Benjamin Franklin’s Virtues for a Good Life
13 Virtues from one of the wisest men in history
Going from poverty to a state of remarkable acknowledgement as a statesman, author, publisher, among other feats of his personality, Benjamin Franklin started a successful printing business and grew wealthy with little formal education.
In his autobiography, where he writes about his life and career adding up teachings, lessons and many other faces of life along with setbacks and moments of progress, he mentions how he’s always been interested in reading books, so much that he would spend his small payments to buy them.
Having done a considerable amount of reading, having lived and experienced a fair amount of life in various ways, Benjamin Franklin made up a list of virtues to which he was devoted to follow every single day of his life. Given the meaningful impact of these virtues on his road to a fulfilling life, he’d decided to pass them on to the generations to come simply because we would be able to immensely benefit from them, just like him.
He would present the virtue alongside a short explanation on how to practice it. The following 13 virtues are presented in the same order and sequence as it’s shown in his autobiography.
1 — Temperance
Says not to eat more than you need, to the point of feeling sick, besides avoiding food that grows the desire to eat even though you’re already full, is another point. Don’t drink till you get drunk is another face of it.
2 — Silence
Don’t speak, unless it’s to benefit others or yourself while avoiding superficial talks. It’s about communicating things that can make this world better instead of just talking aimlessly without providing value or insight. Personally, this one goes hand in hand with Medium, because we’re always aiming to write ideas capable of improving someone’s life.
3 — Order
Place everything in its due place, besides, set certain hours of the day to do your tasks and any activity of importance for you.
4 — Resolution
Decide which actions you’re going to perform and do so without procrastination. You commit yourself to doing something and that helps sharpening your will.
5 — Frugality
Avoid unnecessary debts and expenditures which don’t do good for you or for others. Waste nothing.
6 — Industry
Don’t neglect the time you have at your disposal to do good and to work. Always be busy with something, be it a project or anything that creates value for you or for others. Free yourself from unnecessary actions.
7 — Sincerity
Deceive no one, think with justice and without malice. Always talk taking into account these points.
8 — Justice
Do not injure anyone’s image with injustice or neglecting good that a person deserves. If you can acknowledge someone by his deed, do so.
9 — Moderation
Avoid extreme, put up with injuries as much as you can.
10 — Cleanliness
Do not tolerate dirt , be it on the body, on the clothes or in the housing.
11 — Tranquility
Do not let yourself be disturbed by trivialities or common and inevitable incidents. Setbacks are part of life, understand that and don’t let your peace and hope be washed away because of them.
12 — Chastity
Don’t use sex except for health purposes and procreation. On top of that, don’t do it to the extreme, causing weakness, injuries to reputation or disturbance of peace, be it yours or someone’s else.
13 — Humility
Imitate Jesus and Socrates. The most remarkable trait to incorporate regarding Socrates in this Virtue is how he persuades people by humbly asking questions which leads the listener to find the answer for himself.
The result of applying these virtues is priceless over the years. When you first set yourself to live by these ideas, you’ll be placing a seed in the garden of life. As each day goes by, you water the seed and slowing its roots begin to grow. Sooner than later this plant will grow and with it, all the positive and memorable deeds of your journey will come back to you. The plant of virtues will grow so much, that it’ll become a tree providing fruits for the people, the birds, and whoever can be benefited by them.
That’s how we grow our garden on this earth.
By doing good, we receive good.
Don’t underestimate your daily decisions.
They are the foundation of who you are, and who you can become.