Louie CK (regardless of any of his controversies) has a wonderful joke about children and lying.
He jokes that when a child discovers lying for the first time it is like discovering a superpower. While getting into trouble can be scary for a child, a simple lie can reverse any damage done and they can happily continue with their lives with zero consequences.
This is often the case for all humans, regardless of their age. It’s very easy to not admit to your mistakes when you know that no one will ever find out. It’s very easy to cover up the truth because if your words are the only source to go off, then how is anybody supposed to know any better?
Being honest, on the other hand, is hard. Honestly requires admitting to your mistakes and the consequences can be immediate. Whoever you’ve let down will be upset and it will change what happens between you in the future.
So, why are we told from a young age that we should always tell the truth?
Because no one wants to be lied to. Noone wants to be fooled because it hurts our ego, and no one wants to rely on someone to do something if they can’t trust them to do it.
But, what if we’re never found out about our lies?
The honest truth is that this happens. It is estimated that the average human tells 1 – 2 lies a day and the world keeps turning as people lie each day.
What we need to focus on for us personally, though, is the risk vs reward of lying.
Honesty is directly linked to reputation. Everybody makes mistakes, but when someone admits to them, you know that when they make another one, they’ll be honest about it. In this way, you know that you can trust them to not fool you and damage your ego, and you know that they’re going to have the guts to tell you openly about problems that come up so that you can work through them.
Lying can be an easy win, and being honest may have consequences in the short term. But, for long-term strategy, honesty and reputation will always be more beneficial to us (and more rewarding to the soul, of course).