Reflection 11/19/21

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.

Day 10

Today I focused on creative productivity and industry. I experienced success in creative productivity, though not as much as I would have liked. I’ve agreed to help out a friend and do a scene in a play (Almost Maine) that is going on this weekend, as the actress who was originally going to play the role got Covid and had to skip. The play is happening on Saturday and I got the script Wednesday night. However, I didn’t start working until tonight when I realized that I had four long pages of dialogue that had to be ready in two days (on top of school and work). Feeling a little stressed out and hopefully, I will be able to pull that off. I do give myself points for working on it. I also had a freelancer meeting today after school and we were very productive with rating, which is positive. So, all in all, I’d say it was a fairly creatively productive day and I’d give myself a 4/5.

My industry today was definitely not as impressive as it was yesterday, although it wasn’t totally bad. I had a headache while working on homework and that really impaired my ability to focus and be productive. Plus I got distracted talking on the phone with a friend. I might have been able to overcome this had one of my Apush assignments not been so grueling, but, as it was, I was unable to keep a positive mindset. Despite all of this, I did manage to get some work done, but it was far less productive than I would have liked. I give myself a 3/5 on industry.

Day 9

Today I focused on the virtues of industry and tranquillity. I was especially successful in industry, maybe more so than I’ve been since the beginning of the virtues experiment. I missed school on Monday so when I came home today, I had more homework than normal. However, I stayed focused, didn’t let myself get discouraged, and was able to successfully complete my homework. I was able to get into a productive rhythm while working on long assignments—rather than falling into despair and, subsequently, distraction. I also organized my weekend schedule and did a good job of getting back to everyone and keeping everything organized. I would give myself a 5/5 in industry.

I did a fairly good job of practicing tranquillity today. I stayed positive in the face of my previously mentioned mountain of homework and did a generally good job of avoiding negative thought patterns. I still have yet to meditate before bed (maybe resolution should have been one of my virtues?) but I’ll give it a shot tonight. I give myself a 4/5 in tranquillity today. 

Day 8

I focused on physical health and creative productivity today and I think I did a pretty good job of improving at each virtue. For creative productivity, I had an acting lesson this afternoon and got two new monologues to work on. One of them is a lot of fun and the other one is challenging, so I’m looking forward to learning and working on both. Last night I wrote a monologue for rep theatre class and tonight I resolve to get one of my poems finished and ready for submission. So, all in all, a pretty creatively productive day. I would give myself a 4/5. 

I also took steps to better my physical health, taking advantage of the good weather by going on a walk after school. Typically I would save time and drive to the library/the bank, but today I walked everywhere I needed to go. My eating hasn’t been super healthy (though it hasn’t been bad either) and I will try and get something good to eat for dinner. Overall for physical health, I would give myself a 3/5. 

Day 7

Today I focused on tranquillity and physical health. I missed school due to illness (previously mentioned in entry 6) which was excellent for both of these things. Actually, missing school did have a negative effect on my tranquillity because now I’m worried about all of the assignments I’ll have to catch up on. But I’m trying to stay positive and focus on that tomorrow. I think that sleeping had a positive effect on my tranquillity (it’s hard to be stressed out when you’re unconscious) as well as watching movies. I watched Moneyball, which was surprisingly captivating. It did an excellent job of making a very niche situation accessible and interesting. I also rewatched the first Iron Man (still my favorite Marvel movie). Tonight I went out to eat with my friends, which positively contributed to my tranquillity.  Overall I’d give myself a 4/5 in tranquillity.

My physical health was pretty bad to begin with, considering that I was sick today. I think missing school and getting some sleep contributed to me getting better, although I did eat pretty poorly at dinner tonight. I would give myself a 2/5 in physical health. 

Day 6

Day 6 was very bad, evidenced in the fact that I am writing this blog entry a day later. I focused on cleanliness and physical health and didn’t do great in either area. I slept late and sort of moped around the house until work. I felt pretty gross but went to work anyway (a bad idea). I had what I think was a migraine or something caused by dehydration and had to leave early. Then I was sick and missed school the next day (today). So not a great physical health day, although I don’t think it was entirely my fault (except the dehydration part which probably was). I’d give myself a 0.5/5 overall. 

As for cleanliness, I didn’t do anything to mess up my room, which certainly counts for something. I also didn’t do anything to improve it. There isn’t much else I can say in that department and I’d probably give myself a 1/5 for cleanliness. This is kind of a depressing entry so, for the sake of positivity, I also read over one of my poems and decided that it was good enough to submit to the freelancer. So a 2/5 in creative productivity.

Day 5

Today I focused on creative productivity and industry. Industry was definitely rough (it usually is over the weekends). I had a meeting at 12 today and got out of bed like ten minutes before I had to leave, showing up late. I have a major problem with staying in bed all day and staying awake all night on weekends. The staying awake all night thing isn’t really a problem, but I should probably work on getting out of bed before 12. I put off most of my homework for tomorrow, and since I’m working tomorrow night, I have definitely put myself in a bad position. On a positive note, I almost put off writing this until really late tonight after I finished my movies, but I told myself what a bad idea that was and sat down to write. So I’m proud of that and overall for today, I’d give myself a 2/5 in industry.

I was fairly creatively productive today and spent a portion of my day in the French Market in Prairie Village, working on my Frequent Friday. I’ve worked out the overall plot (although I need to delete a couple of characters and secondary locations for clarity and brevity) and can now start on the actual script. Obviously, total success would have been working on my script as well, but I think a little success is better than none. Plus I had to resist the serious temptation to go home, veg out on the couch, and read, which is usually what I do on weekends. I would give myself a 4/5 in creative productivity. 

Day 4

First off, I’ve decided to stop focusing on all five of my virtues every day and start focusing on just two a day. I feel like, for me at least, trying to work on all five at once leads to neglect and the failure to make any real improvements. I will therefore begin a more centered approach and work on just two a day. 

Today I concentrated on tranquillity and industry. I had planned to try a type of meditation last night, but that didn’t end up happening. When it was time to go to bed, I just completely lost interest and didn’t do anything. So not my best moment, a failure in both tranquillity and industry. Other than that, I had a pretty good/tranquil day today. I was exhausted this morning, but by seventh hour (rep theatre) I was doing pretty well! I’ve got a lot of homework to do this weekend but I’m trying to stay positive and not let it weigh me down. So overall I’d give myself a 3/5 for tranquillity today. 

I have struggled a bit today with industry, which is frustrating considering how on top of things I’ve been throughout the rest of this week. I didn’t finish a couple of assignments that could have been done in class if I’d been more productive, leaving me with weekend homework. And tonight, I let reading my mom’s People magazine distract me from homework (for anyone who’s interested: Paul Rudd, pride of Kansas and also the Shawnee Mission school district, is People’s sexiest man alive). I’ve made plans to be very productive this weekend and hopefully, I will actually be able to make that happen. Today I’d give myself a 2/5 on industry. 

Day 3

Tranquillity 2/5

After reading comments, as well as other people’s techniques for the virtue of tranquillity, I’ve decided to try meditation tonight. I will be sure to update on how that goes and how I do it specifically. As for today, I didn’t do horribly in terms of tranquillity, but this doesn’t have a lot to do with the habits I am trying to develop. I feel like my tranquillity is basically the same as it was before I started focusing on it. It’s hard to recognize when one is falling into negative patterns of thought and even harder to actually move on to positive thoughts. Hopefully, meditation will help me improve in this regard. 

Industry 4/5

I had another day where I felt very on top of things and productive. I’ve had a lot going on today (ran freelancer meeting after school) so there hasn’t been an opportunity to get super distracted, but with the free time I’ve had, I’ve been pretty good about getting things done and focusing on school. 

Physical Health 1/5

To be totally honest, today was a bad day for my health. I felt sick at lunch so I didn’t really eat anything and I haven’t gotten any kind of physical activity either. I’ve felt kind of gross all day and will probably lie down after writing this. 

Cleanliness 2/5

I haven’t had time to clean my room fully yet, but I’m trying to be generally clean and not make things messier. I was successful at this today, but to be fair, I haven’t been home all day so I haven’t had the opportunity to make a mess. 

Creative Productivity 2/5

I’ve made plans to work on my Frequent Friday this weekend, so I will be sure to update on how that goes and if I am successful. Other than that, I didn’t write anything new or work on much creatively. 

Day 2

Tranquillity 1/5

I didn’t really make any progress in achieving general tranquillity today. I am beginning to suspect that this might require a more definite strategy than the “general positive thoughts” thing I had going.  

Industry 4/5

I have been fairly productive today and, while I’ve definitely had some moments of distraction, on the whole, I’ve felt very on top of things. Throughout the school day, I used extra time to work on homework and after school, I avoided getting on my phone which saved me from falling down that time-consuming hole. I also had work tonight which adds to my feeling of general accomplishment.

Cleanliness 3/5

My cleanliness rating is kind of in the middle today because my room was straightened up by the hired cleaning service my parents pay for. So things look a lot better than they did, but it’s no thanks to me and therefore I shouldn’t get the credit. My room still needs to actually be cleaned, not just generally neatened, but for now, I will do my best to maintain its improved state.

Creative Productivity 2/5

I have not been creatively productive today. To be fair, I’ve had a full day and there hasn’t really been time. However, I have had a good idea for my Frequent Friday so there’s that. Will probably start writing it soon

Physical Health 2/5

I wasn’t super active today, but I did lift things and walked around at work. Definitely kind of a stretch, but I’m going to go ahead and give myself a point.

Day 1

Tranquillity 1/5

I can already tell that this is going to be the hardest virtue to adhere to, as well as to measure. I wasn’t a frazzled mess today, but I don’t think this has a lot to do with me. It just wasn’t that sort of day. I want to try to pay more attention to my thoughts and recognize when something I’m stressing about is unnecessary so that on the days when I actually am a frazzled mess, I’ll have the mental resources to handle it. This will also allow me to be less stressed about pointless things day to day. 

Industry 3/5

I feel like I was largely able to avoid unnecessary distractions today. I had a couple of slip-ups, but on the whole, I was pretty productive and on task.  I did push off focusing on my work in seminar in favor of hanging out with friends while working in a more distracted manner. However, I don’t totally consider this a failure because I feel like I was better off afterward in a way I wouldn’t have been had I only done homework.  I did struggle with some of my assignments when I got home, but I was more productive than I have been in a while and there was only one short instance in which I fell completely off task and got on my phone.

Cleanliness 2/5

Today I partially straightened up my room. I didn’t make much of a dent in the overall mess, but I made it a little bit better which is definitely something to be happy about. I plan on cleaning it properly when I have some time this weekend. 

Creative Productivity 4/5

I took some time after homework to actually write a new poem for the first time in a while. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, but it’s new and I’ve actually finished it, which is saying something. I also took some time to think over ideas for my frequent friday, which I need to start writing right about now. Hopefully, if I keep it in my mind, I will come up with something worth writing.

Physical Health 3/5

I think I did a relatively good job with physical health. I abandoned the couch and my book to go with my mom and walk the dog around the neighborhood. The weather was really beautiful and walking at night was surprisingly nice (much better than walking during the day). It is definitely the sort of thing I should do more often. However, I didn’t eat particularly well, which I need to remember to do in the future. 


I have always thought of Benjamin Franklin as something of an anomaly among the founding fathers. The essential (ie. well-known) founding fathers are all associated first and foremost with politics. On the other hand, the name “Benjamin Franklin” brings to mind pictures of the enthusiastic inventor who ventured into dark storm, armed with only kite and key; images of the bespeckled (bifocaled?) intellectual behind America’s public libraries. Of course, one also imagines him surrounded by the other founding fathers, quill at the ready, engaging in political debates and such. But no image is truer or more natural than that of the mad, old scientist, trudging thoughtlessly into an oncoming storm. Emphasis on “old.” Not in any of my mental images of Franklin is he less than 40 years old. And indeed, is it hard to attach the storied name of Franklin to any musings of a precocious teenaged writer or popular print shop owner. One almost feels as if Franklin sprung from the womb a wise old man. But of course, as I have so recently learned, this is not the case. When he was around my own age, Benjamin Franklin conceived his 13 virtues for moral perfection; a concept so idealistic I would deem it youth’s folly had Franklin not gone on following it for the rest of his life. While I’m not sure I believe in total moral perfection or moral perfection through one definitive, unchanging code, I do believe in self-improvement. Thus, with this blog, I will follow Franklin’s example and attempt to follow a list of 5 virtues in the interest of self-growth. 

I would like to follow the virtues of tranquillity, industry, cleanliness, creative productivity, and physical health. All but creative productivity and physical health are taken from Franklin’s list. Tranquillity focuses on not getting upset over unimportant things or letting accidents of the unavoidable or common variety consume one’s thoughts. I often let myself get upset over unimportant or even imagined problems and I feel I would be significantly happier if I learned to avoid this habit, hence tranquillity. I will enact tranquillity by attempting to catch myself at the start of negative reflection and think instead of my successes and plans for the future. Perhaps I will invent a mantra. The virtue of industry concerns avoiding unnecessary actions and spending one’s time doing useful things. I feel like I often get distracted by scrolling through my phone or something equally pointless when reading or writing would be much more productive and enjoyable. In order to promote industry in my life, I will attempt to have a book on my person at all times and also stop and ask myself if what I’m doing is really necessary whenever I take out my phone. Cleanliness centers around personal hygiene and keeping one’s living area clean. My primary living area (bedroom) is arguably the messiest it’s ever been. I will follow this virtue by cleaning and maintaining it. Creative productivity (a virtue of my own devising) is essentially creative completion. I have several unfinished projects that I just keep on poking away at, rather than officially finishing and doing something with. I have no sense of discipline and write only when experiencing a burst of inspiration. I also avoid writing things that I need to and want to write because of the mentally grueling nature of creative writing. In keeping with this virtue, I want to find time to write at least once a week and have two finished products by the end of this blog experiment. I also would like to work on the virtue of physical health. To be honest, I’m worried about my health and the unseen consequences my lifestyle may have. I generally eat poorly and rarely get any kind of physical exercise. I also listen to music at a thundering volume, so I’m fairly certain that my hearing is permanently doomed. I want to pay more attention to and conscientiously make good decisions for my health. 

I hope that by following these virtues I can make progress on some of the things that have been cluttering up my life for a while. I want to genuinely move forward and progress as a person, or, at the very least, finish some poems and clean my room. Idealism (in some form or another) is said to be a hallmark of youth, and idealism is all that I can see in young Ben Franklin’s attempt to reach moral perfection. However, the fact that he kept up this struggle his whole life says something interesting. I doubt that Franklin found any kind of long-lasting moral perfection through his virtues, but perhaps it was in the pursuit of perfection that he found satisfaction. Perhaps through his virtues, Franklin hit on an important truth: it is more important that we strive to meet our lofty ideals than whether or not we actually meet them. More important that we have ideals at all, that we move into the future, not blindly, but with our eyes open.