Do you seek more happiness in your life? Joy? Fulfillment? Success? Satisfaction?
If you seek these things, then living a more virtuous life could be just the answer for you.
But what exactly are virtues and which ones are most important? And how do virtues help us to live a better life?
The dictionary defines virtue as “a quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.”
A better definition is: “A virtue is a trait of character that enables a person to flourish.”
Virtues keep us balanced. They prevent the excesses and deficiencies that can lead to regret or guilt. Research has shown that guilt is one of the most devastating emotions a person can have. Guilt has destroyed many lives. And the fewer regrets we have, the better. We all intrinsically know that.
By being balanced, we are able to better enjoy every aspect of life and to be better friends, spouses, parents, employees, and bosses.
Virtues help us to get along better with people and to build better relationships. They help us to avoid many of the pitfalls of life. They keep us from sabotaging our own success.
Virtues help us to keep our lives moving forward and upward.
Virtues definitely aren’t something that most of us often think about but they can be life changing.
Let’s learn more.
Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues:
Benjamin Franklin is one of the most famous advocates for virtues and virtuous living.
In addition to being one of the founders of America, Benjamin Franklin was a great scientist, inventor, statesman, and writer. He was a source of great wisdom.
Early in his adult life, Benjamin Franklin launched his Moral Perfection Project. In this project, he defined 13 virtues that he wanted to aspire to.
Benjamin Franklin’s virtues were pragmatic, being those virtues that he felt would get him ahead in life and business. He believed they would keep him balanced and prepare him to appropriately handle just about any situation that might come up in both his personal and professional life.
Benjamin attributed much of his success to practicing these 13 virtues.
Here are Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues along with his personal definition of what they meant to him.
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order: Let all things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself (i.e. waste nothing).
6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
For him to successfully integrate these 13 virtues into his life, Benjamin Franklin devised a daily monitoring system. He kept a card with him at all times that contained a chart. The chart had seven columns, one for each day of the week, and thirteen rows, one for each virtue.
Here is what his chart might have looked like:
|Day of Week|
| 1. Temperance:
Eat not to dullness. Drink not to elevation.
| 2. Silence:
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.
Avoid trifling conversation.
| 3. Order:
Let all your things have their places. Let each
part of your business have its time.
| 4. Resolution:
Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without
fail what you resolve.
| 5. Frugality:
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself.
| 6. Industry:
Lose no time. Be always employed in something
useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
| 7. Sincerity:
Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly.
| 8. Justice:
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits
that are your duty.
| 9. Moderation:
Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as
you think they deserve.
| 10. Cleanliness:
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or
| 11. Tranquility:
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidnets common or
| 12. Chastity:
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to
dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or
another’s peace or reputation.
| 13. Humility:
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Each time he violated one of his virtues, he would put a small dot in the appropriate box on the chart. Each week, he would focus on one virtue, trying not to have any violations for that virtue for the entire week. The next week, he would focus on the next virtue, and continue in this manner until he had focused on all thirteen virtues for one week.
Once he had completed the 13-week cycle, he would erase the chart and start over with Temperance, the first virtue on his list, and go through the process again. He did this over and over again, completing the 13-week process four times each year, every year.
Benjamin Franklin strongly believed that living a virtuous life would make him more successful and a better person. As they say, “the proof is in the pudding” and Benjamin Franklin’s incredible legacy of wisdom and accomplishment is a strong testament that virtues do matter and that strictly adhering to virtues can indeed make you a better person… and possibly even a great person.
9 Virtues From Aristotle:
Aristotle, who lived from 384 B.C. to 322 B.C., was one of the world’s greatest thinkers and philosophers. He was a student of Plato, a tutor to Alexander the Great, and made significant contributions to logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, botany, ethics, politics, agriculture, medicine, and even dance, and theatre.
Aristotle believed that happiness wasn’t about things or power or prestige. Instead, happiness was about virtue.
According to Aristotle, pursuing virtue will keep a person balanced, avoiding the misery caused by excess or deficiency.
Aristotle believed that focusing on virtues would give people good judgment so that they would get along better with people and know exactly what to do in virtually every situation.
Aristotle believed that virtue led to Eudaimonia, a flourishing life.
Here are 9 additional virtues Aristotle believed were important for a happy, balanced, flourishing life. Also given are the deficiencies and excesses for each virtue, which are vices to avoid.
(Unprincipled, Littleness of Soul)
(Greatness of Soul, High-Mindedness, Strong Moral Principles)
Note: Aristotle also included Temperance in his list of virtues, but it was omitted from the above table to avoid duplicates because Temperance was the first virtue on Benjamin Franklin’s list. Aristotle’s Vice of Deficiency for Temperance was Asceticism (Rigorous self-denial) and his Vice of Excess was Gluttony.
14 Virtues From the Bible:
Whether or not you are a believer, the Bible is a great source of wisdom.
In Colossians 3:12-14, the Apostle Paul gives us eight virtues to aspire to:
4. Gentleness (quiet strength)
6. Bearing with others
8. Love (the most important of them all)
In Galatians 5:22-23a, Apostle Paul gives us 6 more virtues, which he calls fruits of the spirit (Note: Love, kindness, and gentleness were also part of this list but have been omitted because they were already included in the above list from Colossians):
6 Additional Virtues to Consider:
In addition to the above 36 virtues, here are six more that are deemed worthy of consideration:
1. Gratitude: This is magical. Gratitude for what we already have brings joy, happiness, and contentment into our lives and attracts even more blessings to us.
2. Persistence: This is critical. Calvin Coolidge said it best when he said: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
3. Commitment: Without commitment, there can be no lasting success or achievement.
4 Honesty: If we can’t be trusted, we won’t go very far in life.
5 Discipline: Without discipline, there can be no growth, progress, or mastery.
6 Wisdom: Seek wisdom in all that you do. Wisdom is the foundation for all success in life.
To receive the benefits of virtues, you must internalize them and integrate them into your very being. Here is your Cerebral Advantage Action Plan for doing just that.
Step 1: Select between 6 and 13 of the above virtues that you want to focus on. These should be virtues that you believe will make you a better person and that you already know you have a problem with.
Step 2: Make a table similar to the one Benjamin Franklin used listing the days of the week in columns and your selected virtues in rows.
Step 3: Each week, focus on one of the virtues, trying not to get any violations for that virtue during the week.
Step 4: At the end of each day, denote any violations of the virtues on the chart.
Step 5: At the end of each week, total the number of violations for each virtue.
Step 6: In a notebook, document the number of violations of each virtue for the week.
Step 7: In the same notebook, document the total number of violations of each virtue at the end of each month and at the end of each year.
Step 8: Strive to reduce and eventually eliminate violations of every virtue week-over-week, month-over-month, and year-over-year.
Step 9: Keep your virtues constantly in mind so that you can begin modifying your behavior to stop violations before they occur.
Step 10: Identify any situations that repeatedly cause you to violate one of your selected virtues and develop an action plan for that particular situation so that you can better handle it.
Step 11: Periodically, review your progress. If you find that you have mastered a particular virtue, replace it with another one. Likewise, if you discover that one of the virtues not on your list is especially problematic for you, add it to your list and start working on it.
Virtues are something we all should aspire to.
Virtues build character and character builds our destiny.
Decide today to start living a virtuous life. You’ll be amazed at how much better your life will become.
Virtues are right thinking in action.
Think Right. Live Well.
Other Articles You Might Like:
● The Secret to Making Bold Improvements in Your Life
● The Power of Precise Thinking
● Your Mind Is Like a Garden. Tend It Well.
● 25 Characteristics of Successful People
● There is Magic in the Mornings! Become an Early Riser and Get More Out of Life.
● David Kekich’s 100 Credos: A Formula For Successful Living
● How to Use Questions to Supercharge Your Critical Thinking
● Bullet Book Summary: Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret”