Are you a Liar? Why the truth will make you happy

Let’s talk about lying and what it can do for you!

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

We are all lying — all the time! I bet you are lying all the time as well, but haven’t realized it, have you? All that lying is bringing more damage to your life and the life of others than you think. 

I stopped lying for 30 days. Or to be honest, I tried to stop lying for 30 days and didn’t succeed completely but I learned a ton during that time. 

When I was younger I thought it was ok to lie, as long as it didn’t hurt anyone. I actually practiced what I saw as “The art of lying”. I was pretty hung up on the idea of how you could tell great lies by being as close to the truth as possible. Like many teenagers, I lied to my parents about smoking, drinking and what time I got home from parties. 

But I also lied to friends. I exaggerated stories of how gorgeous the girl I was dating was or how amazing the sex had been. I lied to one friend when I didn’t want to see him in favor of another friend. Or I lied to a girlfriend when breaking up with her. I even lied to two girlfriends, once, when I tried to date them both at the same time (That failed miserably, by the way, they both dumped me and I so deserved that). 

“It is so much easier to smooth out a situation with a white lie than it is to be direct, upfront or honest”

Sam Harris

All the way through I thought it was ok to lie and that I wasn’t hurting anyone, especially myself. But I was. I learned about the importance of being able to trust my friends. Trust what they said was actually the truth. When you are not telling the truth, your friends will start to lose trust in you. They may not trust you when it counts. And when you are lying you actually lose trust in others, because you believe they are lying just as much as yourself.

“The moment we consider our dishonesty from the perspective of those we lie to, we recognize that we would feel betrayed if the roles were reversed.”

Sam Harris

I wasn’t the only one lying. I had a friend who was very casual with the truth. He was a fantastic storyteller and always had a great experience to share. At first, we all thought he was a man of the world! He had traveled to all the most exciting places on earth. He had dived in Australia at the great barrier reef, climbed mountains in Africa and lived on remote islands in Thailand wearing only a joint and a pair of shorts. At parties and social gatherings, he was the center of attention. We all loved him and enjoyed laughing at his stories.

Until we didn’t. 

I will be honest with you. It took a few years before our suspicion of his lying became anything serious. It was a Friday night when he told a story that we knew for a fact wasn’t his. It was one of our other friend’s stories and he had adopted it and put himself in as the main character. We were quite shocked. 

We knew he had been lying for a while, but thought it was more the usual exaggeration gone wrong and not a flat out lie. But no. It was much worse. He stole stories. We stopped enjoying his stories. We stopped sharing our stories with him as well. I stopped enjoying his company too. It was too difficult to respond to the stories when you knew that they were likely to be untrue.

The 30-day challenge of not lying!

I bought Sam Harris’s book “Lying” about five years ago. I was realizing that even the small casual lies, the so-called white lies, were kind of problematic. But I still thought that in some cases it would be ok to lie. 

I didn’t read his book until recently. Then I started my 30-day challenge. The first thing I noticed, was how much I lied to my kids. One evening I was talking to my (at the time) 5-year-old daughter and she said: 

Daughter: Dad can we watch TV and eat candy tonight? 

Me: No sweety, not tonight. We don’t do that on Wednesdays. 

Daughter: I bet you and mom eat candy and watch TV when I go to sleep 

Me: No no, of course not. 

!!!!! — LIE — !!!! 

So easy. How do you even explain that to your kid? “The rules are different for adults”. They will ask why and there is no good answer, lying is easy. I have stopped doing that and my relationship with my kids is better for it. They trust me more.

When you are not lying you get to practice the reasoning behind your decisions and actions.

You should try it. It is both scary, fun and you will learn a ton about yourself and your relationships. The first thing you will notice is how often you throw a casual lie when it is easier than telling the truth.

Why we shouldn’t lie

Lying is so much more than the small lies we tell our kids, spouses, friends and other people we interact with. Lying and the truth is an integral part of ethics and of the foundation of our society at large. 

If we cannot trust each other it is almost impossible to have a conversation or make any kind of agreement. Without trust, there would be no society. Trust is the glue that upholds society, friendships and marriage. All the small lies contribute to breaking down that trust.

I am tempted to go into politics, sociology, and philosophy but let’s keep personal for now.

You need to tell the truth to be an authentic and congruent being.

But what is truth and how do you tell the truth? First of all, you need to distinguish between truthfulness and telling the objective truth. Being truthful means that you believe what you are saying is true. It may not objectively be the truth, but you believe that it is. Being truthful is important to how people will respond to you and how people will perceive you. 

Being truthful does not mean you have to say everything all the time. You do not have the say everything that pops into your mind but may keep things to yourself. This is where the grey areas are and where it becomes difficult. 

You must train yourself to be empathetic. In seeing the situation from the other person’s perspective. Then tell the truth to the best of your ability. 

You will get loads of benefits

  • Very quickly you will notice that people change their attitudes towards you. You may even hear people appreciate the candor they get from you. (If you are polite and tell the truth gently and respectfully).
  • You will notice how easy it is to keep track of what you tell other people. Suddenly it’s not a problem that you said to Anne that you can’t go to her birthday when someone asks a week later why you can’t go. You told the truth and that is easy to remember.
  • You get to say a lot of fun things when you get into practice. Instead of coming up with stupid white lies when people ask you if you like their hair, you will learn to tell them your truth with respect — that is way more fun.

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

Mark Twain


It is easy to tell a white lie. Especially when you want to avoid conflict. But you are not helping anyone. Imagine you are in that other person’s shoes (or dress, or shirt). Would you like to go out to a party looking like a sausage? Or rather have the truth up front, even if it is hard?

Tell the truth! It will do wonders for you. 

Ps. I dare you: Do a 30-day challenge and write in the comments what you experienced.