Little White Lies Don’t Make You Happier

The truth hurts: Lying isn’t helpful

We’ve all told someone that their outfit looks good when it doesn’t, invented scheduling conflicts instead of just saying no, or made up a reason for being late/taking a long lunch/sneaking out of somewhere early. They aren’t hurting others, but are these little white lies really hurting YOUR happiness? More and more research says yes: lying hurts your health, wellness, and relationships. Read on for the latest.

Emotional, physical, and mental truth

According to a recent study, participants striving for honesty had four fewer emotional problems and three fewer physical ailments on average weekly than the control group  While the average person tells one or two lies daily, the study shows how dramatically we can control and reduce untruthfulness, increasing overall happiness.

Truthfulness can directly influence your mental health as well: in one Rush University Medical Center test, those whose personality tests categorized them as most “conscientious” enjoyed a 90% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. For more: Fib Less Feel Better.

Workplace Truth

93% of respondents out of forty thousand Americans admitted to lying “regularly and habitually in the workplace.” People from the community lie once in every five conversations and college students lie once in every three interactions. Other research shows we’re more truthful at home than we are at work. What do all these lies mean? As we become better at creating false justifications, our understanding of the line between right and wrong begins to shift or blur, and we allow lies to become a regular part of our lives. For more: Three Shocking Truths About Lying at Work

Morality and Lying

These “everyday” lies often stem from the notion that “everyone is doing it.” Everyone cheats a little

In a study testing cheating, the group tasked with recalling 10 books demonstrated typical widespread but moderate cheating. But the group asked to recall the Ten Commandments showed no cheating whatsoever. The experiment was repeated with students remembering their honor codes and self-declared atheists swearing on a Bible, with the same no-cheating results.

“While ethics lectures and training seem to have little to no effect on people, reminders of morality—right at the point where people are making a decision—appear to have an outsize effect on behavior.” For more: Wall Street Journal

What does this mean to you? Your morality can feed your overall health and happiness. So next time you’re tempted to tell a little white lie, perhaps you can stop and remember this hard truth: nothing but the truth.

Category: Psych


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