Practicing the Good Life with Ben Franklin - Virtues #10-13 - Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity & Humility
Our new Weekly Series explores improving your life through character growth and a new habit of practicing virtues. To read about why we are exploring virtue, click here.
AG Thrive | Art of Virtues | Week 10-13
Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity & Humility
I have decided to take the remaining 4 virtues and wrap them all up into one message. My apologies if your favorite virtue is one of these four - and it may not be getting the full attention it deserves (if this is true for anyone - I invite you to give me a call - I would be thrilled to have a meaningful discussion with you regarding your appreciation of said virtue!).
Btw - Paul Larez - a talented writer, Coach, and therapist - was responsible for creating most of the content in this series on the Art of Virtue - and I think he did an exemplary job. However, Paul has now taken his considerable talents to Baylor University - where he will be completing his doctoral internship. Thank you Paul for your many outstanding contributions to the AG Thrive community!
And now I would like to acknowledge Ben Franklin for his immense contributions to this series! Thanks Ben - you provided an outstanding model for how to live a great life - and did so in a way that was uniquely practical. I love how intentional he tried to be in practicing a virtuous life - by keeping a daily and weekly inventory of his attempts. I feel confident in suggesting that anybody who would go through the effort to evaluate their daily actions in light of their expressed virtue - is going to experience considerable benefits to the quality of their life.
Now - for the sake of these last 4 virtues:
It just feels better when we practice good hygiene - and doing so regularly - but not compulsively - has remarkable health and social benefits. This idea of cleanliness implies that we strive to practice good hygiene habits personally and in social environments (wish my old college roommates could have appreciated/internalized this Virtue!).
This basically promotes being a peaceful person - who attempts to stay out of unnecessary conflict - while practicing effective emotional regulation in times of distress. For me - having a regular meditation and prayer practice had really empowered me to become more tranquil - and this allows me to be significantly more effective as a dad, husband, and in my professional work (the only place it doesn’t work is at sporting events - where I consciously embrace non-tranquility!)
I have to admit - this is a little uncomfortable to try and write about - but the idea of honoring your core values in all interpersonal interactions is always going to be a good idea and create an internal experience that is positive and empowering - while also leading to mutually meaningful relational experiences (I don’t believe that Franklin meant to suggest that romance and passion should be suppressed - and he certainly didn’t abide by this idea - but, letting passion and romantic desire drive our behavior can certainly lead to a suboptimal quality of life).
in my experience - this virtue is one of the least understood virtues - and I have heard many clients mistake humility for self degradation (or a complete unwillingness to acknowledge anything good about themselves). The real meaning of humility - as I understand it - is to have great self awareness - where you acknowledge your strengths while understanding your weaknesses - and you do not put your self or self-interests above others (so, the idea is to overcome your ego or unhealthy pride - which is the source of much suffering). Humility really points us to our interconnectedness with others - and promotes a life of service (utilizing our strengths!) as we appreciate the sacred nature of our relationship to our community (our spouse, family, colleagues, etc.).
In summary - the most fascinating thing I have come to appreciate as I have done a deep dive into the practice of developing virtue and character strengths - is related to the remarkable benefits that come as a byproduct of creating virtuous relationships, workplace cultures, and family environments. In fact, as I will attempt to demonstrate in my next email/blog message - it may be the most effective way to build an environment that supports psychological wellbeing, boosts resilience, and provides a buffering effect against depression, anxiety, stress, etc., as it takes the focus off of the self and instead puts it on how we can contribute in a social context - which is much healthier.