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The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.
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The Virtues Basket: How to Be an Honest Person

PRESENTED BY Setareh Samandari Zargarpour | Jun 5, 2021

What does complete honesty look like? In the third video of the “Virtues Basket” series, we explore the many components of honesty and how it can shape our lives.

Honesty is a package that includes sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness, kindness, and openness. An honest individual does not cheat, lie, or steal. We can count on honest people’s words because they say what they mean. An honest person tells the truth no matter what, rather than exaggerating or distorting the truth for their own benefit.

In his book “The Power of Your Influence,” author Stan Toller wrote that the opposite of honesty is “spinning.” Politicians, media, and businesses often spin facts. Some struggling businesses may “spin their financial hardship to a creditor by saying they are ‘positioning themselves for success’.” Or a deceitful person may spin their conduct when pretending not to remember what happened or denying that anything happened. Most people avoid telling an outright lie, but it’s common to exaggerate the truth.

When we are honest, we avoid spinning, exaggerating, or redirecting the facts. We do not fool others and do not let others fool us either.

But honesty is about more than just telling the truth: it requires tact and kindness. Some might mistake honesty with insensitive comments. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

…an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility.

Baha’u’llah also said, “wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing.” While truthfulness is crucial, we do not always need to share our opinion. When we make a comment, we can use “the sandwich method”: give a constructive recommendation between two compliments based on observations.

In a world where we often come across dishonesty and manipulation, it is pleasant to find an honest person. Complete honesty refreshes us and helps us gain the respect of others. An honest person prefers to tell the truth rather than protect the impression others have of them. For instance, if they were late to an appointment, an honest person would simply say, “I apologize for being late,” rather than using the traffic or an accident as an excuse.

To practice true honesty, we need to be honest with ourselves as well. An honest person has no need to impress others because they have a clear perception of who they are and how to improve. For example, if we hurt someone’s feelings or make a mistake, we cannot downplay the damage or try to redirect attention away from it. Instead, honesty demands that we acknowledge what we did and take steps to avoid making that mistake again.

Practicing honesty helps us learn to have a clear understanding of facts instead of following others blindly because we will develop the habit to learn the truth based on our own independent investigation.

Setareh Samandari Zargarpour has always been an artist at heart, after a 20-year career in Banking as Branch Manager for Wells Fargo and Chase she transitioned to working in Film. She had finished her Master of Arts in Political Science from CSUN and utilized it...



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