The central theme behind all of my virtues was productivity, whether this be in terms of creativity, school work, cleanliness, or my own physical and mental wellbeing. I believe that living and thinking in a passive manner is harmful, if one really wants to make an impact one has to actually take actions with the intention of actually going through with them. Don’t just worry about and lament your problems, try to solve them. I quickly discovered that, in order to make measurable progress, I needed to focus on specific virtues rather than broadly resolving to improve at all five. Every day I would take two of the five and genuinely attempt measurable progress. The results varied (as I will expand on later) but I believe that having virtues and being mindful of my own behavior was beneficial in itself.
My greatest challenge in this whole endeavor was not a specific virtue but a common problem that spanned several. I faced an epic struggle with the virtue of Resolution. Resolution was not on my list of five virtues, but it was the phantom thread that strung them together, the elephant in the room on every blog entry. I had plenty of ideas on how to improve myself and put my virtues into action, but oftentimes, I simply lacked the resolution to put these ideas in motion. For instance, I frequently decided to try meditation to increase Tranquility and several times was forced to report failure to actually meditate. Similarly, I never got around to fully cleaning my room which was my main goal with Cleanliness. I consistently committed other, smaller failures on my various virtues and eventually, every success I did experience became, in my mind, a victory of Resolution.
The virtue of Industry was as close as any of my virtues came to literally meaning Resolution, so perhaps it’s a good thing that it was in Industry I experienced the greatest success. Since the beginning of this school year, I have struggled with getting homework done in a timely manner. I find myself easily distracted and unable to find a productive rhythm. However, with the virtue of Industry in mind, I have been able to break out of this habit a little and become more productive with homework. Having the goal of Industry to consider has allowed me to become more aware of my actions while working on homework and remind myself to focus when I notice that I’m falling off course. On the whole, I’d say that I’ve gotten back on track for the year and have genuinely improved in Industry.
In addition to teaching me to be conscious of my own Industry, this experiment has encouraged me to pay greater attention to the ways I spend my time and if these things are consistent with the goals I would like to achieve. Am I creating a life I enjoy living or mentally sitting backseat as I go through the motions? As I said earlier, I don’t ever want to be passive, especially in my own life. This experiment has helped me take greater initiative in my life and, while it wasn’t entirely successful, has taught me to pay greater attention to the world around me and the effect I’m having on it.