Moral Principles And How They Impact Your Life
By Ashley Brown
Updated November 18, 2019
Reviewer Avia James
Have you ever asked yourself why you make the decisions you do? If you have ever wondered why you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you do something you know you shouldn't, it is likely because of your moral principles. Everyone has these principles, but they can vary greatly from one person to another. It can be helpful to explore your moral principles, as they determine many aspects of your life.
The Free Dictionary defines moral principles as "the principles of right and wrong that are accepted by an individual or a social group." As a general rule, morals are what we use to guide our actions. There are some moral principles that most people agree on, and others that differ from group to group and person to person. Many people are able to follow moral principles by following laws.
When You Don't Live by Your Moral Principles
It is easy to make small compromises in our moral principles. We do this by rationalizing our actions. We do or say something that we know we don't think is right, but we find a way to explain this action or statement to ourselves that makes it sound like it's okay. However, deep inside, we know we have crossed a line and violated our moral principles. Compromising your morals in even a small way makes it easier to make larger compromises as well. Before you know it, you may be making poor decisions and acting in ways that you would never have imagined you could.
When you act or speak against your morals, you begin to experience guilt and shame. You feel guilty about your actions, which causes you to feel ashamed of yourself. Sticking to your moral principles helps you live a life you are proud of, which is associated with greater happiness. Here are some examples of moral principles and how they may impact your life.
- Treat Others the Way You Want to Be Treated. When you live by this moral principle, you take the time to empathize with others and try to see things through their eyes. You think about the situation they are in instead of just your own, and consider what you would want someone to do for you if you were in that situation. If everyone lived by this rule, crime and bullying would be greatly diminished. When you treat other people well, you are likely to be treated well in return.
- Speak The Truth/Do Not Lie. We all want people to be honest with us. We want to know that we are not being lied to and that we can trust people. In some cases, however, people may justify not being honest by providing reasons that sound good in the moment but violate their own morals. They may use phrases like "white lie" or "doing it for their good" to support their decision. When you're honest with other people, they will know that they can trust you, which helps establish better relationships.
- Don't Spend What You Don't Have. Some people believe that being in debt is wrong. Others do not believe that overspending is inherently wrong, but they recognize that it has an adverse effect on their life. It is important to be a good steward of what you are given. Stewardship means that you handle your finances responsibly, which includes not spending money you don't have.
- Keep Your Word. This moral principle is similar to being honest and not telling lies, but it is worth mentioning separately. If you don't keep your word (or promise), not only does your reputation suffer, but you could be harmed in retaliation. If you follow through on the things that you say you're going to do, people will trust you more. You will also trust yourself more. This leads to better personal relationships, career advancements, and a better life in general.
- Don't Take What Doesn't Belong To You. Most people would agree that you should not steal. However, many people make small compromises on a regular basis that don't line up with this principle.
Are You Living Your Moral Principles?
If you're not living in accord with the moral principles you believe in, consider taking steps to correct this. You are not living your best life if you violate your own morals. It's important that you align your actions and words with your moral principles. When you do this,the pieces of your life tend to fall into place. You will experience more happiness because you are staying true to yourself.
How Can I Live More Morally?
It can be hard to realign yourself when you let your moral principles slip. However, this doesn't have to be a permanent condition, as you can always alter your behaviors.
One way to change behavior is to set goals. Consider writing down how you want to live in a book, including goals toward achieving this life. This will help you hold yourself accountable for your own set of rules and standards.
Perhaps the most important way to live morally is to trust your instincts or what you feel deep down is right. You can't always explain what causes you to feel a certain way, but in many cases, you can tell if something feels wrong. Be sure not to take actions that makes you feel uneasy.
Following the tips above can help keep you on the right path morally. However, if you still feel like you are missing the mark, it may be time to speak with a qualified counselor.
BetterHelp can Help with Your Moral Principles
If you are struggling to identify the moral principles that matter to you, live them out in your life, or correct where they have gone wrong in the past, talking to a licensed therapist can help. A mental health professional can offer an unbiased opinion, as well as guiding you toward achieving your goals and living a life in accord with your moral principles.
The professional, licensed therapists at BetterHelp can help you examine your values and goals. If things seem to keep going wrong in your life, it could be that you aren't being true to your moral principles. Many people have experienced this, and many have gotten the help they need. Here's a look at what a couple of people had to say about the assistance they received from the counselors at BetterHelp.
"Steven is thoughtful, insightful, and caring. He has a really good understanding of who I am, and what my values are, which means he can point me in the right direction and support me."
"Sabrina is a very patient listener, she is unbiased and adaptive to my values and needs, while still challenging my thoughts and offering advice to help me be a better person."
When you your moral compass is off, you may need help figuring out what your moral principles are and how to live by them without bending the rules. When it comes to understanding what morals are and how they work, as well as how to incorporate them into your life, turning to a helping professional can make a difference.