Happiness is a moral obligation

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Dennis Prager
Happiness Is a Moral Obligation

For much of my life, I, like most people, regarded the pursuit of happiness as largely a selfish pursuit. One of the great revelations of middle agehas been that happiness, far from being only a selfish pursuit, is a moral demand.

When we think of character traits we rightly think of honesty, integrity, moral courage, and acts of altruism.Few people include happiness in any list of character traits or moral achievements.

But happiness is both.

Happiness -- or at least acting happy, or at the very least not inflicting one'sunhappiness on others -- is no less important in making the world better than any other human trait.

With some exceptions, happy people make the world better and unhappy people make it worse. This istrue on the personal (micro) and global (macro) planes.

On the micro plane:

Consider the effects of an unhappy parent on a child. Ask people raised by an unhappy parent if that unhappiness hurtthem.

Consider the effects of an unhappy spouse on a marriage.

Consider the effects of unhappy children on their parents. I know a couple that has four middle-aged children of whom three aretruly extraordinary people, inordinately well adjusted and decent. The fourth child has been unhappy most of his life and has been a never-ending source of pain to the parents. That one child'sunhappiness has always overshadowed the joy that the parents experience from the other three children. Hence the saying that one is no happier than one's least happy child.

Consider the effects of abrooding co-worker on your and your fellow workers' morale -- not to mention the huge difference between working for a happy or a moody employer.

We should regard bad moods as we do offensive bodyodor. Just as we shower each day so as not to inflict our body odors on others, so we should monitor our bad moods so as not to inflict them on others. We shower partly for ourselves and partly out of...
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