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  • Writer's pictureYamit Armbrister

Morality's Bittersweet Tale

The problem with morality is that it is a sad story about ideals and values that we fail to live up to.

Why? Because even if most people (certainly not all) truly believe in goodness, simplicity, modesty, love, family and loyalty (values), it conflicts with giving freedom to passions, desires, laziness, more and more money, etc...and we associate passions, desires, money and convenience with happiness. Well, to achieve this happiness we are 'forced' sometimes to compromise on values.

In the past happiness was measured in finding true love, marriage, children, family, a roof over our heads and food on the table, today happiness is measured by many as achievements that are mostly materialistic (how much money we haves, how many assets, how many countries abroad we have visited) or how famous we are (how many followers on Tiktok) or how desirable we are.

Seemingly, anyone who has a lot of property (far beyond what one person can ever enjoy in life), fame, recognition, or abundance, should reach the peak of happiness and that's it, be happy. But it turns out that this is not a successful formula in mathematics because even abundantly rich people suffer from depression, sadness, boredom, resentment, or unhappiness.

Because happiness is a subjective feeling, and it does not depend only on material, fame, or abundance. Is it possible for people who are not in pursuit of realizing all their passions, desires, fame to be happy, even happier, than those for whom happiness is the number of rooms in the house, cars, horses, or shoes they have?

Now, it's not that money can't buy comfort that brings happiness, indulgence that brings happiness, sometimes money also buys health but not always. Again, this is not a math formula. There are many rich people that no amount of money and fame will buy them health or happiness no matter how many palaces they have in the most exotic islands in the world.

In the end, happiness depends on how each person defines happiness in a subjective way and if happiness is less dependent on fulfilling desires, passions, fame, looking at what the neighbor has compared to me, there is a better chance to be happy without giving up on important values in life.

If I compare my life to multi-millionaires or a celebrity, then I should be miserable. If I can't visit most of the countries of the world and this is what defines happiness, then in advance I should give up on being happy. And today's exposure to the great wealth that some people have in the world does not help those for whom material is the definition of happiness. The great abundance that exists in stores and the efforts all companies invest in convincing us that buying their product will buy us happiness does not help either, for those whose material defines their happiness.

So, what do we do with this pursuit for happiness?

Nietzsche said, "If you have something to live for, you can tolerate almost any how (of living)."

In the end happiness depends on what we think is meaningful to us. If we perceive that being alive and healthy is the most significant thing, we can live a pretty happy life even without financial abundance. If we define happiness in good relationship, children, family, friends, we may care less about how many times a year we are abroad or how many cars we have. If we define happiness in the feeling of loving and being loved, in spreading goodness, we can be happy with being anonymous but to our closest circle.

Maybe one day we will be able to find happiness if we define what happiness is for us, and if the price of reaching it is worth it. We may be happier if instead of teaching our children that money guarantees happiness, we'll teach them that abundance does not necessarily bring happiness, that fame may even bring exactly the opposite of happiness. Maybe we will be less bitter, spoiled, lazy and miserable.

As long as we continue to associate happiness with material, achievements, fame, and as long as the rest of the world will continue to measure happiness this way, not only will we probably never reach happiness and peacefulnes, but on the way to achieving more and more 'happiness' we will fall further and further down on important values, ideals and the morality of humanity will be lost.

Resilience is directly related to the expectations we have from our temporary life, the meaning we associate with life, how we define happiness and the ideals we hold high.

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