[On Saturdays my topic of focus is A Small, Good Thing, inspired by one of my favorite Raymond Carver stories.]

A big part of my identity is rooted in thinking of myself as a kind, caring, gentle and optimistic person…one who says supportive, positive things…a Tigger, not an Eeyore.

I’m uncomfortable saying anything that might come across as negative or unnice.  I hate the thought of hurting someone’s feelings or having them get angry at me.

This means that I often avoid saying unpleasant things, or I tell little white lies, supposedly to spare the other person’s feelings…but, hey, let’s be honest here…it’s mostly because I’m a super-wuss who hates the idea of anyone lashing back at me.

Are you a fundamentally good person, who cringes a little inside every time you hear yourself sugar-coat or gloss over or spin or change the subject, instead of coming out and saying something difficult yet important?

Sam Harris’s new e-book, Lying, (actually a long essay; I read it in about an hour), convinced me that I’ve got to change my ways.

Harris lays out why always speaking the truth, even about “little” things,  is good for relationships, good in the long run for the people who are receiving it (they need that information you’re withholding, even though it might be painful for them to hear), and extremely good for your own head (lying is stressful and complicated and involves having a good memory; telling the truth is easy and there’s nothing to remember!)

I was so impressed with Lying that I wanted a friend to read it. I typed him an e-mail, saying Read Lying! It’s short! Only about 40 pages!!!

Which wasn’t true. Lying is actually 58 pages long.

I went back and changed my e-mail message accordingly, and immediately felt way better.

[Small, good things: photos of lobster traps decorated for the holidays in Provincetown, MA]