In the small matters trust your mind; in the large ones, the heart.
What is integrity? Integrity isn’t something you pull off the shelf, or out of a safe, when times are difficult. Integrity is a unifying way of being. It is what integrates all the aspects of better living. I see it as a golden thread in the whole cloth of my life.
As you read in the first post, I’ve taken my fancy with the Better Living Center at the Big E to serve as the metaphor for this series. What has kept that building standing all these years is the fact that it was built with integrity. Assembled properly, and with a deep foundation, girded with steel beams, interlocked with the strength of the bricks and mortar and the load bearing walls, the building has stood the test of time. It doesn’t need to be propped-up, it just needs to be maintained. And, the same can be said for your better living center, too.
The steps you’ve followed, from surveying your “site,” to clearing out the past to have a present focus, then addressing needs, eliminating tolerations, declaring your standards and building your boundaries were required steps to assure the integrity of your better living system.
What is the benefit of integrity for better living? Imagine it as a custom designed seat in the cockpit of your life. You are comfortably and effortlessly aware of what is going on in, because you can see it all! With integrity for better living:
• You have the ability to respond, not react, to what happens
• You have a clarity of perspective
• There are fewer problems
• You feel at ease
• You enjoy the freedom of choice
It’s the integrity benefit of “being at choice” that is most exciting. It allows you to evolve beyond choosing to respond, or not. With true integrity, you are able to choose HOW to respond, too! Many cultures, including American culture, promote a compartmentalized view of life. For example, an expectation that you only use your brain at work, and save emotions (your heart) for what is going on at home. It is unrealistic, it is unhealthy, and it is exhausting. Better living requires that you integrate all of your dimensions—heart, mind, body and soul. Then you can fully arrive wherever you go, and CHOOSE how to respond.
How does this apply to you? Have YOU compartmentalized your heart from you head? How would your life be different if you checked in with all of yourself? Do you ever have a “gut reaction?” Do you ignore it? Why? Your body may be trying to tell you something that your head doesn’t want to address.
Create the opportunity for greater integrity in your better living center. Rather than using your mind to have the last say in all your decisions, allow yourself to “check in” with heart, with your body, and with your soul as well.
Select a few of the following activities to expand your use of yourself from “just” your head, or “just” your heart, to see where else you can derive wisdom for better living:
• Write in a journal, seeking to address thoughts, feelings and sensations
• Practice meditation
• Discuss what you’re learning with a caring other
• Adopt a new physical activity, and let your mind wander in this kinesthetic experience
By reinforcing your awareness that your dimensions of heart, mind body and soul are integrated to support your better living, you will expand your ability to benefit from all of your dimensions.
Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D.