The Choice and Responsibility of Integrity

By Kirstie Shapiro

Living with integrity and being accountable for your actions is key to being in business and living in Joy and Happiness. When I speak of integrity what I am really referring to is an internal unification, a consistency within the choosing of Happiness over anything else. Opting for Happiness, contentedness and kindness is a decision that is available to us at any time, that needs to be remade continually at every twist and turn of life. When we become sufficiently conscious of our thoughts and actions, when our awareness develops sufficiently for us to maintain our integrity of Happiness as our life’s path, then we can consistently choose the fork leading to a joyous experience of life for ourselves and others, be it at home or in business.

As human beings, one of the most necessary tools for us to remain constant to our path of self-development and improvement of mind and body is accountability. Only we can be 100% responsible for our lives and the type of life we are living. No one but ourselves are responsible for our outlook on life. An inspiration for this type of mindset is Victor Frankl a prisoner of war in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, where he chronicled his experiences in the camps. He has written extensively on finding the meaning of life through discovering a purpose and taking responsibility for ourselves and other human beings. He states that by having a very clear “why” in life and business, we can then face and overcome all the “how questions” life presents us. The key here is taking responsibility and having a sense of integrity in all we do and say for the greater purpose that we aspire to, whether it be along the lines of Happiness, Joy, Fulfilment or Success. One of the ways to build integrity and accountability is through the practice of Mindfulness.

One might accuse me of sounding like a broken record, and on this subject, you won’t be wrong, because I am:

“Happiness is not something that happens to you. Happiness is something you have to take ownership of and cultivate for yourself.”- Kirstie Shapiro

Happiness is an art and a daily discipline; we as human beings have to choose to be happy. As a huge generalization, yet mostly a true observation, people go around thinking that something or someone will make them happy, if only they could just get a hold of it. Happiness is, as I have said before a moment to moment choice. And we have to train the brain and the mind to go back to that choice of Happiness, that specific lifestyle decision of Happiness, over and over and over again.

No one (that I am aware of anyway) is 100% happy, 100% of the time, yet if we make it the Golden Standard of our life, we can choose to take out a few moments throughout the day to stop for a second and be grateful, be still for one breath, be open and receptive to the goodness and the kindness around us. Simple things to really stop and appreciate, like the fact that you are alive today, that you have a job to go to, that you have a place to rest your head. Once you open the door to gratitude we begin to realise the countless number of things, people and events we can be so grateful for.

Every day, without really realising it we are engaged in an abundance of miracles:

  • a clear blue sky,
  • green leaves and blossoms,
  • the loving eyes of a pet,
  • the warmth of a colleague’s kindness or concern.

With the practice of Mindfulness, we develop our ‘muscles of happiness’, we learn not only to be restful and happy, we also learn to be alert and awake. In the beautiful words of Thich Nhat Hunh “Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality”.

Happiness is not a right; Happiness is a purpose we pursue in order to give our lives meaning.

Feeling powerless in our modern times of information overload, constantly being barraged by major global events & catastrophe has a potent impact on all of our lives and has the ability (if allowed) to amputate our chance of purposefully pursuing Happiness. This sense of powerlessness to do anything about these national and global events ranging from issues such as homelessness, refugees, abused children, tortured animals, global warming, “Monsters” in high places in our political arenas, and so the list goes on, which can cause both an outburst of anger and rage and more often, an overwhelming decent of anxiety, crushed and paralysed by the indecision and distress by the realisation of never being able to make a ‘real’ difference to any of it. Our poor limbic system is on overdrive and there is no ‘off’ button.

What then do we do when faced with living in these uncertain and intense times?

There is in fact, a lot that we can do.

  1. Firstly, we need to ‘manage’ ourselves, before we can take on the world. We need to be able to ‘deal’ with ourselves and who we are. In other words, we need to take care of ourselves, in order to have the strength to take care of others and in so by doing, take care of our Business and then the world. What I mean by this is not all the stuff that you already know about and potentially already do, such as, exercising regularly, eating healthily and getting sufficient sleep; but discovering for yourself a purpose for being here now.
  2. One of the most powerful and liberating purposes we can cultivate is the purpose (and not the pursuit) of Happiness. If we learn to develop the correct mental ‘muscles’ or attitudes, then we begin to notice that collateral joy, peace and meaning can be discovered in the most adverse as well as the most propitious of conditions.

Note: For Further reading, you might enjoy: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl,