Honesty is the best policy and we should never fudge the truth, right? Well here are a dozen times when other values might trump raw honesty. You be the judge.
1. When kids tell a joke. Laugh even if you’ve heard it a hundred times. The joy a child feels when she can elicit your laughter is far more important than knowing what grade you were in when you first heard that joke. Here courtesy and compassion trump the facts.
2. Having a great memory. Keep a list of birthdays in your computer or pocket day-timer, and enter them all at the beginning of the year. Keep a stash of greeting cards in your desk, and send one out a few days before each event. You will be deemed the Most Organized Person on the Planet. Do you need to correct everyone’s assumption and insist that you “cheated” by keeping a calendar? Absolutely not. You compensated for a weak trait and came through with flying colors. Real caring and thoughtfulness trumps petty details.
3. Enjoying a chat with Aunt Matilda. In fact, faking that you love to hear her stories over and over can boost your spirits and genuinely turn your sour mood into a cheery one. Faking happiness is a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Kindness always trumps bluntness.
4. Getting a makeover. Heck, yes, honey. Why should you be stuck in the doldrums when it comes to your hair color, clothes and makeup? Brighten it up, cover the gray, and let your appearance match that dazzling personality! You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Good grooming trumps the natural, shipwrecked look.
5. Cooking. Not every wonderful dish has to be made from scratch. My fellow foodies might cringe, but the gourmet police are not going to arrest you for using frozen bread dough. Is homemade best? Depends who’s cooking. It’s okay to take store-bought cookies to school, and to top desserts with whipped cream from a tub. You can serve “homemade” soups from the supermarket and re-frost a purchased cake. If pioneers had access to the delicious pies, jams, salsas, and artisan breads we have today, believe me—they would not be knocking themselves out trying to create duplicates. Take advantage of all the prepared foods available now, and use that saved time for relishing your relationships. Saved time trumps doing it the old fashioned way.
6. Cleaning. When guests are suddenly on the doorstep, it’s okay to shove clutter into a closet or into the clothes dryer. Dim the lights to hide the dust, and put on a big smile. Good intentions to make guests feel welcome will always trump the scowl of the unprepared. Better yet, welcome them and use that old line about “Pardon the mess; our kids are making memories.”
7. When your best friend asks if you think she’s attractive to guys. Of course she is. Let somebody else give her the improvement tips. You are blind to her flaws and she loves you for that. Gently suggesting ideas is tempting, but only do it if you can preserve her feelings at the same time. Haven’t we seen that there’s a lid for every pot? How can you presume to know who will find her attractive and who will not? Loving acceptance trumps the need for brutal evaluation.
8. When someone asks how you are, just to be nice. “How are you doing?” is really another form of “hello,” and doesn’t always imply the need for a full health report. Likewise, when a waiter asks how things are, know that he’s been told to ask this; he isn’t deeply worried about your level of satisfaction. Clerks at the supermarket checkout don’t really mean it, either, when they ask if you found everything you wanted. There’s nothing they can do about it if the store is out of your brand of toothpaste, or doesn’t carry it in the first place. Maybe a manager could help you, but not the cashier. When we take these questions as opportunities to vent or complain, are we being good missionaries? Are we being Christlike? Are we bringing a spot of joy to someone else?
9. When you hate where you moved. Here you owe it to your family to put on a smile and make the best of it. “Bloom where you’re planted,” as they say. Be Pollyanna and the rest of the family will follow. Show that you can always find the good in any situation. Whining and complaining accomplish nothing, and simply poison the air. Here an upbeat attitude beats painful accuracy.
10. When in-laws try your patience. You may have to grit your teeth, you may have to silently count to ten, but it’s worth the effort to preserve good feelings among people you’re sealed to. Family harmony beats clearing the air almost every time.
11. When you’re out and about. We all have stressful days, we all have blue moods. But what kind of message are we sending when we can’t seem to overcome a cranky moment? What does it teach our children when we tell off other drivers or snap at a receptionist? We must choose to be friendly, polite, and helpful to others if we’re ever to help build the kingdom. Gathering souls trumps letting it all hang out, any day of the week. Besides, civilized behavior is what separates us from the animals. Behaving with dignity even when you’re tired, is the sign of a good person.
12. When you notice flaws in your spouse. Open communication is waaay overrated. For years we’ve been told that all our thoughts and opinions have great value, and must be shared with our spouse. Wrongo. Biting one’s tongue and not sharing every thought that pops into your head is some of the best marriage advice you’ll ever hear.
Cruise with Joni and her husband, Bob, to Spain, Italy, and France May 12-19, 2012. Double occupancy starting at only $659.00 per person! See jonihilton.com for more information
Joni Hilton has written 17 books, three award-winning plays, and is a frequent public speaker and a former TV talk show host. Her latest book, “Funeral Potatoes– The Novel,” has just been scheduled for publication by Covenant Communications. She is also the author of the “As the Ward Turns” series, “The Ten-Cow Wives’ Club,” and “The Power of Prayer.” Hilton is a frequent writer for “Music & The Spoken Word,” many national magazines, and can be reached at her website, jonihilton.com. She is married to TV personality Bob Hilton, is the mother of four, and currently serves as Relief Society President in her ward in northern California