What Picking Up After Your Dog Says About Your Integrity?

2 min read

Someone asked me for an everyday example of how and when we can practice our integrity.

Pick up after your dog, I replied.

My pup Grom and I live in this beautiful neighborhood in Venice, California — the lawns, shrubs, citrus trees, the “Bird of Paradise” plants, and other greenery are constantly and impeccably maintained.

Yet, almost every day, we encounter dog poop that wasn't picked up by their owners, even as there are trash cans and complimentary “poopy bags” available every 100 feet or so.

And, almost every time, it gets under my skin because I think it’s disrespectful to the neighbors and it creates ill-will towards dogs (nothing like stepping into a dog doo with your brand new white shoes!!).

It is also contradictory to what everyone who lives in our community will say: “We love how well-maintained and beautiful it is, and we want to do our part!”

If that’s true, why not pick up after your dog?

Today, on our long walk, I ran out of the bags and had to go back to get one, then return to pick up after him.

Why did I do it?

No one was watching, I could have just left it.

After all, others do it.

And it’s not like I do it all the time… it happens, riiiight?

What’s the big deal?

Integrity.

How we live and what we do when no one is watching is who we truly are.

Furthermore, if we say we stand for one thing, but feel another, and do the third, we betray ourselves.

Our unconscious mind, which constitutes 90% of our nervous system, receives contradictory messages, which then creates confusion, disintegration, and erodes self-trust.

This then affects all areas of our life.

Seriously, Adi – this one thing?

Yes, this one thing.

Integrity starts eroding with the small stuff. Just like building anything starts with small steps.

It’s never the big things.

In order to lack integrity with the big stuff, we likely never built true integrity or we’d been eroding it for a while without any corrective action.

Our character is, ultimately, a collection of habits, which are in turn a reflection of a series of actions, thoughts, emotions, and beliefs that had been built for a long time. They’re instilled in the unconscious mind and become automatic.

You don’t make a decision every day to wash your face, do you?

You just do it.

The same is true with integrity.

If you have it, you just express it; if you don't, you don’t.

Of course, with everything in life -- including with washing our face and with having integrity, we sometimes “may not feel like it”. But this is where knowing our values, and using some will power to stick to them, is essential.

I didn't feel like going back to get a bag, but because of my values, I did it anyway.

Living with integrity requires courage, effort, and a great deal awareness. It often comes with the temporary cost or pain, too.

But living without it, however, comes at a much larger, long-term price – for without integrity, who and what are we?

What do we really stand for?

As for our walk today, the pup and I loved extending it to get the baggy, and it felt so great to do the “right thing” — the thing we value – and be true to ourselves.

So, yes — pick up after your dog.