Where Do You Get Your Morals?

This is what I was asked the other night (more or less–though the question may have been worded differently), because apparently I have a pretty well-established moral compass, considering my current life circumstance (i.e. college). As providing improvised yet thoughtful answers to deep questions and, well, talking, are not my strong suits, I gave a pretty haphazard response about my personality and relating that to inner-motivation and people-pleasing–major ISFJ traits. None of what I said was inaccurate, but I wasn’t really satisfied with my answer. So I’m going to attempt to work out a more elaborate response here.

In all honesty, I’ve never explicitly thought about the origins of my morals. In that respect, I don’t think; just act. I don’t recommend adhering to that life advice in any other situation, but when it comes to following my moral compass, that mindset seems to work for me.

I’m going to reference back to my Myers-Briggs personality to try and exemplify what I’m saying. ISFJs are easily motivated people; we function with a work-first-and-play-later mindset and are motivated by the sense of accomplishment that arrives after completing a task (more on that here). That is simply how our minds are set up. So whenever a fellow student or parent or teacher compliments me on my work ethic, my immediate response is Why wouldn’t you strive to finish your work right away? I don’t make the extra effort to be productive or finish assigned tasks. I don’t think; just act.

In all honesty, I don’t know from where I’m drawing my morals. At this point, what I believe to be right and wrong has been so thoroughly established and followed in my mind, that attempting to stray from that isn’t a possibility to me, as though I was “made” to act a certain way.

With this being said, I don’t actually think everyone is born programmed to follow certain morals alone. But I do think everyone is born with traits that are likely to adhere to particular morals and that those morals can be shaped early in life. At the risk of entering the nature vs. nurture debate, I’d say both our environment and personality partake in forming our sense of right and wrong. As I believe the bulk of this shaping happens early on (though morals are subject to change throughout life), the environment involved in this process would have to be family (parents), some form of early education, and any other group constantly present in your young life.

So naturally, I’d have to conclude my morals were primarily formed as a result of parental and educational influence, which have in turn interacted with my personality and created the moralistic mindset I now follow. I can’t cite a specific lesson or life event that took place in my early years that solidified any of my morals–which frustrates me to no end, mind you; perks of practically non-existent memory–but the above is what I believe is likely what happens to us regarding morality formation.

Now I’m interested: Where do YOU think our morals originate from, dear reader? Family? School? Faith? Something else entirely? I’m curious to learn about other perspectives on this–hopefully yours is a lot simpler than mine…

Have a wonderful week! Keep on following your compass.

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