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为什么诚实会让你更快乐

更新时间:2017-9-21 11:44:26 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How Honesty Could Make You Happier
为什么诚实会让你更快乐

I’ve been keeping an honesty journal for the past several months. With honesty much in the news lately — you might even say honesty is having a cultural moment — I wanted to reflect on my own. My 6-year-old daughter once told me that telling the truth made her feel “gold in her brain.” Could upping my personal honesty light up a pleasure center in my own brain?

过去几个月里,我一直在记诚实日记。鉴于最近的新闻中有很多关于诚实的话题——你甚至可以说诚实迎来了文化上的敏感时刻——我也想反思一下自己的诚信情况。我六岁的女儿有一次告诉我,实话实说让她觉得她的“脑袋里有金子”。提高我本人的诚实度,能激活我大脑中的愉悦中心吗?

My plan was to jot down different instances throughout the day where I had to make a choice about honesty and notice how it felt.

我的计划是,每天记录自己必须做出与诚实有关的抉择时所面临的不同情况,并留意当时的感觉。

The day I started the journal, the same 6-year-old daughter asked me during her bath if the cat really went to sleep last year, and if that actually meant that I had killed him. I rinsed her hair and sighed, wondering if I should wait to start this honesty project until my children were grown. But I braved it and told her that yes, I had made the choice for him to die, because he was suffering and I wanted him to be at peace. She lost interest about halfway through my explanation, which was O.K. with me.

开始记日记那天,六岁的女儿边洗澡边问我:那只猫去年真去睡觉了吗,还是说那其实意味着我把猫杀了。我洗着她的头发,叹了口气,暗自琢磨是不是该推迟诚实计划的实施,直到我的孩子们长大一些。但我鼓足勇气告诉她,没错,我替猫咪做出了离开这个世界的决定,因为他正遭受折磨,我希望他能够安息。我刚解释到大约一半,她就失去了兴趣,我松了口气。

It struck me that the choice to lie or be honest was often a choice between two equally undesirable things. Telling my daughter the truth did not make me happier, but lying wouldn’t have either.

我猛然惊觉,撒谎和说真话二选一,常常意味着在两个同样糟糕的选项之间做出选择。告诉女儿事实不能让我更快乐,撒谎也不能。

A bigger opportunity arose with my 8-year-old son. Though he didn’t know anything about the journal, after a few weeks, he seemed to open up in a new way, asking me things he was too embarrassed or scared to ask before, like what the word “pimp” meant and why people kill themselves. In fact, one of my biggest takeaways was that we shouldn’t lie to children when they are asking us about grown-up words or ideas — otherwise, they will just ask Siri. If it’s between YouTube and me to explain prostitution, I pick me.

八岁的儿子给我带来了更大的机会。他对诚实日记毫不知情,但几周后,他似乎以新的方式敞开了心扉,会把以前因为太尴尬或太害怕而没问过的问题抛给我,例如“皮条客”(pimp)这个词是什么意思,为什么人们会自杀。事实上,我的一大发现是,当孩子问及成人用语或成人观念时,我们不应该撒谎——否则他们就会去问Siri。如果非得由我或YouTube来诠释卖淫的含义,我宁愿自己来。

Still, I wondered about those little lies we tell to avoid hurting people’s feelings. Researchers at the University of California San Diego Emotion Lab are looking at “prosocial” lies — the white lies we tell to benefit others, like telling an aspiring writer their story is great because you want to be nice and encourage them, when in reality you know it needs work and will meet rejection. A recent study at the lab suggests that we are more likely to tell a prosocial lie when we feel compassion toward someone, because if you feel bad for someone, the last thing you want to do is hurt them with the truth. These lies feel better in the short term, but they often do more harm than good in the long. After all, the brutal truth can be painful, but people need to know it if they are to improve their performance, especially in a work or school situation.

但我仍对我们为了避免伤害别人的感情而撒的那些小谎感到好奇。加州大学圣地亚哥情绪实验室(University of California San Diego Emotion Lab)的研究人员,正聚焦于“亲社会”谎言——也就是我们为了利他而撒的小谎,比如告诉想成为作家的人们,他们写的故事很精彩,因为你想要表现出友好态度并鼓励他们,但实际上你知道那些作品还不完善,会遭到拒绝。该实验室最近的一项研究显示,当我们同情某人时,更有可能说出亲社会谎言,因为如果我们为某人感到难过,最不愿意做的事情就是用真相伤害他们。短期来看,这些谎言会让人感觉良好,但假以时日,它们造成的伤害会大于它们带来的好处。毕竟,残酷的真相虽然伤人,但如果他们想要改善自身表现的话,尤其是在职场上或学校里,人们需要知道真相。

But was brutal truth what I really wanted when it came to my marriage?

不过,如果涉及的是我的婚姻,我真的想要残酷的真相吗?

My focus on honesty at times did lead to better interactions with my husband. When the New York Times Magazine article about open marriage came out, for example, it sparked my curiosity. Since I was keeping an honesty journal, rather than keeping it to myself, as I would have done in the past, my husband and I had an honest discussion about it. Other times, the compulsion to be honest strained things between us. That I disagree with some of his parenting techniques doesn’t necessarily need to be pointed out every single time. I came to realize that, within relationships, there is a third category between dishonesty and telling white lies, called not sharing everything.

专注于诚实有时的确会让我和我丈夫之间的交流得到改善。例如,当《纽约时报杂志》(New York Times Magazine)登出关于开放式婚姻的文章时,我的好奇心被激发了出来。由于正在记诚实日记,我没像以往那样独自琢磨,而是和丈夫就此进行了开诚布公的讨论。另外一些时候,说实话的冲动只会让我们的关系变得紧张。我不认同他的育儿技巧这种实话,没必要次次都说。我意识到,在伴侣之间,除了坦诚相待和撒些善意的小谎,还有另一种相处方式,那就是不要无话不谈。

Over all, I found that I struggled more with the small instances of honesty, rather than the big. So, when a client accidentally paid me twice for a project — sending a duplicate $1,000 check a week after they’d already paid me — there was no internal debate. It was $1,000, so obviously, I notified the client. But when the McDonald’s drive-thru cashier gave me an extra dollar in change and the line had been SO long and all I wanted was a Diet Coke and my kids were acting crazy in the back seat and why was this stupid McDonald’s always so slow anyway?! . . . it was a different story. Even though I gave the dollar back, I almost didn’t, because an extra dollar was such a small thing and seemed somehow justified. Had I not been focused on honesty, I’m not sure I would have given it back.

总体而言,我发现比起大事上的诚实,小事上的诚实会让我的内心更为挣扎。当客户不小心为一个项目付了两次款时——在付款一周后又发来一张1000美元支票——我根本没有思来想去。这是1000美元,如此显而易见,我通知了客户。但换成麦当劳的得来速窗口收银员多找了我1美元,而且窗口前排了那么长的队,我只不过要喝健怡可乐,我的孩子们在后座上闹翻了天,再说笨蛋麦当劳为什么总这么慢?!……可就是另外一回事了。虽然把1美元还了回去,但我差一点儿就不想还了,因为多拿1美元是非常小的一件事,何况在某种程度上还情有可原。如果不是正专注于诚实,我不确定是否会归还这1美元。

My experience was consistent with what behavioral economist Dan Ariely wrote about in his 2012 book The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. His research showed that we fudge the truth by about 10 percent or so. We cheat when we are fairly certain we can get away with it, but just by a little, and about things we can justify. We do it more if we see other people doing it. We do it less if we are reminded to be honest. My journal pointed these instances out to me rather starkly.

我的经历与行为经济学家丹·阿雷利(Dan Ariely)在2012年的《不诚实的诚实真相》(The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty)一书中所写的内容相契合。他的研究显示,我们会捏造10%左右的事实。如果相当确定不会被逮到,我们便会撒谎,但只是撒一点儿情有可原的小谎。如果看到其他人在撒谎,我们会较多地说谎话。如果被提醒做人要诚实,我们较少地说谎话。在我的日记里可以相当清楚地看到这些情况。

I also quickly came to realize that the Facebook version of Judi Ketteler, whose life was so together and children so well behaved, was a very particular version of me, a notion explored by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz in his book Everybody Lies. Dr. Davidowitz, a data scientist, tackles the discrepancy between the ideal version of ourselves we present to the world via social media and the often-miserable confessions we make to Google as we search for the things we would never post in a status update. My social media self wasn’t a lie, but if I was going to focus on truly honest behavior, it seemed better not to indulge too much — hence, I pulled way back from posting on Facebook.

我还很快意识到,Facebook上那个生活美满、子女乖巧的朱迪·凯特勒(Judi Ketteler),只代表着我的一面——赛斯·斯蒂芬斯-大卫德维茨(Seth Stephens-Davidowitz)在《人人都会说谎》(Everybody Lies)一书中对这种观点进行了探讨。数据科学家大卫德维茨所探究的是,我们通过社交媒体向外界呈现的理想化自我,与常常颇为糟糕的实情之间的差异——由我们输入谷歌搜索引擎的关键词揭示出来的实情,绝不会被我们写进状态更新里。我通过社交媒体呈现的自我并不是一个谎言,但如果要专注于真正诚实的行事方式,似乎最好别太沉迷于社交媒体——因此,我大幅减少了在Facebook上发的帖子。

Even though honesty felt like a struggle, I started to like how it felt. Research from the University of Notre Dame has shown that when people consciously stopped telling lies, including white lies, for 10 weeks, they had fewer physical ailments (like headaches) and fewer mental health complaints (like symptoms of depression) than a control group that did not focus on honesty.

诚实做人像是一场战斗,但我开始喜欢上了诚实的感觉。美国圣母大学(University of Notre Dame)的研究显示,当人们在十个星期里有意识地停止说谎话时——其中包括善意的谎言——他们罹患的身体病痛(如头疼)以及对心理健康的抱怨,都少于未专注于诚实的对照组。

When people were more honest, they also tended to feel better about their relationships and social interactions, the researchers found. This rang true for me, mostly because I felt better about myself. I like the saying, “Everybody wants the truth, but nobody wants to be honest.” I didn’t always want to be honest. But I wanted the truth, and this focus on honesty helped me feel that I was doing my part.

研究人员还发现,当人们更诚实时,他们往往对自己与伴侣的关系以及自己的社会交往有更好的感觉。对我而言真是如此,主要是因为我的自我感觉变好了。我喜欢那句老话,“人人都想要真相,但没人愿意说实话”。我以前并非总愿意说实话。但我想要真相,而这种对诚实的专注让我觉得,我正在出自己的一份力。

The bottom line is that focusing on honesty is a way to actively engage with the world, versus passively complain about it. It might even make you feel like you have gold in your brain.

最重要的是,专注于诚实能让人积极地与外界沟通,而不是消极地抱怨世界。这样做或许还会让你觉得自己的脑袋里有金子。

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