“What more valuable than Gold? Diamonds. Than Diamonds? Virtue.”Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1751
In 1726, Benjamin Franklin designed a system of virtues in hopes of achieving moral perfection. Tonight, I will follow in his footsteps. Upon discovering that perfection is not the actions of good and bad, or that it is not black and white, Franklin found it difficult to monitor his progress. He created a list of virtues and a system of organization to help him perfect his daily life. Although I am no inventor, entertainer, nor diplomat, I will attempt his lifelong work to achieve moral perfection in the span of two weeks. As a part of my self-journey, I have decided to adopt five virtues that I will be using to try and achieve Franklin’s idea of ‘moral perfection.’ Through the use of a blog system, I will document my progress with the virtues I have chosen that will best represent the parts of myself that I would like to improve.
The five virtues that I have selected are tranquility, silence, moderation, patience, and contentment. Three of the five virtues, tranquility, silence, and moderation, come from Franklin’s original list. I have ultimately adapted them slightly from Franklin’s original concepts to better fit my life and the goal I am trying to achieve. The last two virtues are concepts that I decided on to help better myself. For tranquility, I have decided that I will try and make peace with things that I cannot control. I plan to do this by writing a list each night of things I cannot change, and cross the list off before I go to bed. This will provide me release from the stress of outside factors, while also allowing me, through the use of checking each idea off, to feel accomplished. As I have found that my life is very hectic, I would like to use the virtue, silence, to take ten minutes out of my day to sit quietly with no other distractions and reflect on my day. I think this virtue will provide me with a way to slow down and really appreciate the good aspects of my life. The last virtue of Franklin’s that I have chosen, moderation, will be applied to my busy daily life. I spend most of my time either at soccer or doing school work. For at least twenty minutes each week, I would like to spend time enjoying a hobby of mine. I would also like to set aside one day of the weekend to spend completely with family and friends. I need to connect more with the people and hobbies in my life that I enjoy, and with the practice of moderation, I hope I can achieve that. One of the hobbies that I selected for myself is patience, more particularly, patience with other people. I often want to rush in and share my own ideas before others can share theirs. I also sometimes become impatient and frustrated with others when they do not understand or agree with my ideas. By practicing patience, I hope to slow down and listen to others before jumping to conclusions. Lastly, I have selected the virtue of contentment to practice. When practicing contentment, I would like to journal each night about the things in my life that I am satisfied with. For each virtue, I will rank how successful I was at completing each one every day on a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. I hope this will ultimately allow me to become more content with my place in the world by allowing me to realize all of the great aspects of my life.
These five virtues have been meticulously selected for the purpose of benefiting myself, and by correlation, bettering the lives of those around me. My hope is not to achieve perfection, but to find some semblance of self-improvement throughout this journey. I have always hidden my pessimism behind the idea that I was ‘just being realistic.’ However, with this project, I plan to gain hope for a happy and successful future. I may not achieve perfection, but I believe that this experiment will make me have a more open-minded and positive outlook on my life.
“Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.”Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1738
November 9, 2021
- Tranquility: 2: I was able to begin my journal about my progress with tranquility today. However, I was disappointed to find that it was hard for me to come up with outside factors that I was willing to make peace with.
- Silence: 1: My day today was very busy and I was unable to find time to sit in silence by myself. I went from school to an eye appointment, to workout, to ACT tutoring, and then home to study and shower. By the time all of my other tasks were completed, I was too tired to try and find silence, besides the time for me to sleep.
- Moderation: 4: Despite my busy day, I actually was able to moderate the enjoyment of other activities to my typical day of school and sports. Before my eye appointment, I was able to meet my mom and younger sister to go and get a juice and chat. After the appointment, I stopped with my sister for ice cream. In between my workout and ACT tutoring, I was able to enjoy a meal with most of my family, which is somewhat rare as we are all very busy. Lastly, I was able to catch the end of a facetime call with my older sister, who is at college. I felt very successful in my practice of moderation today. Although it was a bit unconventional and sporadic, I found time to enjoy with my family.
- Patience: 2: I was very tired today, and almost immediately found that after arriving at school, my patience was already wearing thin. Someone, who I am not necessarily fond of, made a comment today and I did reply in a slightly unkind way. I also was rushing to leave a class that I did not enjoy. I felt like I was doing the best I could, but I need to take time to think over my responses more.
- Contentment: 3: I started my journaling about the things in my life that I am content with. I was able to come up with some meaningful ideas, however I often found myself thinking more about the things that I do not feel content with in my life. Journaling felt like a good start, but I need to improve my mindset.