When I was in high school I was the class clown. Growing up with depressed parents and attending multiple funerals (accidents, cancer, suicides, etc) before the age of 18 gave me plenty of reasons to doubt my purpose, and making people laugh (often at my own expense) was a major source of superficial entertainment for me. Underneath, however, was a festering emotional wreck that was failing to make sense of the world.
After putting on a show for everyone around me for several years, I came to realise that there was a significant cost to my artificiality. Constantly masking my feelings was incurring a debt that seemed to accrue interest and late fees. Eventually this mask became untenable and it had to be removed.
In my early twenties, I decided to remove the mask and simply let people see me for who I was. I decided to stop lying and be honest and authentic about myself. I figured that if it backfired on me, I wouldn’t be much worse off, so I had nothing to lose. This has turned out to be one of the best bets that I’ve ever placed. For the next ten years, honesty was my mantra - it defined this period in my life (it was followed up with my next ten-year epic on objectivity).
The simple truth is that there is almost always a higher cost in lying than in truth-telling. When you lie, you carry the burden of tracking who you’ve lied to and what you’ve told them. When things start to unravel, you have to swoop in with ever-more tortured explanations until finally the house of cards collapses. When telling the truth as a matter of principle, people find you authentic and trustworthy. You’re not constantly forcing your speech through your cortical BS filter, so your stress levels decrease. Science has found a direct link between increased stress hormone levels and shortened lifespan, so lying literally makes you die faster.
For more great information on lying, check out Lying, by Sam Harris. Sam does a great job of articulating the cost of lying from an amoral perspective.