Practice the virtues you can show

I stole this from the amazing Daily Stoic!

Virtue is one of those words that contains multitudes. If you think about it, being virtuous is not doing one thing all the time, or even lots of things all at once. It’s doing all the right things—the important things—in those moments when they matter most. Which is every moment. Day by day, It’s about taking the right actions and holding yourself to the highest standard.

Needless to say, that’s really hard.

Marcus Aurelius tried to do it all, all the time, but he also knew he was a flawed person. He knew he got overwhelmed (he joked to himself that no one could ever accuse him of being quick-witted). He knew that it was easy to fall short. So he had a little piece of advice for himself about how to stay on the right path.

That advice was: Practice the virtues you can show. The public stuff. The stuff that was visible and obvious, that could be illustrated by actions instead of explanation.

Practice these virtues

Practicing a virtue (or even building a habit) can take a toll on you. Particularly if you’re one of those who carries a list of 163 virtues/habits you would like to master in your lifetime. And you practice each of them diligently, every day! Little wonder you get burned out before the end of the week! (Try doing that and you won’t last two days with that damn list of 163 virtues.)

I thoroughly concur with Marcus Aurelius — instead of practicing it all why not focus on the ones that matter the most? These virtues could be anything from honesty to abstinence or patience to high-mindedness. But choose the ones that everyone can see, observe and acknowledge. The ones that you can act upon and the results speak for itself!

How do you organize these virtues would vary by your personal taste, experience and temperament. I specifically liked how Benjamin Franklin, as documented in his autobiography, used to practice his thirteen virtues on a weekly basis.

Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week “leaving all others to their ordinary chance.” While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues, and by his own admission he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”

Benjamin Franklin, Wikipedia

Here’s a glimpse of his planner to give you an insight into his mind:

That’s a cool way to track your habits/virtues and your most important priorities. And I keep going back to this quote by someone in the strength training world who said, “if it’s important do it everyday.”

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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