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