Are You Morally Consistent?
A great many people are not self-consistent in their lives, and that makes them unhappy on a very deep, unconscious level. The people who are truly happy have learned to make their actions consistent with their desires, and have planned to keep the greater part of their lives consistent with their moral values.
I see so much deep unhappiness everywhere I go, that I really want to help people. I see people who are staying awake at night, sleepless with worry about their finances, and then they go out and spend money on something they don’t need, in a desperate attempt to make themselves feel better–but that puts them further in debt, and makes the day when they can sleep soundly even further off!
This is a guide for you to think about making your actions morally consistent with your values, to know that you are reflecting in your everyday actions those values which are important to you, and that I hope will help you be a happier person and more at peace with yourself.
Your Checkbook Reflects Your Morality
Every dollar you spend sends a message to someone. That message is, “I approve of what you’re doing.” But do you know what that dollar actually approves of? Does it go to a company that treats its workers fairly? If you knew that that tomato on your hamburger was picked by an American citizen for basically slave wages, in unhealthy or even poisonous conditions, would it taste as good? If your checkbook is a moral statement, then you need to make sure that what you spend your money on reflects those values you profess–or you may wind up one day feeling sick to find out that your dollars spent on a certain product or service were used to support something that you think is terribly wrong. As an example: if you spend money on a product, and you discover that product was made in a foreign country that forced women to have abortions under certain circumstances, and you oppose abortion, what are your dollars saying about you? Is the money you save worth the moral cost?
Your Calendar Reflects Your Morality
Your appointment calendar is another reflection of your moral values. If you don’t spend your time and energy on the things that are important to you, why not? If your evening is taken up with television, is that what you want people to know you support? Or would you feel better and be happier if your limited time and energies were spent working towards what is really important?
We all have obligations to meet: if your free time is taken up with a second job because feeding your family or getting out of debt is important to you, then that may be the proper moral choice for you. But if your time is spent in wasteful, or worse, destructive ways, then I challenge you to view your calendar as a moral statement and to ask yourself if how you are spending your time reflects your real values. If not, perhaps it is time to sit down and figure out how to spend your time in a way that fits your values more closely.
Your Investments Reflect Your Morality
The practice of apartheid ended in South Africa largely because investors withdrew their money from companies that supported the practice. So, too, your investments reflect your moral values. Whether you have retirement savings, or other kinds of investments, ask yourself, “Do I support the business practices of this company?” and if the answer is no, then find a place to invest your money that you feel is consistent with your moral values. If you believe that a free market is important, examine the companies you invest in and ask, “Do they treat their competitors fairly and with respect in their business practices?” If not, you are actively working to defeat your own morality! (An example: I turned down a chance to make a really great return on investment. It was acquiring people’s life insurance policies for a small cash settlement, and the sooner the person died, the bigger the payout was. I not only could not bring myself to invest in it, but I terminated my association with the people who did invest in this scheme.)
Don’t forget that this includes the banks where you have core deposits (savings accounts, CDs, and IRA investments) as well as your transaction accounts (checking accounts). I did not agree with the practices of some banks, and I moved my money from the big banks to my local credit unions.
Your Smallest Action Reflects Your Morality
It’s easy to say, “I love you,” or “I respect you,” but do your actions really reflect what you say? If you say you love someone, do you do loving things? Do you treat others with politeness and respect? It seems like such a small thing, and yet you will find that by aligning your actions with your beliefs, you will be happier. After all, how much love do you really have for someone if you don’t treat them as if you love them? How much respect do you have for someone if you treat them contemptuously? It’s time to stop lying to ourselves and others and to be honest.
To Thine Own Self Be True
We’ve all heard this saying, but how many of us practice it? And yet this is the key to real, lasting happiness–knowing that your life is consistent with your ideals. I challenge you to think a little more deeply about your influence in society, and how you can make a difference simply by performing a “life audit” and ensuring that your actions really reflect your beliefs. This can be a life-transforming experience and a real eye-opener for many people who have never thought about such a thing, so I suggest that you perform this “life audit” with a loved one for support. A “life audit” can be a real shock and may become overpowering if you discover some hard truths about yourself and the way you are spending your time, money and energy, so be prepared for some fundamental examination into what your moral beliefs are, and how your actions do or do not reflect those moral beliefs.
I wish you all the happiness and peace imaginable and hope that you find a way to be true to your own core values.