Something to learn from Ben Franklin
The Virtuous Life
Being Virtuous: Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues of Life | The Art of Manliness
For the past 13 weeks, The Art of Manliness has been running a series entitled “ The Virtuous Life.” Each week we took a look at each one of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues and how men could implement them in their life.
Today “virtue” has taken on soft and effeminate connotations. But originally, the word “virtue” was inextricably connected to what it meant to be a true man. The word comes from the Latin virtus, which in turn is derived from vir, Latin for “manliness.” These days guys excuse their lack of virtue by hiding behind the excuse of being “just a guy.” Men need to do better and strive to improve themselves each day. It’s time to restore the tie between manliness and virtue.
What follows is a summary of the entire series with links to each virtue. We hope you found the series helpful and will revisit it in the future for inspiration.
Let’s get started.
 Lessons in Manliness: Benjamin Franklin’s Pursuit of the Virtuous Life
This is the post that kicked off the series. In it we discussed Benjamin Franklin’s goal of moral perfection and how he set about attaining it through living his 13 virtues. Franklin, a printer, had a small book of charts made up that allowed him to keep track of his progress in living the virtues. You can get your own Benjamin Franklin virtue chart  here.
Ben admitted that he was never able to live the virtues perfectly, but felt he had become a better and happier man for having made the attempt.
Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Franklin began his list of virtues with temperance because it was the virtue that would develop the self-discipline necessary to adhere to the other 12 virtues. Temperance calls for a man to avoid overindulgence in food or drink. By conquering your primal urges for food and drink, you’ll have the confidence to start making improvements in other areas of your life.
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; Avoid trifling Conversation.
We live in an age of constant noise and chatter. Etiquette and polite manners have sadly not kept pace with developments in technology and our quickly changing culture. In the virtue of silence we took a look at how a man can practice this virtue in regards to cell phone use, customer service, and the internet. A man must learn when and when not to open his mouth.
Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
If a man wishes to thrive in this world, he must develop order. But the laws of physics tell us that the universe and everything in it tends towards chaos and disorganization. A man must fight against these natural laws and the path of least resistance. Yet taking on complex organization systems will only cause more imbalance in your life. Instead, make small changes by rectifying each slip into disorganization the moment it happens. Do it now.
Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Resolution is the firm determination to accomplish what you set out to do. In this post, we looked at the story of Alexander the Great conquering the island of Tyre as an example of manly resolution. From Alexander’s conquest at Tyre, we extracted four ways to help improve your resolve in life.
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
American’s savings rate is negative. That’s right, Americans are spending more than they’re saving. With the sluggish economy and soaring gas prices, practicing frugality is quickly coming back into style. While there are countless blogs that go into detail about how to live frugally, it all comes down to one principle: spend less than you earn.
Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
Hard work has been the hallmark of every manly man. However, industriousness has gone out of style. People today are looking for get rich quick schemes that will afford them a huge payout with minimum effort. In reality, honest work is a beneficial and refining endeavor that should be embraced, not disdained. In this post we take on the cult of “The Four Hour Work Week,” illuminate the value of work, and explain how you can be more industrious in your life.
Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
If you frequent blogs or internet message boards, you’ve probably noticed the prevalence of gossip, sarcasm, and lying. Unfortunately, we’re starting to see the demeanor that pervades the internet rub off on people in the real world. In this post we discuss how gossip, sarcasm, and lying can harm you and others and how you can work on avoiding these vices.
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
When I look back at the men I admire most, they all had one thing in common: each of them stood up for the little guy. In a society plagued with apathy, what this world needs now more than ever are men who will stand up for justice. Find out how you can develop the virtue of justice in your life as well as areas that you can implement the virtue.
Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Are you looking for more fulfillment and satisfaction in your life? Society will tell you that “more” is the answer, that more money, more stuff, more women, and more pleasure are the keys to gaining satisfaction in life. In reality the secret to a fulfilling life is moderation. In this post, we offer five tips on how you can practice moderation in your life and in turn increase your happiness and pleasure.
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
While many would say cleanliness is more a sign of femininity than manliness, the reality is that developing cleanliness develops a man’s attention to detail, discipline, and order. Of all the virtues, the meaning of cleanliness has changed the most over time. In this post, we discuss that history and then offer suggestions on meeting today’s standard of cleanliness in your home, dress, and personal grooming.
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
The irritations of modern life have left many men hot under the collar. Controlling one’s anger is the mark of a cool and composed gentleman. There are many social and health benefits to controlling your anger. In our discussion on tranquility, we provide 5 suggestions on how men can control their anger and start living more peaceful and tranquil lives.
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Of all the virtues, chastity is probably the least popular these days. We live in a society in which that glamorizes and exploits sex. Sex is everywhere, on the internet, on T.V. and in our magazines. But the ubiquity of sex has only cheapened a once sacred act and turned it into just another consumer good to be selfishly consumed. In this post, we take a look at the harmful effects of today’s “hook-up” culture.
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
The typical image of a manly man is one who is supremely confident, bordering or arrogance. Humility doesn’t seem to fit in that manly image. However, some of the greatest men in history have been the most humble. Humility isn’t weak, submissive, or self-abasing. Humility means having the quiet confidence to allow your actions to speak for themselves. After discussing a lesson on how not to be humble from Greek legend Achilles, we discuss five things you can do to be a little more humble.