Do you lead a beautiful life?

Ethicist Magenta Griffith once observed to me that beauty is a moral quality.

This strikes me as one of the most profound—and useful—statements on the topic that I've heard in years.

When making decisions, I frequently have cause to ask myself: What is the right thing to do? What is the honorable thing to do?

But maybe I also need to be asking: What is the beautiful thing to do?

We err if we restrict consideration of the beautiful to aesthetics. Beautiful behavior is something that we all recognize when we see it, even if we can't define it.

What is the beautiful thing to do? Well, Socrates could give you a better rule of thumb than I can. But I'll be happy to name some specifics.

Recycling is beautiful.

Making is beautiful.

Respect is beautiful.

Since the election, many of us would seem to be feeling a profound (not to mention entitled) sense of personal grievance. I understand this, but the end result (alas) in many cases seems to be that many of us want to spend our time complaining.

Well folks, I'm here to tell you: every complaint adds to the sum total of ugliness in the world.

Complaining is ugly.

Substantive discussion: now that's beautiful.