10 simple practices for living with Integrity and discovering Peace

What exactly is integrity? You may ask. Most textbooks or dictionaries are not able to offer a definition that captures the essence of what it means to live with integrity. However, we can all recognize and identify with the symptoms of not doing so, for e.g.

  • Feeling bad about/with yourself (e.g. feelings of dissatisfaction, anger)
  • Feeling resentful about the world (e.g. bitterness, complaints)
  • Feeling bored and restless (i.e. that you are not living up to your potential or engaging in meaningful pursuits)

If you said a silent ‘oh, yes’ to any of the above and want to find a better way, here are 10 simple practices for you to start adopting. Disclaimer: simple does not mean easy.

1. Agreements. Honour your agreements – those you made with yourself and those you made to others. Each agreement broken or ignored is like a boomerang that will come back to haunt you; each agreement honoured is a boost of trust and confidence which will create ripple effects.

2. Mornings. Practise the sacred morning ritual – what is the one most important thing that you need to accomplish today for you to feel fulfilled? Do that early in the morning. Don’t spend your day doing a million other things and then go to bed feeling unfulfilled about the day.

3. Eliminate. Refuse to do the things that don’t matter.

4. Space. Find or create your own space, a space where you are free of distractions and can find peace or solace. Create that space physically in your environment and also internally for your mental, emotional or spiritual needs. This is important for your check-ins with yourself on whether you are doing the right things or on the right track.

5. Artist. Start paying attention to that repressed artist within! We are all artists and we are all creative. We all have unique talents that translate into creative expressions, be they in music, literature, artwork, food, etc. The sad thing is that we shelf these interests in response to ‘professional work’ and life. Start re-cultivating that artist by dedicating a little time each day to some form of creative work. You will be rewarded with joy and inspiration, from within.

6. Travel. You have probably heard many people sing the praises of travelling, and have also heard stories of how travelling has created personal transformations. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this. A friend has recently described the ability to travel as a ‘privilege’, in recognition of what a humbling and critical experience it is. It involves taking risks and stepping out of your comfort zone. You discover how small you are in this big world, and at the same time, you discover the limitless and astounding possibilities. If I may boldly assert – even if you have lived a long life, if you have not travelled, you do not know who you truly are.

7. Body. Take care of your body; it is the vehicle that will take you places, it is the temple that houses your energy. You are what you eat and you are what you do, so stop putting junk into your body, start feeding it with good food, move your body and get some real exercise. The fastest way to change your life is to start from the physical. By the way, do you know what the greatest enemy is that is holding us back from growth and from living an extraordinary life? It is not fear; it is laziness¹.

8. Nature. Be in nature, and if you live in a concrete jungle like I did when in Singapore, seek out pockets of nature regularly and make occasional trips to where you can access wide expanses of untouched nature. Personally, I have a penchant for the sea or mountains. This will renew you in ways that only nature can.

9. Relationships. Clean up your relationships, as a dear friend Douglas once shared. Think of a person X who has an important role or influence in your life. If (s)he should disappear from your life tomorrow, what are the unspoken things that are hanging between the both of you which you would regret not letting him know? Clean that up. Do the same for all those who matter to you, or for those who still have a piece of your mind. Make it a practice to express yourself authentically in your interactions with people. Doing so requires lots of courage and vulnerability, and the benefits are that you will find yourself walking around with much less baggage, much more freedom and much richer relationships.

10. Action. Get used to taking action! There will always be fears, doubts, and feelings of laziness. Get used to living with them and do what needs to be done.

Best of luck 😉

With love,
Hui Min

¹With reference to the section ‘Entropy and Original Sin’ in The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck.

Here's a photo taken during a recent walk in the neighbourhood, a picture of peace to share with you :)

Here’s a photo taken during a recent walk in the neighbourhood, a picture of peace to share with you 🙂

Living with Integrity – Are you choosing what’s important to you?

Have you ever done or not done something and then felt upset with yourself about it? Did you make a note to yourself that you will choose differently the next time round, only to repeat the same pattern, feel lousy about yourself… entering into a cycle of feeling bad and making choices that you know you will feel bad about later on?

I definitely have. If that sounds familiar, welcome to the world of Integrity.

Integrity as a word has been in my vocabulary since I was young, and I knew it to be in the family of words like honesty and truthfulness. It was only in the last 2 years that I began to experience and understand the essence of the word. As much as it is related to our interactions with other people and the world, it is really about our relationship with ourselves. The word stems from the Latin word integer (whole, complete) and refers to the inner sense of “wholeness” that results from acting in consistency and congruency with our highest values and principles.

For many of us, however, we find it challenging to ascertain whether we are living with integrity as we don’t even know what we truly value, to begin with. That’s why we have these wonderful things called feelings and emotions. They are like the signals on your car dashboard to tell you that something is wrong inside.  Each time you compromise on what is truly important to you, e.g. in a moment of mis-choice or in an attempt to fit in with your environment, you feel a sense of dissatisfaction nagging at you. For some, it shows up as frustration and anger toward self. Feelings are essentially a call for action, and the more you ignore or snuff them out, the stronger they show up later, in different ways.

***
I thought I knew my values, until an insight yesterday which gave me a deeper distinction.

I have consistently been working on incorporating habits and making changes that I believe will make me a better person mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of these include

  • Fulfilling a childhood dream (which I will write about in a later post)
  • Starting a project that involves marrying my strengths and passion to design a work and career that I love (this, I may possibly write about too)
  • Doing my yoga practice every morning upon waking up

In the last few days, I have also started to make changes to my diet in response to research findings on a skin allergic reaction that involves cutting down on dairy and wheat products. These changes have reflected positive impacts for my skin and body – skin acne recover, I feel lighter, less sluggish, have more energy and get better sleep. Of course, this is complemented by a few other lifestyle changes.

There were some sandwiches and candies available in the office kitchen yesterday from an event in the morning, and I found myself eating the cheese-filled wheat bread for lunch, with a grand finale of a piece of milk chocolate for dessert (Think dairy + wheat combo). Later, I wondered what made me choose to eat that, and to save for dinner the food which I had initially prepared for lunch.

I then realized that this is just one small incident that reflects something else that has been consistently playing out in my life – the war between 3 dominant resources: Energy, time and money. In this particular example, as with many other decisions I have made before, I have compromised on my health and energy in an attempt to ‘save’ time and money. For example,

  • Working till late and going to bed later than I had wished to, not getting enough rest
  • Skipping yoga on some mornings in exchange for extra time in the office
  • Buying processed food, some of are cheaper than the whole foods

Consciously, I would place health and energy as the top of these priorities, but subconsciously, I have been acting in ways that are incongruent with that value and ideal. It was so liberating to lay these 3 resources out in front of me and to see how I have been relating to them my whole life!

Today, in my moment-to-moment decisions, I am making a conscious effort to choose Energy.

***

Each of us has quite a few things that we value, some of them potentially in conflict with each other. For example, I value interpersonal relationships, and I also need a decent amount of personal time and space. I have said ‘yes’ to gatherings after gatherings, and ended up regretting it when I realize that I do not have enough time for my personal well-being or to complete some projects that I have promised myself. I have also readily given up me-time so as to fit in with others, only to feel upset about it later on.

Of course, this does not mean that you should expect the whole world to accede to your demands. It means to know your boundaries – which are the ones that you can compromise on, and which are the ones that you absolutely need to stand by? I have learnt that integrity, boundaries and assertiveness are good friends. Add in an elegant sense of balance, and you’re ready to surf the waves of your internal world and external environment!

How do we, on a moment to moment basis, make choices that bring us happiness, peace and satisfaction?

P.S. Check out Brian Johnson’s great video +1 or -1? (3mins)