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What happened to the "simple truth?"

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” — Albert Einstein

Source: olm26250/iStock

What happened to the “simple truth?” “The whole truth and nothing but the truth?”

In today’s world, truth seems to be a slippery concept. According to the dictionary, we’ve officially adopted a number of different types of truth.

Truthiness: The quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true.

Alt Truth: An ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterized by a rejection of mainstream politics and by the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content.

And the winner of last year’s Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year:

Post Truth: Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

Yikes! Is the truth really that complicated?

In my last article, I talked about Huna, the ancient Hawaiian system of energy work, empowerment, and wellness of spirit, mind and body. I am privileged to carry on the 28th generation of a lineage of Huna, and I teach its wisdom to students from all over the world. Many of Huna’s basic concepts are in the deeper meanings within the word aloha. And one of those concepts is oia’i’o.

‘Oia’i’o is more than just a great Scrabble word. The word means “truth” or “to tell the truth.” ‘Oia’i’o tells us to be truthful, authentic, and genuine. It reminds us to be transparent in all situations with everyone.

Now, if you just had a panic attack reading that last sentence, I totally get it! We’ve been taught to protect ourselves by not being truthful or forthright. We hold back parts of ourselves and withhold our true thoughts and feelings so that we don’t rock the boat. We pretend to agree with others to avoid conflict. We pretend to be okay when we’re not so we don’t feel vulnerable.

In our day to day lives, it’s so easy to tell those little white lies. (By the way, no matter what color it is, a lie is still a lie.) For many of us, it’s become so routine that we hardly notice we’re doing it. Do any of these sound familiar?

“What’s wrong?” “Nothing.”

“Do you mind staying late to finish that project?” “No problem.”

“Do these pants make me look fat?” “Of course not!”

We might have our reasons for no telling the truth. But as Bo Bennet reminds us:

“For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.”

The concept of ‘oia’i’o’ is more than just not lying. It’s about showing up as who we really are. Huna says that, if you don’t show up authentically, you can’t have true oneness with others or fully participate in life. Without ‘oia’i’o’ you are prevented from being truly pono —aligned and at peace—with yourself, others, or the world around you.

‘Oia’i’o’ is a concept that I have really taken to heart in my life. I believe in being kind, loving and caring to everyone. But I made the decision as I began to teach Huna that I would also be truthful and honest. When someone asks me a direct question or asks for feedback, I give a direct answer. With some of questions or requests, I have to tell the truth: I would prefer not to respond!

It's a simple, though not always easy, rule to follow: Just be truthful. Too many of us are out of practice. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say that you don't know. If the truth you need to speak is difficult, take a few moments then speak your truth as consciously as you can. If telling the truth feels vulnerable, take a deep breath and do it anyway.

As frightening as it can be in some situations, telling the truth and expressing yourself authentically is also a great freedom. You no longer waste energy hiding or pretending to be someone you aren’t. You no longer stress about how you are coming across. You no longer worry about staying consistent with the last lie you told!

Think about how you feel around people who are authentic with you. Don’t you feel a level of trust and comfort? What they say may be difficult to hear, but you always know where they’re coming from—no hidden agendas or ulterior motives, no sense of being manipulated. Practicing ‘oia’i’o’ can bring your relationships to a whole new level that is deeper and more connected.

Probably the most important person you need to be truthful with is yourself. Knowing who you really are, not who you think you should be. Acknowledging your authentic dreams and desires. Examining your places of fear and anger. Appreciating your positive aspects and declaring your own greatness.

If you’ve been caught in the little white lie trap for a while, how can you begin your practice of ‘oia’i’o’? First, make it a point to be aware of when you tell the truth and when you are not so truthful, when your actions are authentic or when they are just expedient. Pay attention to how you feel whenever you act or speak: Do you feel good and whole? Do you feel inauthentic? Get in the habit of pausing before you speak or act to find your truth and most genuine response. Keep in mind that being truthful and authentic will become easier and more comfortable the more you attempt it.

When it gets down to it, the truth is simple, not complicated. I invite you to experiment with the practice of ‘oia’i’o’ to see for yourself how empowering it can be.

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” — James E. Faust

To your TOTAL empowerment!


Dr. Matt


Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students to be totally empowered using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy, and Empowerment Fit, a program that incorporates targeted mind/body/spirit practices to create optimal physical fitness and health. Download his free special report, Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know to Achieve Your Goals. To reach Dr. James, please e-mail him at or visit his blog at

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