How do you define morals? What are morals?
Morals are a person’s standards of behaviour and beliefs as to what is and is not acceptable for them to do. Put simply, it is your individual view of what is right and wrong. While it may seem as though we all live by the same code, when we drill down to each individual’s morals, it is not the case. Different genders, generations, countries, religions, cultures, social classes and quite simply, different upbringings and experiences throughout our lives have left everyone with their own morals that while often similar to others are the same as none.
The Morality Trap
In Harry Browne’s “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World“, he defines the Morality Trap as “the belief that you must obey a moral code created by someone else”. If you’re acting in ways you hope will satisfy someone else’s concept of what is moral, chances are you’re using a code of conduct that won’t lead you to what you want and may trap you in commitments and complications that can only cause you unhappiness. In terms of this trap, what you do isn’t as significant as why you do it.
When looking at your own personal morals you need to consider the consequences of your actions; they are the point of everything that you do. Acknowledge that each and every act will cause many consequences, ranging from good to bad and everywhere in between.
What is the honest question that we are asking ourselves when making a decision?
“How can I get something I want without hurting my chances for other things that are more important to me?”
The whole purpose of personal morals are to keep you aimed in the direction you most want to go. A personal morality is the attempt to consider all the relevant consequences of your actions.
Can someone give me a a list of morals and values?
Sure, but will you be able to live by a list of morals and values that someone else has defined for you? Does the moral code in which I live by define who you are as an individual?
No matter how you approach the subject, you will always wind up at the same place: others cannot decide for you what is and isn’t moral. No matter what it is, you are living by a personal morality. The question is whether or not you’re acting deliberately to make it the morality that will bring you the kind of life you want for yourself.
Right vs Wrong
So how do you determine right and wrong? It’s probably simpler than you think:
- Right is what will bring you happiness
- Wrong is what will cause you to be unhappy
The same definitions apply to the words good and bad.
Questioning your Morals
When examine each of the rules you are living by, ask yourself:
- Is this rule something that others have created on behalf of “society” to limit others individuals? Or have I created it in order to make my life better for myself?
- Am I acting by an old moral rule that no longer makes sense but is “accepted”? Or have I personally determined it’s morality from the knowledge of who I am and what I want?
- Are the rewards and punishments attached to each rule vague and abstract? Or do the rules point to specific happiness I can achieve or unhappiness I can avoid?
- Have I accepted this morality “someone undoubtedly knows the reason for it”? Or is it one I’ve created because I know and understand the reason for it?
- Is it fashionable morality that is accepted by everyone around me? Or is it specifically tailored to my style?
- Is it a morality that’s aimed at who I really am and against my self-interest? Or is it a morality that is for me and comes from who I really am?
Questioning those that think they have “high morals”
When you decide to take matters into your own hands, others may not like this act of independence. “Who do you think you are? Who are you to decide for yourself in the face of society and centuries of moral teachings?”
Easy! You are you, the person who will live with the consequences of your actions. No one else can be responsible, because no one else will experience the consequences of your actions as you will.