Happiness is acquired after the successful achievement of individual values.
It is a conscious state that stems out of morality. It can also be defined as a state of satisfaction with life. It is a joy that is not earned through guilt or which does not clash with ones values. On the other hand, morality can be defined as the state of being upright. It is acquired from living according to the moral standards and values of a society. To be moral is to shun away immoral behaviors such as drug abuse, burglary, theft, among others. There exist a positive relationship between morality and happiness. Many philosophers hold that happiness results from morality.
It is a virtue that is achieved after living uprightly. Most immoral people find it difficult to be happy because they live with fear of what might happen to them or to their families. This paper will look at the meaning of happiness and morality, the relationship between morality and happiness and why many philosophers hold that in order to be happy, one has to be moral.
Happiness is the satisfaction of rational wishes; it is a state of joy which is achieved after being successful with ones mission in life.
It is achieved at the clutch of emotional whims. Happiness is a state of being contented with life and the progress one is making in life. One can never be happy if he lives in denial of who he/she is or if he/she is not ready to accept the kind of life he is living. It is not something that is given but it is earned. No one can give us the satisfaction we want unless we are ready to do something so as to achieve our values and purpose in life. When one is happy, one feels good and at peace with himself, and with other members of the society.
If a person does not recognize his purpose in life, he can never be happy with what he does (Annas 75). Everyone has a vision or a dream that he want to accomplish in life, if he finds himself on the path of achieving this dream, he feels contented and happy with his efforts. A robber can never be happy with the injuries sustained or the fear he lives with. This is because he tries to live in an unjust manner by taking other people’s property.
One can never be happy at the expense of another person. In happiness there should be no victims or conflict of interest. According to Annas (117), an individual’s life is surrounded with suffering and happiness.
While happiness is a state of being successful, suffering is a signal of failure. Suffering comes about when one feels disappointed with life or when one fails to achieves his values. Happiness is measured by the success of productive work whereas suffering results from destruction of values. If one tries to live beyond what he can afford, he can never be happy because he will always be aiming at high goals which may not be achievable. It is good to understand that, for one to be happy, he must set realistic and achievable goals which he will be able to achieve within a given time limit. Happiness is the highest purpose that one can ever live up to. It is the ultimate value of life which is pursued as one tries to maintain his life.
It is a reward earned after achieving rational goals that makes life worth living.
Morality is a good judgment of behavior that distinguishes between good and bad decisions, actions, and general way of life. A moral is a good teaching within a moral code that defines how people should live.
On the other hand, immorality is an opposition of what is moral or of the morality. It is a violation of the expected behavior in a society or community. Morality refers to cultural value or code of conduct that differentiates between what is good or bad. It also refers to what is right or wrong irrespective of what other people think. People are expected to follow the moral code regardless of what they think should be right or wrong. Not all people are able to live to the expectations and more often than not most of them divert from the morals (Hare 56).
If all people lived according to the moral codes, there would be no immorality in the society. The term morality is derived from societal norms; it cannot be defined in definite terms because it depends on the circumstances surrounding a particular situation. Morality is defined in three concepts, that is, in terms of behavior, responsibility, and identity.
Today, morality has become a complex issue that has become difficult to understand or comprehend. It defines how we should behave in the society without causing harm to ourselves or others. There are certain behaviors that are not only detrimental to ourselves but also to the people who live around us. All of us are expected to be responsible and accountable for our actions so that they do not harm anyone.
We should follow our conscience in all our actions and decisions. It is in morality that we get the principles that help the society to survive. Many people believe that, morality is a religious act although that is not true because everyone is supposed to observe a certain moral doctrine. Morality ensures that, people live in harmony with one another and treat each other with respect. It is also through morality that we are able to maintain a good relationship with our creator. Morality plays a huge role in our everyday decisions, it makes us good not only to ourselves but to the people around us (Hare 60). These decisions originate from our conscience which directs us to do good.
We should therefore let our conscience decide for us and we should never go against it. Morality creates a happy society, one that respects the rights of people. If we all follow our conscience, then there would be no trace of immorality because people would always be living to their expectations.
Morality and Happiness
As we have seen above, morality results from doing the right things, things that matter to us and those that give us satisfaction. We should all aim at pleasing ourselves and the people related to us. By doing this, we become happy and contented with our lives. Happiness is as a result of success that is earned after working tirelessly. One can never be happy if he does not want to work.
Through moral codes and societal values, we learn how we should behave and this gives us satisfaction. One cannot be moral and expects to be happy. Some behaviors such as drug abuse interfere with our conscience making us do some actions that we would not do if we were sober. These actions haunts us when we become sober depriving us off the opportunity to be happy. A person may think that, by taking another person’s property, he will acquire the satisfaction he needs, but this is not the case, because one is left with guilt that haunts him for the rest of his life making him unhappy (Adams 27). Many philosophers hold that, in order to be happy we must live our life. Life existed before we came into being, and it will be there long after we are gone. We should therefore live as we are and transmit the consecrated live to others.
We all have a desire to live and the fear of death. We feel as if we will live a void after we die and that’s why we find ourselves working hard to ensure that such a void will not be left. Every one of us has a very short period to live; we should therefore ensure that we live happily. This cannot be achieved if our actions and decisions are not thoughtful of others. Happy living is associated with morality; this has resulted into human civilization. Human beings have created an ideal idea of what it means to be happy. It is not living according to our ancestors that will make us happy but according to human civilization.
Many things have changed which requires an upright mind to recognize them and to act positively to them (Annas 45). With technology, some moral codes have eroded and others have come up, for instance, we do not have to give a seat for an elderly man in a bus because there are so many buses carrying people. Happiness is the food to our life and it gives us direction. When we are happy, we get motivated to work more productively in order to be even happier. It is through happiness that we get the desire to help other members of the society to achieve their goals. It also directs us on the path to follow for more satisfaction hence we become successful in life.
It is the significance which we affix to happiness that causes our life to be splendid. The moral pretense we live in creates in us a concealing outfit that directs the contemplation of our acts. “With rare hypocrisy, we find moralities upon principles of duty, of justice, of love, of the fear of heaven, and of hell” (Anon 8). By stripping them, we find the factual purpose of life; that is the look out for happiness. There is a certain group of people in our communities who have not been able to find happiness because of immorality. They indulge themselves in immoral behaviors such as robbery and prostitution to earn a living.
Even though they are able to meet their basic needs, they can never be happy because they are not fulfilling their purpose in life.
In authenticity, man feels affection for and lives in this world only through and in support of happiness. By changing his responsiveness, he develops his feelings and does well instead of being immoral which turns out to be one of the indispensable states of his happiness. If the standard of happiness gushes out from personal awareness, it will protect us from dissatisfactions. The belief of happiness from time to time occasions decent frustrations but at least happiness has a positive discrimination towards honesty and the vigor of a universal and unavoidable law. Happiness depends primarily on the honest thoughts, for that reason, let us grant happiness candidly the foremost place, since, triumphantly, it has refused to accept and is defying all the endeavors to suppress it. I am happy because I believe I am moral. However, this does not mean that I have fully succeeded in life.
I am in the process of fulfilling my purpose in life and this gives me satisfaction. The desire of my life is to achieve the highest level of education which will enable me acquire a decent job with a decent salary. With this, I will be able to look after my family and the less privileged members of the society.
Adams Merrihew Robert.
Finite and infinite goods: A framework for Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Anon. The morality of Happiness, 1914. 14th Sept.
2010.http://www.oldandsold.com/articles06/happiness-14.shtml Annas, Julia. The Morality of happiness, Oxford Scholarship online. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Hare, John. The Moral Gap: Kantian Ethics, Human Limits, and God’s Assistance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.