2010-05-04

Morality and Joy

"The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live."
-- Ayn Rand

This is one of those Rand quotes that really highlights the level of joy and optimism in her philosophy. People have a tendency to believe that being moral and doing the right thing is a painstaking process of loading the mind up with heavy thoughts and then depriving oneself of something enjoyable.

In Rand's view, this was not morality. Rather, morality is a byproduct of rational clarity. If you know what really gives you joy in life, then you should simply embrace it and make it something that you pursue with abandon. There is never any need to hide from the things that give a person joy, or to pretend that one don't want them or need them.

The first step in Rand's world is to completely embrace whatever brings you happiness and accept it as a natural, happy thing. The second step is to focus on the long term: What will bring you the most happiness for the longest time, for the rest of your life? Your answer to that question is also the answer to the question "What should I do with my life?"