Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues

I’ve often failed with new year’s resolutions, this isn’t exactly a resolution, it’s just something I’ll be attempting starting 2016.
I recently came across Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues. Simply said, he came up with a system to practice one thing (I would call it a value) for 1 week, then moved on to the next, for 13 weeks. He repeated those 13 virtues 4 times a year, which makes it 52 weeks, exactly how long a year is.
What I loved about that is that:

  • The virtues were general enough to be applied to many aspects of one’s everyday life.
  • One can effortlessly sustain probably anything for 1 week (unlike a month, which is sometimes too long for some of us).
  • You can choose your own personal virtues which are even more relevant to you.
  • This is a great way to practice improving things over and over again, until they become natural.

Here’s a quick brief of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues:

  1. Temperance: “Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.” Easily applied to eating habits. This doesn’t necessarily have to apply to alcohol.
  2. Silence: “Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.”
    Cut out complaining, gossip, and anything that you’re just saying to seek attention, give yourself that love.
  3. Order: “Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.”
    Simply said, work hard, play hard! We often take either/or for granted. Could also be applied to physical objects around your house.
  4. Resolution: “Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.”
    Get shit done!
  5. Frugality: “Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.”
    Become more aware of your spending habits and any resources you might be taking advantage of (electricity, water, food …)
  6. Industry: “Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.”
    We spend way too much time on Facebook and other platforms.
  7. Sincerity: “Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
    Don’t be an asshole, practice compassion and empathy.
  8. Justice: “Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
    Think of the consequences of your actions, you might be free to choose for yourself, but don’t hurt others on the way.
  9. Moderation: “Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
    Stop the drama.
  10. Cleanliness: “Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.”
    I would easily apply this to the useless clutter I usually have on my desk, and in my room.
  11. 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.”
    Even though the word directly relates to sexual intercourse, in our society we can apply it to how we treat our partners and appreciate them.
  12. Tranquility: “Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
    Stop fussing over the small things. Find a way to connect with yourself everyday, whether that is getting in touch with nature, meditation, writing, or prayer.
  13. Humility: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”
    Find your own inspiration, stay modest, be open to others’ differences.

How Franklin Documented:

Benjamin Franklin kept a daily journal, he didn’t write about his experience, he just made 1 dot for every time he fell short on one of the virtues for that day.

This is a great way to keep things hassle free, simple, and easy to compare when you’re repeating the process. The most important part here is awareness and honesty.

I encourage anyone who’s interested to share their journey with me as well.

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