How to Be Happier: Integrity and Integration

how to be happier

If you are wondering how to be happier, you’re in good company. It may be challenging to see a direct connection between happiness (e.g., feeling good) and integrity. However, if the “Great Spirit,” Indian lawyer turned revolutionary Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) is correct, there is a strong correlation between having good character and being happy, fulfilled, at ease, and comfortable. When one integrates the parts of the self, one is considered “integrated” (in other words, there is integration). This is a primary route to happiness and success.

I love quotes about integrity, and this is a great one: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” I particularly like Gandhi’s use of the word harmony. Though it isn’t a popular value in the West, I think his conception of integration peaceful coexistence of different parts of the self is quite palatable. The simplest way is usually best. If inner peace is a core goal – perhaps comprising one of the “First Things” that Plato and Aristotle referred to as those pursuits and goals that are intrinsically, truly, and primarily fulfilling – then this quotation should really be fleshed out. What do you believe? Let me give you a few of my thoughts.

In an effort to understand how to be happier, I interviewed Kathleen Brooks, Ph.D. for a radio show I was doing about a decade ago called Values and Ethics: from Living Room to Boardroom on World Talk Radio. I am happy to report that as of 2017, it is also a book of the same name (a compilation of Kathleen’s and 19 other interviews).  The topic of the show was “A Life of Integrity and Meaning.” She was the perfect guest because she was a multifaceted and passionate helper of individuals (she was a psychotherapist) and she put out a book entitled Radical Integrity. Here are a couple excerpts from that show (which is available here):

  • “If you’re not ethical – and by that I mean you’re out of integrity – you’re not going to be at peace, I don’t care what you say. You can’t fool yourself, and ultimately, the person you’ve got to make happy is the person you look at in the mirror.” She is maintaining that those who do not have harmony between what they think, say, [feel] and do will find themselves unhappy.
  • “I tell my clients, ‘You have no idea how hard you work at being unhappy, unfulfilled, unethical, and miserable. It is actually the path of least resistance to do the right thing, to be honest, to follow your own heart, to follow your own values, and to take responsibility because the results you get are always much better. It really is less draining on your system.’” Indeed, Anne Morrow Lindbergh believed: “The most exhausting thing in the world is being insincere.”

It is uncomfortable to have a lack of harmony inside. It can take an emotional toll to be false, to mislead, to dissemble. It is like having a dark secret. One of the clearest examples of how difficult it is to live a life that is not consonant with one’s values might be when a spouse is conducting an ongoing adulterous relationship — they spend a lot of time and energy trying to get their own selfish needs met and “throwing their partner off there scent” simultaneously. I really think it can lead to a sense of shame and suffering. Actor Martin Sheen would agree; he said: “I learned I had to stand for something so I could stand to be me.” He is saying that the quest for how to be happier begins and ends with a commitment to be oneself. It is very tiring to try to pretend to be someone else, to put on airs, to manage an impression.

Here are some quotes about integrity to provide background on the question of how to be happier:

“Listen to the inner voice that may speak softly deep in your breast, calling you to what is right and best for you. Encourage children to find their inner voice and listen to it. Follow your own inner voice; it will never lead you astray.”
~ Kathleen Brooks, Ph.D.

“If we want fulfilling relationships, they must be founded on trust and respect. We can’t expect others to trust or respect us when we don’t tell the truth and when we don’t do what we say we’re going to do.”
~ Kathleen Brooks, Ph.D.

“Integrity is adhering to moral principle, being faithful to moral conscience, keeping our word, and standing up for what we believe. To have integrity is to be “whole,” so that what we say and do in different situations is consistent rather than contradictory.”
~ educator and psychologist, Thomas Lickona, Ph.D.

“Say you’ll never try to paint what is rotten with a sugarcoat. Say you’ll talk about the horrors you’ve seen and the torment you know. And tell it like it is.” ~ ground-breaking singer/songwriter, Tracy Chapman

“There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.” ~ Unknown author

“Live a life of integrity and meaning. Be true to your values and I think meaning will follow. It is what we can call “the valuable life” in the sense that you’re being true to your values. Not just a valuable life for you, but for other people, as well.” ~ Gary E. Kessler, author of the book Voices of Wisdom

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,/ When first we practice to deceive!” ~ Scottish novelist and playwright, Walter Scott

“A deeper satisfaction lies in honoring universal ethical values, that is, values that people everywhere believe should inform behavior. That unity between principled belief and honorable behavior is the foundation for real happiness.” ~ philosopher and ethics expert, Michael S. Josephson, Ph.D.

“Fame is a vapor. Popularity an accident. Riches take wings. Only one thing endures, and that is character.” ~ Horace Greeley, American newspaper editor from the 19th century

“Nice guys finish first. If you don’t know that, you don’t know where the finish line is.” ~ comedian Gary Shandling, who died in 2016 :<

“Never hope to conceal any shameful thing which you have done; for even if you do conceal it from others, your own heart will know.” ~ Isocrates (436 B.C.- 338 B.C.)

“Remember always that you have not only the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

…Every time we are not truthful, we create an alternate reality. And subsequently, we are forced to live a life in both worlds: the true one and the one we’ve created. On the other hand, when we choose honesty in all aspects of life including our marriage, our business, and our relationships, we live the same life wherever we are. Honesty leads to simplicity, but dishonesty leads to duplicity – the exact opposite.” ~ Joshua Becker

“Living an honest life takes effort – especially at the beginning. It requires a decision to pursue it and some action steps to get it started. But once it begins to gain momentum in your life and you begin to realize its many benefits, honesty will become easier and easier.” ~ Joshua Becker, noted minimalist and author of The More of Less Read more here:


If you appreciate quotations on values such as integrity and quotes about harmony, honesty, peace, or fulfillment, I welcome you to visit this page and search for words of wisdom – for free. It’s all about utilizing wisdom for better living. Integrity is a primary answer to the question, How to be happier.