Truths vs. Lies

Image courtesy of BrainPickings.org

Image courtesy of BrainPickings.org

I am not supposed to be blogging, because I have so much to do I will even skip sleep tonight. But then I saw the above quote from BrainPickings, and I’m like, Hmmm. I don’t know about that.

And I need to pause and think and log it down and rethink. Rethink like, the entire foundation upon which I have anchored the way I make decisions and the way I live my life.

See, I’ve always preferred truth, I guess, even if it stripped me of hope and dreams and other secondary benefits that beautiful lies afford. Truth is one of the virtues I most highly value, and it’s probably why I am drawn to the disciplines of philosophy and psychology over other areas of study. In this lifetime, I want to get to the truth of things. Of people. Of myself.

But I do see the point of the quote above. Truths are often anything but pretty, comforting, and encouraging. Certain lies are more convenient to uphold. Sometimes I miss the days when I can just accept as true the lies I tell myself in order to make me feel better about things, because then it didn’t take much effort to genuinely feel better after employing a defense mechanism or two. But commitment to the truth, if you’re serious about it, requires being highly self-aware—and that includes being aware when you’re simply using defense mechanisms to protect your own ego from the ugly truth. In effect, any power that such defense mechanisms have to protect the ego is stripped away. With that, you do retain faithfulness to the truth. But you will not necessarily be happier for it.

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”—Ernest Hemingway

In an adaptation of the above line by Hemingway, I thus submit that happiness in highly self-aware people is also likely to be rare. It is difficult to keep hope and dreams up, and to remain happy, when you are brutally honest with yourself.

This is one of the reasons why optimism has never been one of my strong suits.

But endurance is.

I can take the pain and live with it.

I don’t recommend this way of living or this way of dealing with things, because it is not pretty. My dear, it is not a walk in the park. If you can hang on to “the lie that keeps hope and dreams intact,” it’s probably for the best that you do. It is a gift to be able to do so, really. It is a gift to be able to keep rose-colored glasses on. The stubborn preference for the black-and-white truth is the one that’s the curse.

I guess ultimately, it all boils down to what you value more — truth, or happiness?

I am inclined to say you can choose only one, but I may be wrong about this.

Actually, I kinda hope I am wrong about this. ♠

“It is not the contented or the glowing who have left many of the profound testimonies of what it means to be alive. It seems that such knowledge has usually been the privileged preserve of, and the only blessing granted to, the violently miserable.”—Alain de Botton

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6 thoughts on “Truths vs. Lies

  1. Have you seen the adverts promising you everything you dreamed and hoped, if only you purchased the product? Most people gave up reality to live in a perpetual illusion of mediocrity and bliss, provided compliments of the marketing men. Few become a success by dreaming and hoping, it comes from the hard reality of pain, work and failure.

    • Indeed. I do think such adverts and the line of thinking they promote have contributed to the preference for convenient lies, although I also believe the main reason people prefer to live an illusion goes deeper than that.

      I couldn’t agree more with your last line — pain, work and failure aren’t exactly things people gravitate to, but they are necessary to a life well-lived.

  2. Good post. I’ve often felt the same thing on being self aware. It’s good to know your faults and what’s needed for improvement but good God that can make you quote miserable at times! 😉

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