We all fabricate the truth or stretch facts. Okay, so most of us lie. A lot.
What happens when we tell lies? Other than its predictable effects on the health of relationships, lying can also harm your body. And this has been substantiated by a study conducted at the University of Notre Dame.
During this study, 110 participants between the ages of 18 and 71 were studied over a period of 10 weeks. One group was told to stop telling lies for the duration of the study. The other group was given no instructions at all about whether to lie or not. Once a week, the subjects were given a lie detector test. The results were telling.
At the end of 10 weeks, the group that had refrained from lying reported fewer headaches and other physical complaints such as sore throat and inability to sleep. They also noticed a marked reduction in their stress levels and happier relationships.
“Statistical analyses showed that this improvement in relationships significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying,” said Notre Dame University professor Lijuang Wang, who conducted the study with Anita Kelly.
The statistics on how often we lie are a bit varied. According to a report in US News, “A growing body of research shows that people lie constantly, that deception is pervasive in everyday life. One study found that people tell two to three lies every 10 minutes, and even conservative estimates indicate that we lie at least once a day.”
But the numbers do not matter as much as the consequences here. We spin stories and tell falsehoods for all kinds of reasons—to escape censure, avoid punishment, earn praise or respect, get away from a person or place…the list is virtually endless. The untruth or the reason it is told may not pose a serious health problem, but the pressure of keeping up the pretense does.
Each time we tell a lie, it has to be maintained, usually by telling more lies. Being afraid of being found out, one feels stressed, which generates negative energy and causes the release of stress hormones such as cortisol—known for causing damage to health. Over a period of time, pent up stress can lead to severe health problems such as insomnia, back ache, irregular heartbeat, headaches and lowered immunity.
Telling the truth, on the other hand, builds confidence within oneself and among people. Relationships improve when we are honest, and this leads to the release of happiness hormones such as serotonin!
So much better to stick to the truth, honestly!