The Way of Integrity (Book Summary)

What’s it about?

The Way of Integrity (2021) is a four-step process for gaining integrity. This quality can alleviate the pain caused by harmful behaviors and beliefs on autopilot and mental health. 

About the author:

Martha Beck is a best-selling author, life coach, and speaker specializing in helping people achieve personal and professional success. She has written many books and is a regular contributor to O Magazine. She has a doctorate—Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University.

What can I get? Honesty is the way to a happy and meaningful life. 

Many of the things that make us suffer psychologically (pleasant people, bad habits, shallow interpersonal relationships) result from a lack of contact with ourselves, so what is the apparent treatment? Honest. 

Inspired by the “Divine Comedy,” this book uses Dante’s concept to break down the path of personal integrity into clear and practical steps. They use best practices to help you understand what integrity means to you. 

Compared with what society sells to you, you will adapt to the inner clues that can illuminate your desires, and you will find yourself in a happy place.

Integrity means being at one with your most booming, most authentic self – and it’s the medicine to suffering.

Think about your life. Maybe you have a good job, relationship, and goals. Perhaps your life is not perfect, but who does it belong to? Honestly, this is good. 

Now think about how you feel. Do you have anxious, uncomfortable, or depressing thoughts? Perhaps you tend to think about things that have not succeeded, or you may doubt whether your future dreams will come true. 

Emotionally, you may feel sad, discouraged, or numb; physically, you have no energy; mentally, you cannot concentrate. But to be honest, you are fine! 

How about you? What if it is not enough in this regard? You may suspect that there is more: more love, more meaning, more happiness. Here is where honesty comes in. 

Nowadays, the word “integrity” is used in a critical tone, but in all Latin, it only means “intact.” Flawless” means complete and indivisible. When an airplane is completed, many of its components will work together to glide across the sky smoothly. But when it loses its integrity, it may stop or break. It is not about judgment but physics. 

It is the situation in daily life. To meet social standards, you can often ignore or deny your true feelings and become unhappy, unproductive, and sick in the process. If your behavior does not resonate at the deepest level, you will suffer because you are out of sync with yourself. In other words, you lack integrity. 

On the contrary, when the body, mind, heart, and soul are in harmony, your daily work will consume you. You like to be with your friends and enjoy the best sleep. It’s great to wake up because you want to share. This day is just around the corner. Life runs smoothly like an airplane intact. 

Maybe you roll your eyes now, thinking this is nonsense. But you may also want to know if you can have such a fulfilling life. You may want to discover these levels of happiness and goals. 

This book shows the path out of suffering and traces Dante’s path in various stages of the Divine Comedy. The author believes that this work is a reliable guide for healing psychological trauma and restoring integrity.

To avoid the Dark Wood of Error, admit you’re lost and follow your internal teacher.

“In the middle of our life,” Dante began, “I am in a dark forest because I have lost the right path.” Like Dante, you may suddenly feel lonely and at ease, not knowing what happened. And how you got here. 

Society tells us that what is right is often in line with our true nature, and the dark forest of error is Dante’s metaphor for the inner fog created by this dichotomy. The first step in restructuring yourself—finding the “road to integrity”—realizes how lost you are. In the process, you are likely to encounter some challenging creatures or emotional states: hungry leopard (distress), terrible lion (panic), or sad wolf (depression). 

Again, this may lead to some wrong turns, just like Dante did when he tried to climb Delisiso. It is an attractive but destructive path driven by social comparison, just for being Hunted by animals. Fortunately, a small guide will help you determine the natural route. 

When Dante descended from Mount Delicioso, he saw the ghost of the poet Virgilio emerge from the tree. It is the guide of your soul and should get you out of sleepwalking. 

Your soul guide can appear in books or podcasts or through therapy or yoga. You are looking forward to a new look and tough love. In Eastern tradition, spiritual teachers often use cold water and bamboo sticks to wake up students. This guide is not designed to help you familiarize yourself with your hallucinations; it will set you free. 

But this external teacher is just the beginning; to learn, please go in. Your inner teacher is your whole. He will guide you physically and mentally; after hearing or telling the truth, your body will instinctively relax, and your mind will feel free. It is the most critical skill required to achieve true happiness. 

To achieve this state, Virgilio first takes Dante to a door that says, “Give up all hope of entering here.” In other words, give up the cowardice that makes you afraid to admit the truth you are so scared of. 

One way to do this is to focus on the present and believe that everything is fine. If you do this repeatedly in the face of fear or adversity, you will find that your part, pure integrity, is always able to deal with it.

In the Inferno, distinguish the elements of you that are hurting and set them loose.

Stepping into this door, Dante fell into the hell of sinners who carried out various punishments; this was hell. We all have an inner torment, a place of psychological pain caused by our internal divisions. 

But suffering is voluntary. Pain comes from the event, and pain comes from how you deal with it. Popular psychology generally believes that “positive” thoughts will make you happy, while “negative” thoughts are the opposite. It’s a reluctant, optimistic statement: “I love my job!”-It can feel like a dagger in the heart. At the same time, a negative feeling that corresponds to what you believe: “My job is terrible.”-Brings sweet relief. 

In hell, Virgil encourages Dante to do three things: observe the demons, ask them questions, and then move on, that is, find out the beliefs that make you painful and ask yourself: can I be sure if this idea is correct? The inner teacher realizes that you are wrong, puts aside rigid beliefs, and replaces them with openness. 

It is terrible to give up your faith, and others may not like your new freedom. Don’t worry; you are on the right track. Although there are some judgments, it is easy to enter the attack mode, whether yours or other people’s decisions, but don’t be obsessed with your lizard brain. Instead, focus on finding positive solutions: read a book to learn more, or plant a tree. You can also focus on your actual values. Research shows that this can reduce stress and make it easier to absorb information that is difficult to hear. 

In the deepest part of hell, Dante encountered the worst sinner: a liar. It is insidious to lie down like a tiny but deadly mosquito because it is so common and almost invisible. Every lie, good or bad, will cause damage. Dante, the deception is frozen in ice. If you lie to yourself, nothing seems trustworthy because you are not reliable. Life becomes cold, lonely, and numb. 

At the bottom of hell, a vast monster Lucifer hovered in the middle of the frozen lake. Dante frightened Virgil and let him approach him. They climbed up Lucifer’s body and crossed the water. They move on. But now, they have suddenly risen. 

The disappearance of the earth’s center means a connection with the central lie: I am alone.

To reach through Purgatory, follow your outer behavior with your newfound inner facts.

Dante and Virgil came out of hell at dawn: “So we went out to see the stars again.” You are at the foot of a vast mountain, the opposite of suffering. Purgatory means “purification,” and repentant souls purify themselves by performing various tasks on the hill until they reach heaven. 

Maybe your new way of thinking has eased your pain. It’s time for a walk. Hell ends with betrayal of yourself, so this is where your first step into Purgatory begins. Especially stop lying. This exercise sounds simple, but it is the best self-help strategy on the road to happiness. 

Dante walked to another door, this time guarded by an angel, who told him that he could only pass through if he agreed never to look back. In other words, make a promise to live out your truth. Not only start to change your thoughts but also every word and deed to conform to integrity. It may mean stopping laughing at colleagues’ rude jokes or, like the author, quitting the Mormon church and starting to behave like a homosexual. 

When your personality changes radically, you may find yourself missing your past life. Give yourself time and space to cry, and then move on. 

Then learn to deal with the abuser and your aspects.

As your interior and external lives progress to complete integrity, you’ll reach Paradise.

Three things occur as Dante reaches the pinnacle of Purgatory. First, he finds himself in a beautiful forest – the Garden of Eden. Second, he meets his old flame Beatrice, who commands him to stop acting like “one who dreams.” Third, he’s dunked in two rivers. The first makes him forget all his wrongdoing, while the second reminds him of everything he’s ever done right. 

Dante emerges from the clear water, wide awake and in total integrity. And, like the entire airplane, he can fly – literally. He effortlessly glides up to Paradise and takes his place among the stars.

You may not have magical rivers at your disposal, but you can still reclaim your innocence and reach your own inner Paradise. First, forgive yourself for ever betraying your integrity. Then, acknowledge and value everything you’ve done to support your sense of truth. 

With repeated action, persistent contemplation can turn a transitory state of connectedness and love into a permanent, structural condition. By focusing on integrity and compassion, you can rewire yourself for happiness.

In getting closer to your truth, you’ll begin having moments of satori – Japanese for “sudden enlightenment” – where the whole world seems to change. Like the Buddha or Jesus, a few people have experienced enlightenment as a giant, pivotal event. But it’s more likely that many smaller increments of awakening will gradually compose your new worldview. 

Dante has two sudden realizations during his ascension: the entire universe is one entity, and everything is driven by love.

In knowing we are all one, you can imagine your existence as a fractal – a microcosm of the exact shape of the universe. The shape of your life – your words and actions – affects the shapes of people and environments around you. And as your shape changes, so do theirs.

Maybe, after reading this book, you’ll admit what you need to be happy – first to yourself, then to a loved one. It could be your springboard to acting more assertively at work, which, in turn, could create more openness among your colleagues.

Each time you release an error and begin living according to your integrity, you scrub the dirt off another facet of yourself. You shine more brilliantly and absorb more beauty from the universe. 

At some point, you’ll realize, like Dante did, that everything is driven by love. And as you reach the highest level of integrity, your sense of unity and love will draw you toward helping others. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true: you’ll become the change you wish to see in the world.

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