By Valerie Minard
Benjamin Franklin once quipped that “honesty was the best policy.” It certainly builds better personal and business relationships. Those, in and of themselves, are great benefits. But are there more? Yes! Honesty also improves health. That might be a stretch for some, but many have proven it over the millennia. Even researchers are now studying the effects.
In fact, Anita E. Kelly, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame, did just that. She conducted a study called, “The Science of Honesty” to determine how living an honest life impacts health. She took two groups of 36 people. The first group, called the Sincerity group, was instructed to speak “honestly, truthfully, and sincerely” — to “always mean what you say” every day for five weeks. The other control group was given no specific instructions. Over the course of the study, both groups took polygraph tests and physical health exams. The Sincerity group recorded significantly better health – less sore throats, headaches, nausea, or stress – than the control group.
Kelly even noticed the results in her own life following these same instructions. “Normally I get 8 hours of sleep and have 5-7 colds in a winter,” Kelly said. “Now at only 3 hours of sleep, I have been sick zero times since the fall.”
Unfortunately, lying seems to be rampant. Psychology Professor Robert Feldman, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst says, “Sixty percent of us have a hard time getting through a ten-minute conversation without lying at least twice.” He estimates 11 lies a day!
Harvey (whose name shall remain anonymous), was no exception, and he eventually learned a big lesson about honesty and health. There was a low point in his life when he felt overwhelmed by financial responsibilities for a young family and stuck in a dead-end job. In addition, he lied incessantly, had anger issues, drank too much alcohol, stole from his employer and was unfaithful to his wife– all the while believing he was doing the best he could under the circumstances. During this same time, he was diagnosed with damaged spinal discs from a work-related injury and was on pain medication.
But after several months with no improvement, he became discouraged and decided to take a different approach– he prayed–trying to gain clarity about his relationship with God. One book that helped on this spiritual journey was Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. He began to see that God was good and that he, as God’s child, was created good, instead of being a miserable sinner. This meant to him that he was pure and innocent — free to express his true spiritual nature. This new perspective brought about a dramatic change in his character and the negative traits disappeared.
He decided to stop pain medication and be honest with his wife about his past infidelity. As Harvey explained, he was waking up to the fact that ‘Honesty is spiritual power,” as it’s described in Science and Health. He was developing a deeper trust in divine power to bring out good in his life. Although, on one level. it seemed like he might be risking his marriage and family, in fact, his wife forgave him and he was fully healed of the injury without medication.
Ol’ Ben Franklin and Mary Baker Eddy would agree— honesty is the best policy. And treating ourselves and others with honesty and respect will bring the added benefit of peace of mind and well being.
Valerie is a self-syndicated columnist who writes about the connection between spirituality, consciousness, and health. She is also a Christian Science practitioner in Collingswood, NJ. Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet her at: @valerieminard.