Living the Sweet Life: A Completed Study of Aristotle’s 12 Virtue’s ~Truthfulness

By Alisa Murray
Nationally recognized
portrait artist and

This year marks my 15th anniversary writing my column Living the Sweet Life. This year also marks my 50th birthday. As a way of reflection and remembrance, this year’s Sweet Life will be a continuous study of Aristotle’s 12 Virtues and how they are applied to my life.

As we have seen throughout this year, all of Aristotle’s virtues are the continued contemplation of balance between two extremes. As for truthfulness, it is no different. The beauty of Aristotle is that at his core teachings there is the wondrous promise of living a good life.

Truthfulness is pretty simple; it is correct or it is not. But as we delve deeper into the concept of “truth” as studied by the philosopher, we find that there’s, as they say, more than meets the eye in defining it. Truth in theory and truth in thought are worth exploring, especially when looking at our lives.

First let’s look at truth in theory. We know when we look at an object shaped like a cup that it is so. We conceptualize these truths in our world by experience and by rationalizations that we come to understand from being taught about our environment and the objects surrounding us. We say this is a cup, and when we see a cup, we “know” that to be what it is. Pretty basic. Things are what they are, and we recognize these as truths.

Alisa Murray and William.

The second and more complex is truth in thought, and we as humans are beautifully blessed with having a soul. It’s that part of Aristotle’s teachings that fully embraces how we become happy and effectively live a good life as humans. Truth in thought is best exemplified by pulling together moral and ethical perspectives when thinking about truth and we as humans are uniquely quantified to be able to experience a good life because we hold in addition to our earthly bodies a soul. Being truthful with both ourselves and how we project ourselves to others is at the core of understanding this virtue. Some of us are tempted to over inflate ourselves to be what we want others to think we are and are unable to take criticism. Others are inclined to downplay their talents and accomplishments and are unable to take compliments well-deserved. It is the individual who sees himself for what he or she is and is both willing to share what they have accomplished without being boastful or inflated, and at the same time, not downplay their talents and accomplishments. Rather these individuals step up and take both credit and accept criticism and praise who have achieved the balance of moral and ethical truth.

As I age, I find it easier to allow my reputation to preceed me. Having been raised by very strong grandmothers taught me to give credit where credit was due. The idea of “faking it ‘til you make it” never really boded well with me as trying to keep up with all of that fakeness is not only untruthful, but it’s also quite exhausting. Both of my grandmothers would say do your best in all you do, and those words have proved to be a steady way to living a good life.

The sleep you get as your soul rests each night is certainly better knowing what you are is what people see. The harder lesson is to accept that our world does not allow for everyone to love us. Be steadfast though, and as Nana would say, “Be true to you.” Do not pretend to be what you are not, do not pretend to not be what you are and fully acknowledge the special you that only you can be. That, my friends, is the key to living a good life and of course, a sweet one, too!

Take care of You!