Act with Integrity

* An excerpt from CALM

If you commit a breach of integrity, take action to fix it if you can.

Shannon Barks, a friend of mine, received a hot-air popcorn maker as a wedding present from her aunt. Since this aunt was a particularly close family member, the new bride wondered, why would my aunt give me a popcorn maker as a wedding gift? Not wanting to seem ungrateful or to hurt her aunt’s feelings, Shannon sent a very flattering thank-you note. It said, “Thank you so much for the popcorn maker. We use it all the time.” She mailed the note to her aunt and put the unopened box in a kitchen cupboard.

A year after the wedding, Shannon stumbled across the long-forgotten popcorn maker while cleaning out her kitchen cupboards. She smiled and once again wondered why on earth her aunt had chosen this as her wedding gift. She took the box out of the cupboard and opened it. Her jaw dropped in disbelief as she discovered the most beautiful bone china teacups she had ever seen.

Is there a moral to this story? There are two. The first is to always challenge your assumptions. Had Shannon challenged her assumption that a popcorn maker was in the popcorn maker box, she would have opened the box and discovered the real gift. As a result, she wouldn’t have found herself in this predicament. The second moral is that even seemingly harmless breaches of integrity—like a little white lie—can cause an enormous amount of worry. Imagining what her aunt must have thought—after receiving a thank-you note expressing gratitude for a popcorn maker that was neither received nor used—certainly made my friend worry!

Compromising your integrity is a surefire way to create unnecessary worry for yourself. Yet, like every other person on this planet, you’re human and will make mistakes. Even with the best of intentions, at one time or another, you may commit a breach of integrity.

If you’ve had a breach of integrity, instead of worrying about what has already been done, take action to fix it if you can. If you’re unable to fix it, ask yourself: What did I learn from this? What will I do differently next time? Learning from our mistakes helps us to avoid repeating them in the future. In addition, when we learn from our experiences, we can take comfort in knowing that, at the very least, our mistakes haven’t been made in vain.

Create your own definition of integrity as one of your next action plan steps. Allow your personal definition to act as a compass, guiding you in the direction of worry-free living. If you’ve already compromised your integrity, take action to fix it if you can. A little creative repair work can go a long way to calming a worried mind.