Daily Virtue

Benjamin Franklin had a list of thirteen values. He says he worked on one a week, putting a dot in his book for each time he did something against it.

Last week I started something similar, but daily instead of weekly. Some days were good. Friday was Frugality, and that was the day I went shopping — lots of shopping. Oops.

I discovered that one day isn’t enough time to work at it. It’s enough time to be proud when you hit an easy one, but not enough to really work on a tough one. We won’t mention how some are easy on the days you stay home.

Another question is which values belong on my list. Over the years, I’ve seen several, and last week found even more.

I could be a SHE (Side-Tracked Home Executive) and keep looking and refining until I have the perfect list, but then I’d never start. So, I’m taking all the lists I find, and just working through them. The theory is that the more important virtues will appear more often. I notice, though, that some I need to work on are rarely listed, so I might create a list of my own to run through as well.

The first list will be Ben’s. The full list, including his summaries, can be found in many places. Yes, I left Ben’s spelling intact.

  • Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  • Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  • 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; i.e., waste nothing.
  • Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  • Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  • Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • Moderation. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  • Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  • Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Changing Minds Values Page has many other lists. It also quotes Ben’s reasoning.

Some of the values look dated, but aren’t as dated as they seem at first glance. I question his choice of examples for humility, but it’s still a good value to cultivate. Chastity is different from abstinence. Abstinence means none; chastity means no adultery.

Temperance and moderation overlap somewhat, but not entirely. Same with moderation and frugality. I’m trying to loose the classic ten pounds, and save money towards a new kitchen, so the double-whammy isn’t a bad thing.

Monday, I’ll restart with Temperance, and do an entire week.

Meanwhile, does anyone have any other lists or individual values?



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