By Nhat Quan
Often people talk about how to live with the people around you, such as how to behave in family, in society, with neighbors, at work, in public places. ... But few people say, or pay attention to how to live to be considered honest with themselves. But actually, this is the foundation to start an honest way of life with your loved ones, and with the whole human community.
This idea is actually nothing new but has been around for a long time. Your oblivion is a loss to yourself, for you cannot see the true self and your blessings as thoroughly as they really are.
Talk about being honest with yourself, first of all about cultivating yourself. Nowadays, you learn a lot, but it seems that people don't care as much about cultivation these days as they used to. Therefore, there are many degrees and knowledge, it is impossible to count them all, but it is difficult to find a person whose style is worthy of admiration and learning!
Equipping yourself with knowledge is a necessity in this day and age when knowledge has become one of the essential elements to earning a living. However, having a wide knowledge does not mean being a really good person. The ancients often distinguished two factors of talent and virtue to make a perfect human being. Talent can be acquired to some extent, but virtue can only be acquired by knowing how to cultivate the body. Even if you read hundreds or thousands of books and don't know or don't care about self-cultivation, you still can't become a full-fledged virtuous person.
The word practice means to correct. Correction here is correcting the wrong things. If you were born not knowing, you can learn to know, but if you want to improve yourself, the only way is by training your own awareness, taking responsibility, and correcting yourself. Because most of you were born imperfect, making mistakes all the time. But at the same time, you also have the ability to correct and correct mistakes to get better and better. That's how important the practice of self-cultivation is.
The question is, what does self-cultivation have to do with being honest with yourself?
Self-cultivation is also a way to live honestly with yourself. When you treat others well, you make them happy. In return, you will also receive affection or respect. Improving yourself to become better is the most effective way to bring joy to yourself, while also eliminating inferiority or guilt. If your self-improvement is done effectively, you also develop a legitimate sense of pride in yourself. Understood in this way, self-improvement is clearly one of the ways, to be honest with yourself.
In other words, living honestly with yourself means living how to improve yourself more and more, bringing joy to life and an upward and honest soul. Only when you yourself have an upward lifestyle and have a joyful and healthy soul, can you truly become an honest person in the middle of life.
From realizing the importance of self-improvement, and building your own inner joy, you can see many ways to get there. Each person may have different environments and circumstances, so there will also be different ways to apply. As a general rule, however, you can still agree on some of the basics of these methods.
1- Protect Your Own Health.
No one loves you more than yourself, so it makes sense to take care of your own health. In the past, you often thought that maintaining and exercising health was for the benefit of yourself, your family, and society. It is always easy to see these benefits without having to be pointed out because they are always evident in your daily life. However, you rarely think of maintaining and practicing health as a responsibility, an obligation, or an honest practice for yourself.
Why say that keeping and exercising is an honest way of life for yourself?
Indeed, you cannot enjoy life and do nothing if you yourself are not healthy, and in good health conditions. And if that is clearly the basic foundation to bring you a happy life, so that you can do many meaningful things, then you have a responsibility to preserve and protect it.
If you really want to be an honest person, and at the same time you want to have a happy life, then you have to know how to be honest with yourself and change this perception first. See staying healthy and exercising as a responsibility, rather than just a thing to do.
You are a person of will, capable of fully realizing and regulating all your behaviors. This is an advantage, but if you do not have the right perception, it is also easy to fall into the position of going against your natural instincts. You were often easy to see the immediate benefits of overwork, without looking beyond the detriment of worn-out health.
When you force others to work too hard for you, you will be criticized, or even opposed. But when you exhaust yourself, you don't listen to your own objections. You only know how to be nice to people, but you can't live nice to yourself. The way to live honestly with yourself is to listen to your own health voice.
2- Trying to Fix Mistakes
When a human is born, no one is perfect. And making mistakes is almost a natural thing for anyone. There are mistakes that bring about remedial consequences, there are also serious mistakes whose consequences last for a long time or forever. The person making the mistake himself needs to be aware of the extent of the mistake, and work to correct it so that it doesn't happen again. If you have encountered such a mistake, and have also managed to overcome it, then you need to forgive yourself without needing to let guilt weigh on your life.
Every time you make a mistake, you often think about that mistake, and if it leads to certain damage to yourself or those around you, you feel even more frustrated. Self-blame is the first essential element of self-improvement. The problem is that you are often too hard on yourself. If you think about it for yourself, you'll sometimes find that there are plenty of situations where that doesn't really help.
A very successful businessman was asked the secret to his success and he said:
- I make a lot of mistakes, but I never make any mistakes a second time.
Truly, an extraordinary person and well-deserved to succeed. I myself am not like that. Many of you are not like that either. You often make the same mistake five or seven times, even dozens or more times before you can get rid of it forever. However, the problem is that you are self-aware of the mistake and determined to correct it. Don't ask yourself what you are not capable of. Because that only makes your soul become heavier and heavier and lose the joy of living.
That said, it's not like you accept the easy way and then let yourself go. What I want to say here is, if you have sincerely admitted your mistake and tried to fix it, even though it may not be possible to fix it right away a few times, be willing to forgive yourself, just like you already are willing to forgive others.
In dealing with others, you often try to be able to show your tolerance, and generosity, even more than it really is. And indeed that is a beautiful way to behave because it brings more harmony and unity to the community. But when it comes to judging yourself, you don't hold the same way of thinking.
If you want to be an honest person to beautify your life, first be honest with yourself. Show it by being tolerant and generous with yourself. Do your best to correct the mistake, but don't be too harsh on yourself than necessary.
3- Righteous greed
Greed is one of the human instincts. Right from infancy, right out of your mother's womb, you've had simple, natural instinctive desires to survive. Growing up, you have more and more desires. And unfortunately, your instincts don't distinguish between positive and negative desires on their own. You need to learn, need certain knowledge, and a correct perception to be able to distinguish them. When you have solid knowledge, it is not difficult to distinguish your own desires. Because in your mundane life, not all desires are the same or have the same effect. There are desires that help you to grow better and better, but there are desires that only drag you deeper into squalor. The desire for knowledge, reputation, and even material possessions in a legitimate way... can be considered positive motivations. Desire to drink, gamble, play too much... can be considered as the causes of corruption. I'm not doing the categorization here, but I'm just covering it in a general way so you can see the difference between these two different types of desires.
On the other hand, there are desires that are positive to some extent but become negative when their appropriate limits are exceeded. Thus, in addition to distinguishing between positive and negative desires, you also need to control your desires to an appropriate degree.
It can be said that most of you have instinctive desires, but you can only control lust through your own efforts. No one naturally has that ability, but needs to study, practice, and even cultivate to be able to achieve it.
The ancients used to say:
- Conquering yourself is the most glorious victory.
Winning over others is wisdom, and winning against yourself is strong. To conquer desire is to conquer oneself. Only by controlling your desires can you open the door to a happy life.
If righteous desires can motivate you to live on, then negative desires are the direct and indirect cause of most of life's suffering. Buddhism teaches that desire is the source of suffering. In this mundane life, you naturally accept a certain amount of suffering, but most of your suffering can be reduced if you know how to control your desires.
A lot of times you have enough knowledge to see which desires need to be relinquished, but more importantly, harder to do is to have the willpower to give them up. Although not easy, this is really doable, if you have enough determination and will. Of course, outside support is also very important, but your own efforts are a very commendable example of effort.
Lust hurts you in many ways. Often you have to struggle to follow your desires, when actual necessities may not be necessary. Moreover, once you do not achieve what you want, you yourself fall into misery and torment. Life is inherently full of beautiful things, but once you have surrendered to your desires, you often no longer have the ability to feel those beautiful things.
Letting go of your desires is like a gardener letting the weeds destroy your crops. In the same way, if you follow irrational desires, all your good qualities will not have the conditions to develop. If such a gardener is irresponsible. Similarly, if you do not control your own desires, you are not being honest with yourself.
          4- Be honest with yourself
When you often lie to others, of course you yourself know this bad habit, sooner or later someone will remind you. But if you lie to yourself, sometimes it's hard to recognize, and there's no one to remind you. Therefore, it easily becomes a bad habit deeply rooted in the bone marrow.
You rarely admit to your true limitations. If you fail, there are usually a lot of reasons that are immediately given to prove that you can do it, just because of this, that should only fail. If this happens for the first time, you can tell yourself that you are lying, and just hope that others believe it so you won't be blamed. But the longer it becomes a habit, the less shy or embarrassed you will be. Anyone who forms such a bad habit has erased your own upward path. It will be very difficult for you to admit your mistakes and correct them.
Nothing is more important than the joy of living naturally if you have ever known what a happy life is. The reasons that motivate you to form the habit of hiding your true mood, at times are really worth the cost of the harm they bring. Many psychologists still recommend revealing all of your emotions, rather than hiding them.
If you want to have an honest lifestyle, first live beautifully, live honestly with yourself. You may not be perfect in many ways, but just being true to yourself is always a good start to perfection.
5- Take Some Time For Yourself
You are often attracted to the requirements of work, the essential needs of your family, yourself... And what you achieve is never equal to or more than what you want. Therefore, you have to constantly try and try... Not only is the effort to work harder, more productive, but it also usually takes more time.
Under such conditions, you rarely think about yourself. But actually, as a human, you cannot maintain your physical and mental conditions forever without a reasonable recovery after a certain period of work. So, if you think it's beneficial to cut off time for yourself, you're wrong.
Taking time for yourself is not just limited to resting, but has many other deeper meanings. Westerners have a saying:
- Rest while you are not tired.
You can compare to see the difference here. You work hard, after all, just aim for a happy and joyful life for yourself and for those around you. But the material gains that you achieve by selfless labor are often just for you, but not enough for a happy life. To have a happy life, you also need to know how to live. And one of the signs of being alive is knowing how to make time for yourself. This is actually reasonable, fair, and necessary.
Taking time for yourself is not just for rest, but you need to see it as a reasonable and fair need that you must give if you want to live honestly with yourself.
With your specific time budget, set aside a reasonable amount of time for yourself. And since it's a reasonable and fair need for yourself, you're never allowed to give any excuses to take that time away.
Time for yourself to restore physical as well as mental capacity. Therefore, you can spend it on rest, entertaining as you like, and sometimes doing nothing at all.
You can also cleverly spend time for yourself in ways that don't take too much time at work. In the afternoon, on your way home from work, you might stop at a suitably secluded spot. Or maybe it's when you're almost home and spend about five or three minutes admiring the beauty of nature or simply doing the end of the day on a street. Let go of all worries and thoughts at that moment, and smile at yourself for getting through the day with all the difficulties and busyness. It only takes a few minutes, but your mood when you walk home will change a lot in a more positive direction.
In the morning, too, before going to the office to start working for the day, you do the same thing. Just practice this habit for a short time, and you will find you are not wasting any time at all.
How you use the time for yourself is up to each person's unique circumstances and creative use. However, taking some time for yourself is an honest way of living for yourself, a sensible thing to do.
6- Daily food
Food is one of the most important things in life. It is a nutritional requirement for the body to survive. The English have an aphorism that says:
- You are what you have been eating.
In Eastern cultures, eating also plays an important role. Even in traditional medicine, food and drink are considered as one of the factors that cause disease or can also be used to treat diseases.
Many foods that are harmful to health are still regularly used by you. It's not fair to you to do so, because your body deserves proper attention, even more so than you normally give others. If you wait until your body actually has to protest, it will be too late.
When you do not choose the right food and drink, you torture your body often, because your body has to fight many toxins or difficult-to-digest, unsuitable foods. Even a lack of moderation in eating, too much or too little, too early or too late, are punishments that your body has to silently endure.
Therefore, you must have a minimum knowledge of eating and proper interest in your own eating. That is one of the essentials when you want to be honest with yourself.
Understanding the benefits of each food and drink is not easy, but you can learn to know it, and also get help and guidance from many others such as:
- Doctors, nutritionists, even through books...
But the right awareness of the importance of the problem will play a more important, essential role. Because only then can you seriously consider taking care of your own food and drink as a necessity.
In short, when it comes to being honest with yourself, perhaps some people might consider it a somewhat unusual concept. However, through some of the typical problems that I have just suggested, perhaps the concept is no longer so abstract or difficult to understand. Because, if you can't be honest with yourself, how can you be honest with others?
In fact, being honest with yourself is something very close and practical in everyday life. But it is because it is so common that sometimes you often forget. Even so, their importance is undeniable, as you have seen when looking through each issue.
When you know how to live honestly with yourself, you care about treating yourself fairly and rationally, forming and protecting the best health and mental conditions. This makes an indispensable premise for a beautiful lifestyle and an honest way of dealing with each other in life.
On the contrary, a selfish lifestyle is formed on the idea of ​​only knowing how to mistreat yourself, which often means thinking a lot about enjoyment but is not necessarily healthy and good. Selfish people sometimes still torture themselves because of ignorance, and of course, can not live honestly with anyone else in life.
Living honestly with yourself, therefore, is both a starting point and an indispensable condition for forming a beautiful lifestyle in the middle of life.
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