Do you want to live with a strong sense of peacefulness,
happiness, goodness, and self-respect? The collection of
happiness actions* broadly categorized as “honor” help you
create this life of good feelings.
As the American Heritage Dictionary defines it, honor is
“Personal integrity maintained without legal or other
obligation.” It’s a deep sense of rightness in our choice
of actions. However, this sense of rightness does not
display itself as ugly self-righteous behavior. It is a
quiet personal experience of rightness that leads to a
lasting sense of well-being.
Here’s an example to show how honorable actions create
Say a store clerk fails to charge us for an item. If we
don’t say anything, we receive an immediate reward, don’t
we? We feel excited by our good fortune, and could leave
the store with a sense of glee. We made no mistake and we
made no effort to cheat them. So, why not allow the error
to benefit us? It seems we would still be able to respect
To discover why we should take honorable action, we need
only play out each possible future.
If we keep silent, and profit from the clerk’s mistake, we
would leave the store with adrenaline coursing through our
veins; we would get away with something. We would drive
home with a sense of sneaky excitement. Later we might tell
our spouses or friends about our good fortune.
On the other hand, if we tell the clerk about the uncharged
item, the clerk would be grateful and thank us for our
honesty. We would leave the store with a quiet sense of
honor that we might never share with another soul.
In the first case, where we don’t tell the clerk, a couple
of things would happen. Deep down inside we would know
ourselves as a type of thief, as evidenced by our sneaky
excitement. In the process, we would lose some peace of
mind and self-respect. We would also demonstrate that we
cannot be trusted, since we advertise our dishonor by
telling our spouses and friends. We tarnish our own
reputations by telling others.
In contrast, bringing the error to the clerk’s attention
causes different things to happen. Immediately the clerk
knows us to be honorable. They like us. They remember us
thereafter and treat us well. Upon leaving the store, we
reflect on our sense of goodness. We feel honorable and our
self-respect is boosted. Our kindness to the clerk is
reflected back to us immediately and over the long term
when they see us again.
Whenever we take honorable action we gain the deep internal
rewards of self-respect, peace of mind, goodness, and a
sense of nobility. All of these greatly contribute to our
sense of well-being. Honorable actions create happiness.
There is a beautiful positive cycle that is created by
living a life of honorable actions. Honorable thoughts lead
to honorable actions. Honorable actions lead us to a
happier existence. And it’s easy to again think and act
honorably when we’re happy.
Unfortunately, there is a negative version of this cycle.
Dishonorable thoughts lead to dishonorable actions that
lead to pain and unhappiness. Unhappiness leads to more
So, strive for the positive cycle. While it can be
difficult to start, once it’s started, it’s easy to
The opportunities for expressing honor—and thus for
becoming happier—are all around us. In our work-lives we
express honor by always doing quality work, never leaving
details unattended, working in the company’s best interest,
treating customers and employees well, never working in a
divisive spirit, and striving to promote harmony.
In our larger lives we express honor through honest and
ethical actions, being punctual, doing what we promise,
holding ourselves accountable for our actions, treating
others with respect, and so on. Although the list is
endless, the common theme is a sense of quiet rightness. We
feel quiet; at peace with our thoughts and actions.
Many people look to books of laws, or religious teachings
to know what is honorable, but you can almost always tell
honorable actions by consulting your inner spirit. Simply
ask yourself which course of action creates the least
internal and external turmoil in the long run. Predictions
of your mental quietude are good guides.
Just as we did with the inattentive store clerk example,
ask yourself if you would be more or less peaceful; happier
or unhappier in the long run; more self-respecting or less;
more honorable or not.
If you always choose the honorable route, you are never
plagued by the fear of "being discovered" and no one can
ever threaten to expose your past. That brings the peace of
mind essential for genuine happiness.
* Happiness actions – the physical and mental actions that
naturally and automatically create a strong sense of