Day: 2

Today my main focus was Tranquility. I focused on the present instead of the future and it allowed me to remain tranquil. I would rate this method a 7/10 because it is still possible to look forward into the future and give yourself anxiety. For my other virtues, My Order is still at a 10/10, Sincerity is a 8/10, Humility is a 9/10, and Frugality is a 10/10. Tomorrow my main goal is gonna be Sincerity. I want to make sure I spend some time with my family because I don’t have anything going on.

Introduction

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.

Alyssa Alvey – Introduction

In the starting of this blog, I wish to complete an abridged version of what Benjamin Franklin, the legend himself, aspired to complete throughout his lifetime. Though I think myself unable to complete true moral perfection, as the morality of each individual is biased and everyone is prone to error in judgement, I still will avail myself to reach moral betterment. I want to be a better individual, not normal, but an improvement upon the groundwork previously laid. I think there is strength in being able to change and work towards our innate deficits, and even more so I think there is strength in admitting we have those deficits in the first place. With this blog, I wish to do both. I want to acknowledge the harmful behaviors and patterns that are interspersed within each day, and change them through behavioral modification, just as Benjamin did throughout the entirety of his life. Though I have not connected with him much prior, this blog will serve as my primary link to him, and in doing so I’ll further connect with myself.

Throughout the course of this blog, there are five core aspects of my current life in which I aspire to improve upon. Some aspects I have labeled in a similar fashion as to Benjamin Franklin, as his original ideas for his own improvement aligned with my own. Others are more specific to myself, as in self-rumination we realize our innate deviations from others, and some expectations simply do not need to be upheld. With this in mind, one of the core aspects I wish to improve upon is one ever more invasive in my life: Regulation.
Over the last couple of months, due to a variety of circumstances I may or may not divulge in, I have found it more difficult to uphold habits I formed while at the peak of my mental condition. Whether this be completing tasks in an orderly manner, or taking care of myself at controlled and scheduled intervals, things seem to be slipping by the wayside and I can’t seem to catch everything. I hope, through focusing on this, I can combine Ben Franklin’s ideas of order and moderation into one. However, a stand alone idea of his that I can implement is Sincerity.
Though I generally like to consider myself an honest person, that doesn’t mean I don’t fall into patterns harmful to myself, whether it be trying to fall into peer groups and their expectations of me or dissociating throughout the day to a point where I don’t know who I am. It’s a difficult process, not being fully myself, and it’s so incredibly tiring that I’m barely able to push myself to complete anything once the day is done. Bearing this in mind, I’d like to work towards being more present in the moment, and in doing so try to push myself away from conformity and forced socialization, as I gain less than what I lose from it.
One thing I don’t want to lose is Awareness, and it’s partially because it relates to my goals of Sincerity. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve always considered myself incredibly cognizant of any intrapersonal difficulties and changes. However, despite this, there are moments, recently increasing in frequency, where I feel as if I’m chronically missing something, that I’m simply going through the motions and in those motions it’s even harder to focus and retain information. Furthermore, I have begun to struggle with being aware of not only passive stimulation, but food intake as well, and as a result I’m stuck with bloody fingers and acid curling up my throat. I hope that by reminding myself to be present and ride any wave of emotion, I can combat some of the dissociative haze and harmful behaviors.
Out of all the issues I’ve recently faced in my life, one of the ones which constantly linger in my purview is a startling lack of Enjoyment. Throughout the day, I am stuck between middling boredom, annoyance, or just pure pain. Then, once the main portion of my day is over, things which once brought me joy instead bring me absolutely nothing unless I specifically work hours and hours upon some artificial goal to create temporary joy. It’s so tiring to live a life in which there’s no true joy derived from it, especially when the same exact cycle is likely bound to continue for at least another couple months. I hope, if nothing else, I’m able to ride it out, and not only that but ride it out with the individuals I know are willing to support me through each step.
However, for all of this to start, I need to have the Resolution to make it happen, just as Benjamin Franklin needed the resolve to reach moral perfection for 60 years straight. Though this has never been a specific weak point of mine, in times of struggling and dysregulation, it’s important that I step up my behavioral activation to the best of my ability. I don’t trust my own words, and often I rely on others to set deadlines and tasks for myself, as then I need to live up to expectations which have an impact on more than myself. It’s vital that I change that reductive cycle. I need to be firm yet gentle with myself, as to not only lend myself some kindness but to also lend myself the ability to move forward, towards a brighter future.

With these goals in mind, I have quite a few strategies I’m willing to implement to increase my chances of success, as well as some general ideas of how this will go. In regards to Regulation, I believe I will be able to fix most of my issues: sleep, cleanliness, and work schedule. For a year, I worked on my sleep through sleep therapy, and putting some of those strategies back into practice will likely enable me to fix the issues in my sleep schedule within the timeframe of this blog. Furthermore, if working in a scheduled framework for my sleep, I will also be in a scheduled framework for any general cleanliness concerns, thereby knocking all issues besides working out of the way. When it comes to work, I’ll take a less reward-based system, as I often just work while participating in my hobbies, and instead will take a time-based approach. Hopefully, with this, I’ll be able to separate work and “play”, and thereby increase the Regulation of the two.
However, one that will be much harder to both measure and regulate is Sincerity. As of now, I have a couple ideas here, mostly ones of either working towards Awareness and applying such skills here, or through behavioral and cognitive changes. More specifically, I’ll be working towards being more aware of when I am dissociating, and then use grounding techniques to bring myself back to the present. In other words, I’ll be using a chain-based approach in which I try to stop the behavior as soon as possible, rather than stopping it when it has already occurred. With this, hopefully, I’ll be able to catch anytime I’m acting disconnected to how I’m actually feeling or thinking, and thereby be more sincere and real to not only my peers but myself.
Brought up prior, one of the biggest focuses of this blog is Awareness, and in general it’ll follow a similar pattern to Sincerity, as mastering Awareness will then allow me to focus on Sincerity to the best of my ability. There are three main areas in which I’ll apply the chain method discussed prior, as the chain method is often used towards passive and unconscious actions. Firstly, I’ll use it whenever I find myself in a headspace to pick at my nails, and from there I’ll remove anything from my environment which would allow me to do so. This will not only likely make me find healthier coping mechanisms for boredom and anxiety, but it’ll allow me to keep the full usage of my hands, as picking at them comes to the detriment of myself for a week at a time. Secondly, I’ll use it to work on Sincerity, discussed prior. Thirdly, I’ll use the chain method to work towards being cognizant of food intake, though for this I think just being kind to myself is the most important step.
The hardest goal to work towards, out of all of these, is Enjoyment, as it’s hard to force yourself to feel an emotion which simply is not present. Instead, I’ll be working towards improving my cognitive outlook, focusing less on the negative and specifically stopping myself from self-deprecating, With this, I’ll likely feel more happy within my own headspace, and from there I can work to be content in the actions I commit, whether I be with friends or on my lonesome. As well, I’ll try to put more variety in my routine, as it has stagnated as of late due to an executive dysfunction keeping me in the same couple of patterns. Of course, I’m aware the first couple days are going to be difficult, as habits have an extinguishing response whenever you try to change them: they come back stronger. I don’t think that will stop me from making some progress though, as behavioral activation is a powerful tool when utilized effectively. However, I acknowledge that this feeling of malaise will not go away anytime soon, and I’m currently working on a consultation with a psychiatrist for a set of fresh eyes. I’m determined to regain some joy in my life, even if I don’t see the fruits of my labor during the course of this blog.
With this in mind, the foundation of it all needs to be met. As mentioned prior, behavioral activation is a powerful tool, and it’ll be my main tool when working with resolve. I’ll start with small goals of activities to complete in my day-to-day life, things which I have not done prior. From there, I’ll start reaching out to others, so they keep me culpable from slipping up on the occasion that I do. Once this has been accomplished, I’ll fix up my routine to allow flexibility, but to always give myself time to be productive and utilize the spare time I have. This will likely be the most experimental piece, and that is why I am leaving it for last. Resolve is something that wanes in its struggle, so in all honesty I’m the least sure about the amount of progress I’ll make on it, as it depends on my focus and motivation: two hard-to-control variables.
In all honesty, I’m glad to have been the time to create this blog at this point in my life, a point in which I predicted successfully that I was going to return to. I’m glad, as well, to have been given a framework as decreed by Benjamin Franklin to work within, as without it I might not have focused on much at all. I’m motivated to change my life for the better while managing a depressive episode, and with that I’m excited to work on this, and excited to be a culpable, virtuous individual.

Day One

Today I have chosen to focus on cleanliness as my main virtue. I have chosen this day to clean my room, do my laundry, do a full skincare routine and eat a healthy lunch and dinner. For lunch I had a chicken salad sandwich, which contains proteins, grains, and veggies I need for a full nutritional meal, pairing it with an orange and grapes. For dinner I had chicken pesto, which was moderately healthy containing proteins, veggies, and carbs. Today my main focus was cleanliness, however I continued to keep in mind my other virtues throughout my day. I started off my day with math. When it comes to math, I gravitate towards frustration and impatience. Today while we were reviewing for our test, I was able to ask questions, and take deep breaths if I wasn’t understanding the concept. I was able to stay tranquil and continue on with my learning. Moreover the virtues I have achieved today, one including moderation. After school I lean towards the unhealthy bag of chips rather than the carrots and celery. Today I chose the bag of chips with moderation of the chips, balancing it out with carrots and hummus. Overall I would give myself an B+ because I know I could have incorporated more of my virtues.

Introduction

I am very eager to begin exploring my virtues, and improving my moral compass. These past few months I have been struggling to find my footing, and approaching life with little to no thought. For these next two weeks, I will address my most prominent flaws, and attempt to tidy them up a bit. This, to some, may just be a measly AP Language assignment, but to me, this is an opportunity to clean up my life. Benjamin Franklin has appeared in my history textbooks since second grade, and honestly for many years I would yawn at the mention of his name. This project has given me the opportunity to use his tactics to better my own well being. No longer will Ben Franklin be restricted to my AP US History class. Franklin is now my mentor of morality, guiding me to live a life of near perfection.

For my five virtues, I have chosen Cleanliness, Silence, Order, Appreciation, and Bliss. To me, cleanliness is the most important of the five. This year I have let cleanliness take the metaphorical “back seat”. My room is always in shambles, my car has piles of clothes in the back, and my bathroom has hundreds of empty contact cases on the counter. Waking up to a visual disaster is a wonderful way to encourage a disaster of a day.  For these next two weeks, I will clean my room and car every two days, in order to keep my life clean and tidy. Silence is also very important to me, and something that I haven’t really seeked out this year. My life is one filled with extra- curriculars, and oftentimes I won’t get home until about 10 pm. This means a lot of noise, and very little quiet. Deep down, I am an introvert, who needs alone time in order to enjoy life. In order to preserve some quiet time for myself, I will start using my mornings as a way to do that. The time I use to brush my teeth and get ready for school will also be my time to enjoy some peace in my chaotic life. Due to the natural business of my daily life, I often find myself to be unorganized, and in a state of disarray. My math worksheets can currently be found in my english folder, and my planner was last added to in August. In order to improve my own morality, I must change these life habits. To do that, I will start adding to my planner daily, and making sure I stay on top of my activities and assignments. My life is one filled with reasons to be grateful, and reasons to feel lucky and blessed. I believe that I haven’t done enough to show my appreciation for these things. I need to start taking the time to notice my blessings, and to be thankful for them. From today on, I will practice appreciating my life, and taking the time to say “thank you”. Finally, I want to work on being blissful. I can’t remember a time this year when I felt completely happy. I am always thinking about the next thing that brings my stress and sadness. Enjoying the little things in life will allow me to become a happier person overall. 

This project will be so beneficial to me and my life. I need to start holding myself more accountable for my own happiness, and by using Franklin’s strategies, I believe I can do this. At the end of these next two weeks, I will be a cleaner, more organized, more thankful, happier, and more peaceful human being. It may be a challenge to remember all of these things, but the payoff will be much worth the hard work. I will be posting short daily updates on how my journey is going. This will play a part in holding myself accountable, and aid me in staying true to my virtues. I could not be more thrilled to see how this goes, and to become a better human being. 

Day 1 of Moral Improvement

Today was an exciting day. It was the first day of my journey to moral perfection! It started at 6:00 AM, when I got up to shower and get ready. In order to practice silence, I used this time to appreciate the peaceful nature of my mornings. After this, I took the time to clean out my car, which was a sloppy mess before today. Although I did leave my room just as dirty as it was before, I plan on tidying that up tomorrow. This gave me a chance to work on my cleanliness. I then went to school, where I took the time to write each of my homework assignments down in my planner, giving me a good organized way to remember my schoolwork. After school, I went home to eat and relax before rehearsal at 7:30 PM. I used this time to practice appreciation for my food and my home. A couch, a blanket, and a TV is a combination to be thankful for any day of the year. This also gave me the opportunity to practice being blissful, and to forget the daily stresses of my life. This was a time for me to relax and unwind, and it did not go to waste.

Kate Beaulieu-Day 1 of Moral Improvement

Day 1

I began my day waking up at 5:55 am which is a couple minutes earlier than usual, but I wanted to give myself time to make a cup of coffee and have a slow and relaxing morning. Waking up earlier and treating myself to coffee was a strategy of mine to practice tranquility. I noticed that having a slower morning put me in a better and more focused mood for school. I took the day at a moderate pace which helped me become more patient with myself and others since my brain wasn’t going a million miles an hour. The only somewhat negative part of my day was taking a chem quiz and finding out that I didn’t get an A on it, which made me upset at first, but then I remembered one of my virtues which is academic acceptance. I looked at my score for a minute or so, and came to the conclusion that it is perfectly acceptable to receive a 13/15 on a quiz rather than a 14/15 or 15/15. To practice academic acceptance, I only allowed myself to look at the score for a short amount of time and forced myself to put my phone up so I wouldn’t obsess over the imperfect score. Lastly, I ended my day with photography, something I am wanting to be more passionate about. I took photos for Harbinger during school, and wanted to go home and edit them to see the final product. I was happy with how the photos turned out, and decided that I should schedule specific days I want to take photos. Overall, I succeeded in practicing my virtues which has started me off on a good note with my journey. Today was a good day!

11/9/21 – Update

Today I did very well, specifically in moderation, because I was able to control my phone usage with success. This was seen by my low phone usage during school and getting lots of homework done during the day because I was not using my phone much. This phone usage also continued during my time when I got home from school. Although this was mainly because of my math test which I studied very hard for and did not leave much time for my phone, it still was a success that I was able to manage it even with the stress of the test. On confidence I wasn’t as strong, but my industry was strong due to my efficient work at my homework. Also, my resolution was strong in deciding to study for my math test. My justice was also strong in that I was able to realize my bias I had against my friends normal habits, and change this to realize that the person can change as well.

Kate Beaulieu-Introduction Essay

My Road to Moral Improvement 

Being assigned to challenge myself morally for the next couple of weeks will both test and improve my everyday routine and mindset. Just as Franklin believed and practiced virtues that would better himself, he proved that if one were to select a few weaknesses or rather hone in on what someone would want to change about themselves, they could grow as a person and change their life. Seeing how balanced Franklin managed to make his life by dedicating himself to following certain virtues, he has motivated me to do the same. I am prepared to struggle in the beginning with breaking old habits, but I am stimulated and driven by success and am motivated to see similar results as Franklin did. I am excited and eager to see my progress when I am finished, which will encourage me to follow through on my journey.  Both Franklin and I are alike in the sense that we both wanted to try self-evaluation and improvement at one point in our life, and at the end of the experiment, I will be able to say that just like him, I will have documentation of my efforts in changing my morals. 

Consequently, I have evaluated what I need to work on most in my life and came to the conclusion that it’s related to stress and negativity. I carefully chose a few of Franklin’s virtues and my own, which are: moderation, tranquility, academic acceptance, patience, and passion. Having chosen these five virtues, it’s important for me to explain and reflect on my reason for why I selected them. First off, practicing moderation and tranquility both go hand and hand for ways to reduce stress. I tend to push myself too hard, whether that’s academically or athletically and never let my mind or body catch a break. When I am not busy, I tell myself that I need to be productive rather than lying down and giving myself time to recharge. I have noticed that this is an unhealthy habit that needs to be broken, so I will be having the same mindset as Franklin, who believes that everyone should set aside time to rest in order to get things done. I will be altering my mindset similar to his, and will be achieving his way of thinking by providing at least half an hour anytime after school for me to lie down in my bed, possibly light some candles and let my brain temporarily turn off. Using this strategy will hopefully let my brain slow down and take each day moderately and positively. Secondly, I will be practicing academic acceptance and patience, which seem to be consuming me the most, especially negativity regarding academics. I tend to have an a-type personality, and I have set such high standards for myself in school, putting internal pressure on myself that has ruled my mind. I panic when I see two B’s on my quarter report card, or even getting any grade in general besides an A. Patience is another important virtue that I need to practice, which I need to work on in school, specifically in math. I am hard on myself for not being the best at math, and constantly comparing myself to others, never giving myself enough credit or time to learn a new concept. I need to understand that math doesn’t come easily to everyone, and that I need to be patient with myself that it takes me slightly longer to learn new topics in math. I will apply patience to my everyday life by taking a few deep breaths, and tackling one concept at a time. Lastly, passion is something I need to incorporate into my life. I am involved in multiple extracurriculars all of which I love, but I can’t see myself pursuing every extracurricular in the future. I want and need to discover what I truly love and am passionate about so I can pursue that and hopefully learn from it. I believe that when I find one or two things that I am passionate about, it will change my perspective on life. I will apply strategies such as focusing one one extracurricular that I can see myself having a true passion and future with such as photography, and set a reminder on my phone to go outside and shoot something. 

As a result, I yearn for only positive outcomes and exponential improvements. I want to be able to see a visible change in my attitude, and I want my friends and peers to notice as well. I hope to become more optimistic and calm so I can teach others how to do the same. During this journey, I predict that I will most definitely face hardships such as wanting to give up and a lack of motivation, but as I mentioned before, I have a perfectionist and routine oriented personality, so I am confident that I will successfully practice these virtues religiously. By the end of this, I am ecstatic to see my progress and I know that I will be happy that I was assigned to blog and interact with my classmates during my road to moral improvement.

Day: 1

Today I focused mainly on Order. After I received homework from all three of my teachers, I made sure to document it into my notes on my phone. This helped me remember what I had to do for homework. I would rate Order a 10/10 for today. For Tranquility, I would give myself a 10/10 because I remained calm all day and didn’t have any stresses. For Humility, I would give myself a 9/10 because I maintained a very humble attitude when some others around me weren’t. I would give myself 6/10 for Sincerity because I didn’t get to spend much time with my family today. my last virtue I wanted to work on was Frugality. I would give myself a 4/10 because I spent some money to go play basketball at Matt Ross community center. Overall, it was a pretty good day.

My Voyage of Virtues

The motivation behind my blog is to improve my life as a whole. I would like to live a clean, well organized life, and condense the abundance of stress surrounding me. As I have gotten older, I have let stress crowd my life. Stress determines the way my day will go, how I will sleep, how I will eat and generally affect my health. This stress leads to cleanliness, I get out of focus, and become messy. My room is always clean, but the stress takes over my life and I have become more sloppy. I am eager to start a new routine to help with organization, and cleanliness. The relationship between Franklin and I, is both aiming towards goals in our life. Franklin has inspired me, and my class to begin a journey of virtues. Franklin constantly kept himself occupied, achieving goal after goal throughout his whole life. I strive to have the motivation Franklin had, keeping up with his virtues until he no longer could. I had told myself a goal to have each month, we then began to talk about Franklin’s virtues, it gave me the perfect opportunity to grow. I hope to keep this going throughout my life just like Franklin.  

The virtues I have chosen to help me succeed in life are, Acceptance, Tranquility, Cleanliness, Temperance, and Liberality. Starting with Acceptance, I have chosen these virtues as I tend to hold things over my head when I know it is out of my control. I please others before pleasing myself. I have realized I need to come to terms with the fact I can’t make everyone happy, but I know I need to enjoy life to the fullest. A strategy to remind me I cannot please everyone, is to try my best, and know that I did all that I can do. Following acceptance is Tranquility. My life is full of stress, and the easiest way for me to handle it is to channel that stress to anger. One way I am going to work on tranquility is working on my breathing and communication to my peers. One of the virtues I want to focus on the most is Cleanliness. I have become messy as I have gotten older, and I’ve decided to change that.  One way I am going to achieve cleanliness is letting my family and friends know, so they are able to hold me accountable for eating healthy. Another way I am going to achieve this goal is committing to the gym and after school weights. Continuing on with my health, I have chosen temperance. To help with cleanliness I need to learn how to eat in moderation, and work out in Moderation. I will limit the amount of sugars that are in my house, and if there are I will set a goal of how much I will eat. Food in general, I am going to download an app to tell me my calorie intake to help keep track of what I am eating. Lastly I would like to work on Liberality. With the goals I am setting, I still need to learn a way to balance all without being uptight. When it comes to school, work on school work, but if it’s the weekend I am going to give myself a break and go have fun. Throughout my high school years so far I have learned to live in the moment and enjoy the time I have with my people. A way I am going to achieve this goal is, setting goals for when to get my homework done. After I have made it to that time I will go out and live freely. 

My hopes for these virtues, and my plan to achieve them, are to help me live a better, and relaxed life. I believe with my determined mindset, and the obvious need for a schedule fix, that I will be able to continue these virtues past the class time we are given. Although we have a short amount of time to succeed in these virtues, I believe each will have a positive impact on my life. I have high standards for myself, and all I want is the best. I believe these virtues are the pathway to that success I yearn for. 

My Journey to Moral Perfection

“What more valuable than Gold? Diamonds. Than Diamonds? Virtue.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1751
  • Tranquility
  • Silence
  • Moderation
  • Patience
  • Contentment

The Beginning:

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

Day 1:

  • 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. 
(Picture: Tranquility Journal)
  • 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. 
(Picture: Contentment Journal)

Day 1

I would say today was a good day. I worked really hard on my health virtue, and I even went to a workout class before school. I was mostly focused on that virtue, but when a situation came about, I was really working hard on temperance. I had a math test that I needed to make up, but I was so stressed and I felt like I knew nothing, when I was asking for help I broke down and cried. I went to the bathroom and realized that this was nothing to get worked up about, knowing there were so many other problems or things that are ten times worse than what I was going through. After calming down, I got more help and took my test. I did really well on it, and I really think it was because I calmed myself down when I got to a situation that was not good.

Tuesday, November 9

Today is the first day of my two week journey for moral perfection. The two primary virtues that I focused on today were health and responsibility. The weather today was spectacular for November, so I took the opportunity to go on a walk through my neighborhood. It seems the fall colors have finally begun to show their faces, which made the walk all the more enjoyable.

I also got started on my homework much earlier than I ordinarily do, in an effort to take my first steps towards responsibility. I started working around 5:00 in the afternoon, which is fairly good for me. I normally start at 6:00 at the earliest, usually closer to 7:00. I have a Calculus test tomorrow, so I need to give myself plenty of time to prepare for it.

Besides all the studying, I had a nice day. I did well on my Psychology test, although I wasn’t exactly worried about it. Altogether, I think the first day of this journey has gone well, and I am exited for future posts.

Connor Burrows

Introduction

I’ve decided to start my first ever blog. I’ve created this blog to help me keep my virtues present in my life and to share the journey with the internet. The main reason that I am starting this blog is because of the one and only Benjamin Franklin. After reading Franklin’s Moral Perfection auto biography, I was enlightened of some very important virtues that I wanted to implement into my everyday life. While reading this autobiography, I realized that 5 of his virtues were things I needed to improve on, so like any other individual I’ve decided to write about my experiences of these virtues and how I go about implementing them into my life.

The first virtue that caught my attention was Order. In my life I get very caught up in everything and seem to lose my sense of order. Whether it is forgetting to do my homework for school, or losing track of items at school, order is very important and is something I need to improve on. To improve on order in my life, I plan to keep track of things in the notes tab on my phone. I think this will help keep track of everything in my life and allow me to maintain order. The second virtue I want to improve on is Tranquility. Tranquility is an important virtue for me to improve on because I tend to freak myself out over little things when they really aren’t a huge deal. I’m going to try and improve on this by looking more to the future rather than the present and see if this problem will affect me in the future. The third virtue I’m going to work on is Humility. I’ve already got decent humility, but being humble is something I believe is very important and everyone should be good at it. I will gain better humility by listening to others, and being grateful for what I have. The fourth virtue I’m going to implement into my life will be Sincerity. I want to gain better sincerity, because it will bring me close to my family and friends and allow me to be the best individual I can. I can learn more about sincerity and how to improve on it. My fifth and final virtue to improve on is Frugality. I would like to improve on being frugal because I tend to buy things as soon as money comes to my grip. Being able to save that money and spend it on things I need will help with my overall happiness. I’m going to do this by putting a budget on my spending per week.

My hope for this virtues experiment is to be able to change my life in a positive way and to become the best person I can. I predict that I will be able to maintain at least 4 out of the 5 virtues. The one I see myself struggling with a little will be staying frugal during black Friday. Besides the frugality on black Friday I believe that I have a very good chance of improving on my important virtues. To be able to improve on all of these virtues listed is gonna be difficult, but I know that with hard work and dedication, I can do whatever I put my mind to.

Introduction

To me, the process of writing a blog holding me accountable for the virtues I have picked out is very important. There were several motivating factors behind this, including wanting to better myself, not only for myself but for the community around me. This blog will allow me to keep track of my progress, and make sure that I am doing my best to carry out these virtues. My relationship with Ben Franklin is mostly just my admiration for him. Franklin had a very busy life filled with new inventions and opportunities and people and whatever else you could possibly think of, but he was also able to achieve the life he wanted by sticking to his virtues. I believe that his motto of doing everything little by little is so great because it is so reasonable. 

The five virtues I have chosen to work on myself are temperance, sincerity, health, tranquility, and forgiveness. For temperance, I will try my best to be more laid back, and not get so worked up all of the time. I will try to stay calm when I would usually freak out, it will take time but I believe that I can do this. For sincerity, I will do my very best to be the most sincere I can. I tend to find myself not meaning things when I say them, or doing something that I know is not right, so I will really be focusing on this one. For health, I really want to work on this. I have been a pretty healthy person starting this school year, I go to workouts 4-5 times a week, walk whenever I can, eat healthy (when I can get myself to), but sometimes I think that my mental health is the one I need to work on. I tend to be a very happy person, but most of the time I am beyond stressed out. To work on this I will take 30 minutes each day to really focus on myself and doing something that makes me happy, and takes my mind off of whatever it is that is stressing me out. For tranquility, I find myself to be very laid back, most of the time. I like to stay out of drama and not have anything to do with it. Sometimes though, I will stand up for my friends when I know they won’t stand up for themselves. I find that to sometimes get myself involved in drama that is completely unnecessary, so I will do my best to help my friends but also know my worth and not become involved in the unnecessary drama. Lastly, I will really work on forgiveness. I tend to hold grudges where they are not needed, and I find it to get in the way of my happiness. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and knowing that everyone makes mistakes including myself, I think it is unfair to not forgive. It does suck having to let something go that has really bothered you, but in the end it is so much better.

My hopes for this experience are to improve myself and my mindset. I hope that by having this blog I will be able to keep myself accountable, and continue to better myself. All of my virtues are very simple, but very important to life, and I believe that I will really be able to improve myself with them. I hope this will help make my life a little brighter, and everyone else’s around me. My prediction for this is that I will be able to improve, but I do not think that I will be able to reach the ideal sense of perfection, just because of the short two-week period we have to do this. Overall though, I think I will see a lot of improvement and growth within myself even if it is just two weeks. 

Day #1: November 9, 2021

My first day of morally perfecting myself went relatively well. Usually when I first wake up, I pop out of bed, do my morning routine and leave. However, today, I made my bed first thing and made sure my room was tidy before going to make my breakfast, working on my order virtue as well as cleanliness. With balance, I spent an hour with my older sister after doing homework. This also combined with order, as I planned out an hour to do homework after school with zero distractions. My patience for the day was definitely my least worked on virtue for day one, yet I didn’t feel super impatient with myself and others, which is a good thing. Lastly, kindness is something I feel like I work on subconsciously everyday. Now being more aware of it though, changes my perspective for sure. I tutored a friend in math and also worked on the can food drive for Johnson County Christmas Bureau. Overall, I would give day one a 8/10.

My Virtuous Journey: an Introduction

I have chosen to undertake the goal of bettering myself on a virtuous level to help myself become a better person overall. This goal will help me with every aspect of my life when it comes to personal relationships as well as overall happiness and well being. If I am able to improve myself virtuously, I will be happier with myself and the people around me will be happier to be in my presence. I do not undertake this goal as some original idea, but am doing this in large part because of inspiration gained from Benjamin Franklin’s own strive for moral perfection. Although I acknowledge the difficulty in trying to achieve perfection, I do know that it is an admirable task that Ben Franklin himself found important enough to continue throughout his entire life. The knowledge gained from Franklin’s own experiences will certainly prove to be beneficial in helping me achieve my goals of bettering myself. Much of the reason for this is that Franklin and I have pretty similar desires to better ourselves and to be very inwardly reflective as to get rid of the internal problems that may cause us fault. Franklin himself described this as a very arduous task that is easy to fail. This own admission by one of the most important figures in history has forced me to mentally prepare for the task at hand. And really focus on specific virtues that I myself would like to work on improving.

I have selected five of these virtues which I have found to be the most important things on which I can improve myself around. The first virtue I chose is resolution, or being able to do with confidence what needs to be done. Often I will not do what needs to be done, because I will get too preoccupied with unimportant things, when I need to be focusing on the things that are important. The second virtue I chose was order, or making sure that I give everything in life its proper time. This goes along with resolution, in that having better order will allow me to really focus on finding what is important. The third virtue I chose was industry, or being as efficient as I can with what I do. I often waste too much time in my day not trying to be as efficient as I could be and this would help out immensely. The fourth virtue was moderation, which is not using anything to excess. For me I think that this would mainly be my phone and technology in general, as I really need to take more frequent breaks from them. The final virtue was justice, which I chose because sometimes I feel that if someone treats me in a certain way for some amount of time then I will not believe in their ability to change and I will not give them the fairness I would give a complete stranger. In conjunction all of these virtues which I would like to share with Ben Franklin will help me to become a better and more efficient person.

I hope that I will have similar success to what Franklin had with his virtues, and I think that careful observation and logging will be important to that success. It is easy to forget what you did in a day, but if you log it in some way you will have that memory with you forever. My hope is that I can come out of this virtue experiment as a better and more virtuous person. I think that it will all come down to if I can complete these virtues in the order that I listed because I can never focus on my justice if I do not have the resolution to make time for the important things in my day and leave time for focusing on virtues. If I can focus on each one of these individually and try and master each one before moving on to the next I will have the best success. I believe that overall I will have good success with this project, because it will force me to be more inwardly, looking at my flaws and where I can improve.

Luke Kounkel – Introduction

For this project, the virtues I am choosing to focus on are order, industry, tranquility, disconnection, and humility. I have struggled with my work ethic and the workload that results from it since middle school and I want to turn it around. Because of my workload and the perfectionist procrastination style I’ve adopted, my mental health has also been suffering over that period of time. Ben Franklin recognized his faults and decided to move towards a morally perfect life. Throughout the course of this blog I hope to improve in each section and seek the same path Franklin went down. 

Order, industry, and disconnection are three that I want to focus on for the sake of productivity, tranquility and humility for my mental health. For disconnection I plan on having a period each day when I will set my phone in a separate room and focus without it. With order and industry, I plan on making an ordered list of everything I need to accomplish each day and with the virtue of industry, following through each to completion. For the virtue of tranquility and humility I plan on taking 30 minutes each day away from any distractions and spending time reflecting on my life.

My hopes for this project are to create habits of productivity and self-reflection that will help me in the next several years of schooling. I foresee all of this plan going well as long as I can make the first few days stick. With that being said, I am ready to chase worldly perfection through the virtues.

Introduction

The Quest for Moral Perfection – An Introduction

As of tonight, I am embarking on a two week journey towards moral perfection. I have two major reasons for committing to this goal. First, and foremost, I am doing this as a project for school. Objectively speaking, I don’t have much of a choice. However, I do not see this as a dull, dreary homework assignment. Instead, it is a challenge that I must rise up to meet. I do not aim to, nor altogether expect to meet every nuance of each virtue to which I am committing. Rather, I plan to give a steadfast effort to achieving each of them, as Benjamin Franklin attempted throughout his life with his thirteen virtues. My relationship with Franklin is strictly academic, save for my day-to-day interactions with technology derived from his many scientific endeavors. I have not read any of his works nor examined his life to any great extent beyond that which I have been assigned to in school. Furthermore, I have my fair share of scruples with regards to many of his beliefs, especially in his younger years. I do, however, believe that he did a fairly good job of redeeming his questionable, if not condemnable, views as he progressed through life. Reservations aside, I have a great deal of respect for his dedication to perfecting himself, and I am aware that it requires an unimaginable level of willpower to dedicate one’s entire life to such a goal.

I have committed to working towards five virtues which I have deemed myself to be, at least to some degree, lacking in. The first of these virtues is Order. I am, regrettably, quite unorganized most of the time. I struggle to keep both my physical and mental space orderly, and I find this to occasionally be quite frustrating. I am committing to recording all of my homework and other tasks that are to be done each day in an organized manner on this blog. The next of the virtues is Resolution. I have found throughout my life that I struggle to commit to long-term projects (rather ironic, as I am currently committing to a two week plan to fix this very problem). I especially struggle to commit to personal projects such as art, exercise, and other fun and/or healthy activities. I am committing to painting a miniature over the next two weeks, spending at least a while every day working on it and recording my progress on the blog. The third virtue on my list is Confidence. This one is slightly less tangible, and I don’t struggle with it quite as much as the others, but I still feel that it is important. I often struggle with acknowledging my victories, instead fixating on my mistakes. I am committing to find at least one success every day to celebrate and discuss on my blog. My fourth virtue, and one of the most important, is Health. Any semblance of physical fitness I had was utterly destroyed when quarantine began. I have never been good about exercising, so I gladly accepted an excuse to stay inside 24/7. I want this to change, as exercise is immensely important to a long, healthy life. I am committing to going on at least a mile-long walk every day. The final virtue on my list is Responsibility. I tend to procrastinate, putting my work off until the last minute. I wouldn’t say that I’m lazy, but I could definitely do a better job of separating my work into responsible segments. I am committing to doing my work before the deadline is right on top of me to help reduce stress and create a more healthy balance of life and work.

As I said before, I cannot reasonably expect myself to meet every requirement of every virtue on every day. My true goal is to give a good effort and hopefully improve myself. I will not be discouraged by my inability to achieve perfection. Instead, I will acknowledge my failures and learn from them, hopefully avoiding the same mistakes in the future. I truly hope that this will have a lasting positive impact on my life as a whole, and I am glad to have the opportunity to work on such a unique, challenging, and engaging project.

Introduction

My motivation behind this blog is to show my progress on five virtues important in my life: order, cleanliness, balance, patience, and kindness. This blog will track the different ways each day I improve myself in one or more of those areas. Benjamin Franklin strived to morally perfect himself in life. Franklin made it very clear that he was not working on these all at the same time, but instead working on every virtue one day at a time, similar to me. I strongly respect Benjamin Franklin and all of his wisdom, and I think this idea is something that many people, including myself hopefully, will and would find beneficial for life.

The five virtues I’ll be working on are order, cleanliness, balance, patience, and kindness. I chose order because I think when I’m more organized, I feel more at peace physically and mentally, making days and weeks run much smoother with a nice to-do list and plans for my weeks ahead. I chose cleanliness that goes kind of hand in hand with order and making sure my room is clean as well as mind, whether this is making my bed before I leave for school or going to a yoga class. I also chose balance because I think it is important to balance friend and family relationships as well as school and extracurriculars. Balance also kind of goes with order with the idea of making a plan and making sure I am balancing all my responsibilities. Patience is another virtue I chose because I think sometimes I get very impatient with not only those around me but also myself and don’t give myself the time of day to breathe and kind of regroup. Lastly, I chose kindness. I believe I already strive to be kind to those around me everyday, but would like to make that a priority and put good and positive energy into the world rather than stress and negativity. 

My hope for this process is to obviously improve as a person but also to keep these lessons for the future and turn them into habits. My prediction is that I won’t be 100% successful but that I will most definitely benefit from focusing on these virtues. I am looking forward to seeing what this does to me and my daily life.