Mowing the lawn, duty, living your dream, and happiness

Spock Duty

I liked the recent New York Times column by Roger Cohen, Mow the lawn, for questioning the all too common advice to “live your dream” or “pursue your passion” as the path to happiness.  He argues that sometimes it is more important to focus on what we need to do even if it is mundane. Dreams are important and can motivate people.  The evidence is strong that doing what you are good at tends to make you happier. But our self centered and narcissistic society puts too little emphasis fulfilling our responsibilities, doing our part for others’ benefit, and duty. Emmanuel Kant believed we should live our lives to be worthy of happiness. If we are fortunate happiness will follow. The stoics looked to duty and virtue as a source of happiness.  They recognized that we live in a society where the well being of others is necessary for our own. Spock personified reason and duty.