The Holy Grail of Honesty: The Useful Truthful

There's a reason we laugh so hard at Jim Carrey in Liar Liar and Ricky Gervais in The Invention of Lying.

by Brian Curtis, Ph.D.

The Middle Path Between Lying and Brutal Honesty

Taking honesty to its Kantian conclusion is hilarious.

There's a reason we laugh so hard at Jim Carrey in Liar Liar and Ricky Gervais in The Invention of Lying.

Is there a sweet spot between lying and brutal honesty? A middle path between dishonesty on one hand and uncritically broadcasting whatever truthful thought  comes to mind on the other? Communication that's truthful and useful?

The Experiment: 

Recognize those moments when you're tempted towards dishonesty. The moment you're tempted to be untruthful, possibly to spare the feelings of others (a white lie) or maybe to avoid the momentary discomfort that may come from sharing what you actually believe. Perhaps an interaction when you feel that you're the better judge of what information another person can handle.

If white lies are a pattern in your life, how has this impacted your relationships, your sense of living an authentic life, and how you might obligate yourself to behave in the future?

Question 1: Is this truthful? 

Once you recognize the urge to be untruthful, perhaps to tell a white lie, stop. Take a moment. Perhaps only a few seconds. Consider what you actually believe to be true.

Question 2: Is this useful?

Next, consider whether communicating what you believe to be true is likely to be useful for yourself and others. What's your goal, your intent, in sharing this information? Critically, what are the various ways to communicate what you believe that might increase (or decrease) the likelihood that this information will be helpful? 

Rather than dishonesty, or a white lie, we tell a useful-truthful. We take the risk of being skillfully authentic and seeing what happens to our relationships with others and ourselves.

How might your life change by adopting this new way of being?

Ideally, we won't become Jim Carrey or Ricky Gervais on the big screen. This isn't Liar Liar or The Invention of Lying.

This is Experimental Honesty.

Honesty in Your Inbox

After you download the app, deepen your practice by joining the Experimental Honesty email list. Continue building an honest, open, authentic life from your inbox.

Download Experimental Honesty on Google Play. Download Experimental Honesty on the App Store.