Thursday, June 7, 2012

Benjamin Franklin...

virtues to live by.

Benjamin Franklin lists 13 principles or virtues that he deems necessary or desirable.  He would work on one virtue each week for 13 weeks, with the goal of being ‘near perfect’ in the virtue for the week, before moving on to the next week.
 “I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another.” 
He would continue this process for 13 weeks.  His goal would was to have very few blemishes in each virtue during the week.  And with 13 x 4 (52) weeks in a year, he would repeat the process during the year, cycling through all 13 virtues 4 times.
"I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. I rul'd each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns. one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I cross’d these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day."
"I determined to give a week’s strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offense against Temperance, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I suppos’d the habit of that virtue so much strengthen’d, and its opposite weaken’d, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro’ a course compleat in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplish’d the first, proceeds to a second, so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots, till in the end, by a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, after a thirteen weeks’ daily examination."

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation
Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations
Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time
Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve
Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing
Industry: Lose not time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions
Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; speak accordingly
Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty
Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think you deserve
Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habitation
Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles or accidents common or unavoidable
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
Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates

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