Tell the truth if you want to feel good about yourself

Telling porky pies is bad for your mental health and can make you feel miserable about yourself. Start telling the truth – and that means no little white lies, either – and your mind, body and spirit will thank you for it.

Taking off the mask and telling fewer lies boosts wellbeing. (pic: istockphoto.com/chuvipro)

The ‘Science of Honesty’ study carried out by researchers from Notre Dame University found that telling lies had more negative health effects on people and their relationships. In a 10-week study, participants who were told to tell fewer lies found they had fewer mental health issues, such as tension or melancholy, and fewer physical complaints such as sore throats and headaches. They also reported that their personal relationships and social interactions had improved.

“Recent evidence indicates that Americans average about 11 lies per week. We wanted to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health,” said lead author Anita E. Kelly, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame. “We found that the participants could purposefully and dramatically reduce their everyday lies, and that in turn was associated with significantly improved health.”

I think these findings show the psychological pressure that people put themselves under when they tell lies to other people – and to themselves. People tell lies to maintain their persona – the ‘mask’ they present to the world – in the belief that it’s more socially acceptable to behave in this way. Often, people will lie if they don’t want to hurt the other person, or because it would save them stress and hassle from being open and honest. Yet, when they choose to be true to their feelings and thoughts, it’s like a weight off their mind. Not to mention the fact that they don’t need to have an amazing memory to keep track of the lies they’ve told.

Kelly added: “Participants in the honesty study said they realised they could simply tell the truth about their daily accomplishments rather than exaggerate, while others said they stopped making false excuses for being late or failing to complete tasks. Others said they learned to avoid lying by responding to a troubling question with another question to distract the person.”

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