Monday, August 2, 2010

Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

The slower days of summer are the perfect time to concentrate on issues of character. Many times during the school year we’re so focused on academic subjects that we tend to forget about topics that don’t need to be crossed off our daily schedules.

Benjamin Franklin implemented a rigorous character improvement program for himself. He selected thirteen virtues that he considered to be lacking in himself and worked intentionally to improve on them in his life.

The thirteen virtues that Benjamin Franklin strove to practice more effectively are these:
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; 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.
(Taken from Wikipedia)

In order to remind himself of these virtues and to keep track of his progress, Benjamin Franklin implemented a small notebook with a chart for every virtue. The Art of Manliness (in this case, it’s also appropriate for young ladies in training) has a neat chart that you can download for free to help you adhere to these particular thirteen virtues. They also have thirteen lessons, each focusing on a different virtue.

I don’t know about you, but I see quite a few virtues listed above that could use a little work in my own life. Perhaps we’ll make the execution of these thirteen virtues a family project for the rest of this summer.

Q4U: What about you?