BEN FRANKLIN’S 13 VIRTUES GRID

QUOTE: Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is one of the patron saints of self-realization. In his Autobiography, he describes how he designed his Virtues Chart as part of a “bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection.”He identified thirteen virtues he wanted to cultivate—temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquillity, chastity, and humility—and made a chart with those virtues plotted against the days of the week. Each day, Franklin would score himself on whether he practiced those thirteen virtues.

Current research underscores the wisdom of his chart-keeping approach. People are more likely to make progress on goals that are broken into concrete, measurable actions, with some kind of structured accountability and positive reinforcement. Also, according to a current theory of the brain, the unconscious mind does crucial work in forming judgments, motives, and feelings outside our awareness or conscious control, and one factor that influences the work of the unconscious is the “accessibility”of information, or the ease with which it comes to mind. Information that has been recently called up or frequently used in the past is easier to retrieve and therefore energized. The concept of “accessibility”suggested to me that by constantly reminding myself of certain goals and ideas, I could keep them more active in my mind. So, inspired by recent science and by Ben Franklin’s method, I designed my own version of his scoring chart—a kind of calendar on which I could record all my resolutions and give myself a daily (good) or X (bad) for each resolution.

NOTE

 

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

What gets your attention?

What human needs or problems relate to the quote?

What is it like to have that problem?

What other resources connect to this idea?

What is the solution suggested in the quote, if there is one?

What would a camera see if the solution was implemented in my life, in my family’s life, or in my church or community?

What are the steps that I would take on Monday to implement that solution?

 

CONTEXTUALIZING QUESTIONS 

What does this say to my context as a …

… person?

… follower of Jesus? 

… to a church? 

… to a community – my neighbors?

 

RESOURCES

The quote is from The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin,  located at page

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