Life Lessons From George Washington – Happiness and Moral Duty

By William Kristoph

“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” – George Washington

Think about the last time you felt truly happy. It might have been an hour ago, or a few days ago. Hopefully, it wasn’t years ago. We all have moments in life where we are truly happy. How many of those moments involved doing something that was right? How many of them involved being with others? How many were on something fleeting, like a new car or a new toy?

George Washington suggests that our happiness is tied to our moral duty. Moral duty is not summed up by an object. It is felt through actions and people. Washington lived in an obviously strenuous time. He led troops, and saw many people die. But, he obviously felt that there was a moral obligation to lead. An obligation to break away from outside rule. A duty to the future of  a fledgling country to fight for our independence, and ultimately, happiness.

There’s not quite that much drama in my life. But, Washington’s point definitely applies. Instead of looking at the selfish and looking inward, I can look to help others. I can teach my child to do good works. I can pause a moment instead of getting frustrated and offer a helping hand to someone. Those are all very small versions of moral duty compared to Washington’s. Perhaps, if we all made a small choice here and there to contribute a good to the world instead of a nothing or a negative, we’d be happier with ourselves and happier together?