Honor is defined as “having high respect, great esteem, adhering to right standard conduct, fulfilling an obligation or keeping an agreement.”
My Test Of Honor Began With Dinner
My husband’s birthday is in early January, right on the heels of the holiday season. Just when you think the holidays are over, you gotta muster up just a little more party energy to celebrate. This year I gave into post holiday/pandemic fatigue and ordered his favorite take out… Indian food. And I padded the order, ostensibly to celebrate, but really to get out of cooking for a few more nights, so it was expensive!
Next, I poured some wine and sat down with the family to play Scattegories. An hour went by and there was no food. Enjoying my wine buzz, I could still hear my belly rumble and another half hour later the kids were legit hangry. So I called the delivery service, who advised us that the order was delivered to a different address down the block. Apologetically, they credited us a full refund.
I Made The Honest Choice
As I tried to figure out what to rustle up, my husband took a walk and found the food in front of a house at the end of our cul-de-sac. Confirming with the neighbors that they did not also have the brilliant idea to order from Taste of India on a Sunday at 8pm, he brought the feast home.
My kids were like, “Awesome, free dinner!” Ah… hullo. Really!? I mean growing up in my house back in the 80s, where embarrassingly my dad got a kick out of “chewing and screwing” every now and then, I would get it. But these kids were raised by me and more specifically, my husband, who is as classy and upstanding as they come.
I was so hungry at this point, I just wanted to join them in their revelry and chow down, but I didn’t. I took the pause to call the delivery service, and tried to re-pay for our food. And guess what? They couldn’t charge me?! So we were gifted our dinner after all. It still didn’t feel right. I beat myself up a little for so impulsively requesting a refund, but then let it go. And secretly, I felt just a little proud of the honest woman I have become.
I Was Not Always Honorable
As a teen, I would have been as psyched as my kids were for the free dinner. And I was even the type to tell all my friends how we could con this food delivery service and eat for free for years to come! I am not proud of this, but that is how I was.
I sometimes took things that didn’t belong to me, I said yes when I wanted to say no then blew people off at the last minute. I might even be nice to your face then gossip about you behind your back. At the time, I really thought this was normal teen behavior, but I now know I had a questionable character. I felt alive causing a little drama and got a rush from risky behavior.
Why? My suspicion, I had something of a magical dad. The same guy who occasionally liked to “chew and screw” used to read us Charlie Brown with a sprinkling of four letter words, egg houses with us on halloween, and let us sit on his lap and steer the car while he had his foot on the gas.
I think he made me feel like I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. I am happy to report, I grew up and in doing so, developed a conscience. These days I get the rush from doing the right thing, from having honor and integrity.
“No Person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”
What Does Honor Mean To You?
Honor is defined as “having high respect, great esteem, adhering to right standard conduct, fulfilling an obligation or keeping an agreement.” This could mean many things to many people.
- Do you show everyone the same respect and great esteem or just those in positions of power?
Right standard of conduct will be very different for a person raised in a strict christian household versus a person raised with hippie parents, where free love, flowy skirts, and incense rule the day.
Also keeping agreements… I remember sitting with a friend a few years ago. We were laughing, chatting and catching up when she casually said of her husband, “Jeff is a great first husband.” At first, I was taken aback then I exhaled and laughed out loud. I loved the freedom she felt to be okay with it not working out. It was revelatory. Leaving a marriage was just not in my lexicon. I was raised: you get married and you stay. If you’re miserable, go clean your closet, smile, and go help your neighbor.
Honor and Integrity Go Hand In Hand.
Integrity is defined as living in accordance with your deepest values, being honest with everyone, and always keeping your word.
- What are your values?
That is a big broad question. You get to decide. Most values are internalized from childhood, religion, culture, peer group and/or deep soul searching. And they will evolve over time as we grow, have new experiences, and hopefully, mature;)
- How honest are you?
- Are you cool with telling white lies or will the guilt eat at you?
- How well do you keep your word?
- Do you do what you say you will do no matter what or are you perfectly comfortable changing plans at the first sign of rain?
One of my favorite questions about honor and integrity:
- Do you do the right thing when no one is watching?
If you are seeking a greater sense of honor and integrity in your life or just want to explore your own values and how you are showing up, it might help to take inventory. Here is a journaling exercise with some thought provoking questions.
Honor and Integrity Inventory Questions in 9 Key Areas:
1. Your Love Relationship
- Are you loving how you want to be loved?
- Are you accepting your partner for who he/she is or are you trying to change him/her to meet your needs?
- Are you honest?
- Are you all in?
2. Your Career
- Are you on time?
- Do you do your best at work or are you just getting by?
- Are you kind to your co-workers?
- Are you respectful of your boss?
- Do you like your job and if not are you taking steps to move into a career you would love?
3. Your Family:
- Are you present?
- Do you take the time to listen and connect with your family members emotionally?
- Are you letting them be who they are or do you have an agenda for them?
- Are you too controlling or critical?
- Are you a good role model?
4. Your Friendships:
- Do you show up in good times and bad?
- Do you do what you say you will do?
- Can you listen without judging or giving advice unless asked?
- Are your friendships reciprocal?
- Can you dare to be vulnerable?
- Are you trustworthy?
5. Your Spiritual Life:
- What do you believe in?
- Do you have a place of worship or a personal relationship with something greater than yourself?
- How often do you check in with your intuition?
- Are you in integrity with yourself in terms of your values, dreams, goals and life purpose?
6. Your Mental Health:
- Are you harboring resentments or secrets that are holding you back?
- Are you stuck in addictions, behaviors or thinking patterns that are destructive?
- If so, are you getting help in these areas?
- Are you setting boundaries, being true to yourself and practicing self care?
7. Your Physical Health:
- Are you in good shape?
- Are you eating well? Exercising?
- Do you feel good in your body, energetic, clear headed, and strong?
- If not, what steps can you take to move in the right direction?
8. Your Finances:
- Are you accountable with saving, paying bills on time and occasionally treating yourself?
- Do you feel like you are preparing for your future or do you have your head in the sand hoping something changes?
9. Your Role in Community:
- Are you involved in causes you care about?
- Do you take an active role in the groups you are involved in or do you rely on others to pick up the slack?
- Do you treat your neighbors with kindness?
- Do you care about the earth?
- Do you respect Institutions, places of business, public property?
While these exploratory questions will enhance self knowledge and facilitate positive change, a super quick, cut through the bs exercise to get into place of honor and integrity in your life is to write your own eulogy. I know it is not fun to contemplate our own death, but it is very powerful. In doing so, we are reminded to live with more presence, authenticity and courage.
How would you want to be remembered in these 9 areas of your life?
This will be your legacy.
In writing this out, you can’t help but live into more of the person you want to be.
Being a Person of Honor and Integrity is a Choice
Some people love getting away with stuff. Some are perpetual victims, feeling the world owes them something. Others are convinced they know what’s wrong with everyone else and never take a good look at themselves.
Though I haven’t had this mentality since adolescence, I can honestly say my worst days being a person of honor and integrity are better than my best days living with abandon. I think it’s because when you live that way you are running, you are full of self justification and rationalization, and you are constantly putting out fires of your own making. You never have a minute to go within, ask the questions, get to know yourself and take agency over the person you want to be in this life. When you do these things, you can feel pride and love when you look in the mirror. For staring back at you is a person you would want as a friend.
I hope the exercises in this article help you do just that!
How to Rethink Your Feelings
“We’ve all heard the phrase, “Fear is an illusion” and I intellectually get that that’s true, but boy, those fearful feelings can certainly feel real…real enough to prevent me from truly enjoying life. Feelings of fear can also seem real…”
Amy McLaughlin-Margolis, LCSW
Amy is a wife and mom to three humans and two animals! Hailing from Boston and NYC, Amy is a SoCal transplant. And though she misses her big Irish family, she is incredibly grateful come January when she is taking long walks in the sunshine and her cousins are calling her about a wicked cold Nor’easta! Amy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Co-Founder/Director of Santa Monica Counseling. She specializes in treating eating disorders, addictions, anxiety, depression, codependency and adoption-related issues. Amy is also a Meisner and Groundlings trained actor, who has spent the majority of her career doing Voice Over work for animation and commercials and recently optioned her first animated series. Amy is excited to be contributing to insidewink, a site she finds so inspiring. She hopes to be a worthy contribution!
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