Monday, February 22, 2010

Happiness and Ethics Make Good Bed Partners

In law school, you "learn" a lot about ethics.  As a lawyer, you're required to take ethics classes every reporting period - to "learn" friendly reminders of what's OK  - or not.  Something I've learned over the years is that you can teach classes and make attending those classes mandatory until you're blue in the face.  But by the time you're an adult, you're either ethical or you're not.  In other words, a class isn't going to teach it into you.

I believe being ethical and being happy are completely intertwined concepts - happiness cannot exist without ethics.  Yes, sometimes it feels good to be bad and you get a charge of exhilaration from it.  I proved that notion quite well in college.  But over the long term, unethical behavior comes from people unhappy at their core.  Kind of like the imagery of Satan (if you believe in that).  He may seem like the happiest guy at the party - he's exuberant, gregarious and draws people in.  But he's also the most unethical (he created the concept, I'm sure), and at his core, he's a miserable fallen angel who pretends to be happy in his eternal position of finding people to damn. 

I was on the receiving end of two unethical people last week.   One happened in my "real" life, one happened here in cyberspace.  The details don't matter and I wouldn't share them anyway, tempting though it may be.  I could rant, rave, shout obscenities (I did do that, just in the privacy of my own home) and fling accusations all over the place.  All of the things that I want to say could be true, but the responsiblity is misplaced.

The truth is that I trusted people with work of mine.  One I knew I shouldn't, but did anyway, hoping for the best.  One I didn't check out, I just trusted.  I have no one to "blame" but myself.  I assumed the best  in two different situations by trusting them with my work and I got burned.

Sometimes being ethical isn't very much fun and it can often be in the minority.  But it is always necessary for my happiness and that's an important realization to make.  Because the alternative isn't an option.  I hold myself and my family to a high degree of ethics - even if it's not popular.  I can thank my parents for that.  And thank Husband's parents for doing the same with him.  

Do you want to start your own Happiness Project?  Check out Gretchen Rubin's book and blog if so, or do it with me - I'll help.  
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