action merges with your awareness and will allow you to engage more fully in the task at hand and ensures forward engagement in your plan.

How to be “ in the zone”

• Focus on what is important. Break down your complex goals into smaller and manageable ones. Once you achieve the little, you can set your eyes on the whole. Always commit to realistic goals.

• Do not expect fast results and easy outcomes. This makes you stressed and irritable. Take a break if you feel like you are on the verge of losing your calm.

• Discipline yourself not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Accumulation of undone jobs take up room in the mind and limits your clarity and focus.

• Don’t compare. Remember to calibrate your goals based on your own skill set, intellect and aptitude.

• Do not look for external validation as it can cause discontentment. Your performance depends on your skill set and efficiency.

• Be organised and review your direction of what you are doing and check whether what you are achieving is what you truly want.

• Monitor your mental and emotional state through self-observation and meditation.

Conclusion

Little time spent on getting to know your authentic self and bringing yourself ‘in the zone’ with what you want to achieve helps you lessen your emotional baggage of fears, anxieties and limitations. Make a list of possible sources of stress and attend to the issues that are a source of stress at the current time and work towards managing it.

“Doing something that is productive is a great way to alleviate emotional stress. Get your mind doing something that is productive.”

– Ziggy Marley