I’ve come to believe that much of the anxiety we feel in our lives develops in the chasm between the people we want to be/strive to be and the people we actually are. Those who are privately and publicly much the same are considered people with integrity. This word has really taken on a lot of weight for me and I think about it daily. It drives my decisions, both big and small, my interactions, and my plans. Starting on a smaller scale, I think about how my behaviors impact those in my immediate surroundings. Taking it further, I think about how my behaviors impact those in our larger society, the world, the universe.

It can be overwhelming, but by starting small we find that a true commitment to living a life of integrity actually helps us to shed much of the anxiety that can grow in that “disconnect” between who we are and who we want to be.

So what does it mean to live a life of integrity? This can be answered by considering the values that you hold dear. What is most important to you? Is it being an honest, thoughtful person who considers the needs of others? Is it being someone who treads lightly on the earth, only using the resources most needed? Does it mean committing to engaging authentically with people, in every exchange? Everyone carries their own set of values and beliefs, by which they live their lives.

Typically, as we find harmony within our own lives we look to help those who have not found the same opportunities for wellness and happiness. Connecting with people, animals, and an environment in need can be a powerful way of bringing us closer to our goals of contributing on a deeper level. Finding a community that shares our values can be deeply rewarding, as we find reinforcement in the choices that we make. This community can make living a life of integrity that much easier, and offer valuable contributions to our children about how it is done, validating what we are teaching at home and reinforcing what we know to be true but have somehow moved away from: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

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