#272. Dad, what is moral elevation?

The feeling you get when you witness a virtuous act that makes you want to act virtuous too.

Moral Elevation: That Fuzzy Feeling of Being Virtuous

The ability to see somebody do good has a profound positive impact on your psyche and general attitude towards life.

We are immersed in busy lives and struggle to get through the day without reflecting on helping others or taking on the challenges of the less fortunate. Reflecting on the plight and needs of others is challenging and we need constant reminders to do good in a world filled with hardship and negativity. Our mindset can be influenced and elevated to do good; by observing what good others are doing. These reminders are important. 

The feeling you get when you witness a virtuous act that makes you want to act virtuously too is also known as moral elevation. 

Witnessing acts of exceptional moral virtue by someone else prompts this emotion. Buying food for a homeless person, donating clothing to an orphanage or buying a poppy on Remembrance Day. It is an emotional response to a virtuous act. It creates a fuzzy feeling inside you that is difficult to explain. 

I am certain that we have all – at least once – experienced moral elevation. For me, it was the first time I witnessed somebody take off their shoes in the dead of winter and give them to a homeless person, without thinking of the consequences of his actions on his health and welfare. When the homeless person asked, “what about your feet?”. The stranger responded, “ I still have my socks”. That act of altruism changed my outlook on life. I have tried not to overthink being kind, virtuous and considerate ever since.

I do not mean to redefine morality nor do I want to impose a new value system on being moral. I merely want to understand what drives people to acts of kindness. Some claim that morality has a specific source and is absolute and unchangeable. Others say that it is possible to elevate your moral compass by being around people who are virtuous, generous and kind.  

Despite two different schools of thought, it does not change the response we have when we observe goodness. Observing and doing may have the same benefits. I would go even further and argue that observing a good moral act may have a longer-lasting impact than performing a good moral act. When you observe something good (or bad), you tend to reflect on your moral code far deeper because your brain measures your morality in line with your values.

Moral elevation can be used to improve relationships and self-esteem. It can also help us to make the world a better, kinder and caring place. 

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