Living with total integrity; authenticity, transparency, and honest; this is what truthful living means. Even white lies and fake smiles can snowball and turn into something much bigger. I think it is better to be honest. Sometimes that can mean that others won't like you, but do you really want them to like a false version of yourself? Prentending can rob you of your inner joy.
I've always been a frog-pleaser. Perhaps you are a people-pleaser. We do everything we can to make others like us; to not disappoint them. We work very hard at making everyone around us happy; at the risk of losing our own joy. I've learned, often the hard way, that when we try to please others we are generally out-of-alignment with our own wants and needs. It's not bad to think about others, and to consider the needs and wants of those others, but there is a BIG difference between pleasing others and helping others get what they want. And if you don't think that being "out of integrity" with yourself doesn't cause you unhappiness, think again. I've done my homework on this subject and here's what I've learned:
1. We don't actually fool anyone. Have you ever been somewhere, putting on a happy face when you're actually feeling miserable? I do this all the time. Even though we're acting as if everything is fine and dandy, when it's not, we can make others feel worse! Here's why. Frogs, and I dare say humans, aren't very good as hiding our feelings. "We exhibit micro-expressions that the people we are with might not know they are registering, but that trigger mirror neurons." This causes a little part of their brain to think that they are feeling your negative feelings. It's the same with frogs. When we try to surpress our negative emotions we wind up not only causing ourself more stress, but we impact the happiness of those around us...the very people/frogs we are trying to protect! It is better to be honest and share what is really going on with us. Everyone will feel better...even you. Honest is always the policy.
2. We find it harder to focus. Pretending takes a huge conscious effort, because it isn't our true nature. It becomes an "act of self-control and drains the brain of its power to focus and to work deeply." Lots of research has shown that the human's ability to exert self-control is actually pretty limited. It's like going to the gym and having a good ol' workout. The brain is like a muscle that tires out after a while; it cannot continue to work at peak performance without a rest. Any attempt at "performance;" of not being true to who we really are will only come back to bite us in the butt later on. Keeping up that happy facade is draining. But I'm guessing here that you already know this. Who among us hasn't, at one time or another, tried to be happy and brave in the face of trouble? It's positively exhausting!
3. You'll become more stressed and anxious. Ok, let's call it like it is. A lie is a lie, no matter the reason it's told. Making someone believe that you're happy, when you're not, is a bold-face lie. It is. I know there are those who firmly believe in the "fake it till you make it" theory of living...I used to be one of them, until I figured out that faking it was draining me of my ability to focus on the my real problem. Lying is stressful on our bodies as well as our brains. Our skin is less eleastic when we're stressed. Our pulse rate jumps up. And our breathing is quickened. The reason for these changes is glucocorticoids...hormones that are released during stressful times. These hormones increase when we lie. The less we lie, even to ourselves, the healthier we become. Researchers show that people who lie less (including those fake smiles we give others) can improve their ability to sleep better, have fewer headaches, less tension, and even fewer sore throats! Those of us who lie less also have healthier and stronger relationships.
None of us lie all the time. But in those instances when we think a little white lie will help the situation, stop and think about the consequences. And although putting on that happy face might make us feel better for a little while it will, invariably, backfire in the end. Living authentically may take a while to get used to doing, but it is our true self. And living our truth is what, ultimately, leads to happiness.
Want to know more? Check out The Greater Good at University of California/Berkeley.