Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Who doesn’t admire and respect Ben Franklin. How comforting it is to know that even a man as great as he struggled. In fact, when he first undertook his program of developing the 13 virtues, he said of himself

I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined.

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullnesss; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the enefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries, so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. …
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

The Program to Incorporate Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues

You can’t focus on all 13 at once. Being fuller of faults than you imagined, you would soon drive yourself crazy!

The program is to focus on one fault for a week, and try to eliminate it. Focus on one at time, but record all transgressions for the week. The virtue you are focusing on should have an empty row at the end of the week. Franklin just marked whether the transgression occurred. You might want to mark the number of times it occurred to have a better mechanism of showing progress.

The 13 Virtues Chart

How to Proceed

  1. Use the chart and work on one virtue per week, marking your transgressions.
  2. Proceed to the subsequent virtue the next week.
  3. After week 13, repeat week 1, and proceed through the virtues again.

Following this course, you can go through the program four times per year. This is exactly how Ben Franklin did it. You can read about it in his awesome autobiography.

Hey, it worked for Ben Franklin. Why not give it a try?

About Justin Qualler

Justin Qualler is that rare animal who balances an active life—he's both a full-time technical writer and devoted family man—with a level of fitness that takes a back seat to none. Justin's convinced that everyone can make optimal health and strength a default setting in their life. To prove it, he wrote the Continually Fit ebook, a comprehensive guide to achieving life-changing fitness goals in less than 2% of your waking hours.