In his 1726 autobiography, Benjamin Franklin, also known as one of America’s founding presidents and the dude on the $100 bill, shared his thirteen virtues that he strived to adhere to throughout his daily life, to which he attributed much of his success.
According to his Wikipedia, Benjamin was a “leading writer, printer, political philosopher, politician, Freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.” With respect to his multi-versed life work, his thirteen virtues are balanced upon quite simple and common wisdom.
And they are:
- 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 employed 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 extremes; 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 dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Benjamin prescribed focusing on one virtue a week until it has been mastered, then starting on the next virtue the following week. By doing the personal work to start shaping your character after these virtues you will not only see a shift in your mindset, but you will start seeing the benefits of these virtues in your work and home life.
In working with virtues such as these, you may notice habits you may have fallen into and problems dropping, as well as gaining more clarity around what you are passionate and purposeful about.
Which virtues speak to you?
Benjamin Franklin art by Jean luc Comperat. This and more available on canvas at link.