5. Don’t cheat, don’t steal.

‘Peace of conscience is the greatest of all gifts.’
Lin Yutang.

Can a thief fully develop trust and intimacy knowing that they themselves can’t be trusted? Can a thief, who views people as a commodity, as a resource, ever fully connect with another person?

I suspect not. Instead of feeling ‘part of the mainland’ they remain ‘an island’, having severed their connection with humanity.

If you steal it means you’re grasping, it means you’re desperate. When you steal it means your need for something is stronger than your ability to go without. It means material goods are worth more to you than your character. It means the way you live your life depends not on you, but on what you can scavenge.

‘If we are so lost in grasping that we are ready to steal, then we are viewing other people, other demands, or other responsibilities simply as obstacles to our fulfilment. We would just as soon push them away in order to get what we want . . . Look at what is happening in your mind if you find yourself in that situation – you can actually feel quite disconnected from others.’  
Sharon Salzberg.

To live an honest life means resisting the easy way, the tempting way, and that in turn builds in us a capacity to choose the right path for our life, irrespective of how tempting the other path is. If things are too easy we don’t get good at doing the hard stuff, and it’s the hard stuff which is the most rewarding.

We are all subject to conflicting desires; if we could only act upon our strongest desire we would have little control over how we lived our lives, and we’d go through life with our destiny determined not by ourselves, but by the influences thrust upon us. But by practising honesty we develop a mental toughness and the capacity to say no. That’s important. The resilience we develop, and the self discipline we gain, add to our inner authority, that feeling of being able handle anything which comes our way. That feeling is gold.

‘The more honest you are, the more open, the less fear you will have, because there’s no anxiety about being exposed or revealed to others. So, I think that the more honest you are, the more self-confident you will be . . .’     
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama.

Further, to be honest with someone is to tell that person we care about them. That strengthens the connection we have with them. The added bonus: the more honest we are with people the more likely we are to attract the right people – the ones who want to see us flourish.

‘Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.’

When we act with honesty and with integrity we gain the trust of perceptive people, and more importantly, we come to know we can trust ourselves. That feeds our soul immeasurably! And when we trust ourselves it becomes easier to trust others. So, our relationships strengthen. And with those strengthened connections we satisfy our deep need to belong.

More tips on how we can feed our soul:
1. Say ‘Thank you’.
But this isn’t about being polite. It’s about you. Every time you say ‘Thank you’, you benefit.

2. Say ‘Please’.
Again, this isn’t about being polite. This book isn’t about how to be nice!

3. Avoid the underminers.
If only more people avoided their underminers! What a different world it would be!

4. Be the gatekeeper.
Why does anyone watch advertisements, for goodness sake?

5. Ulysses and the Sirens.
What can we learn from sailors who filled their ears with bees’ wax?