Today I want to revisit the key ten virtues and the value that they have in our daily lives.
What is virtue
Virtue is the pursuit of moral excellence. It involves accomplishing that which is good and true while elevating our moral character. To pursue righteousness, we have to remain committed to rejecting vice while continuously working on self-improvement. Additionally, virtue cannot be shared. We must develop individual morality – no one else can walk the path of development for us. Because of this, individualism is so essential to the development and growth of moral excellence.
Maintaining virtuous behavior requires a strong will, great emotional control, firm goals, an understanding of our values, and a desire to improve. It is hard to develop moral character, but the awards are nearly infinite.
I have outlined ten key virtues. There are many more, but I believe these ten fully encompass what it means to be a virtuous person.
The ten key virtues
We have to possess a passion for our lives. Many people are apathetic towards what they may accomplish. They lack a spark or enthusiasm and spend a majority of their time consuming and wasting away. Individuals cannot follow such pointless paths because our lives are a gift to be cherished and enjoyed. We have to define what we want in life while focusing on building a legacy that will stand the test of time.
Never become apathetic about your life. Have such a zeal that others can’t help but feel more passionate about their own lives.
With persistence we refuse to give up or lower our expectations – we push forward even when in a state of discomfort. Persistence is important for rejecting comfort and staying engaged with what we wish to accomplish. When we are easily distracted, we’ll fail at our goals, create disappointment, and feel pathetic.
We live in an irrational and irritating world. From politics to the idiot drivers on the road, it is easy to believe that the world exists to get in our way. However, through the virtue of patience, we can control our anger and better utilize our emotional energy towards more virtuous pursuits.
When we lose control of our emotions, we will waste emotional and mental energy. It’s best to practice patience when involved in an annoying situation. By playing mental games, reflecting on what we’re grateful for, and other thoughtful exercises, we can easily overcome the most boring and mind-numbing experience.
Practice patience and the world will struggle to knock your balance.
Life never stops hitting. Whether it’s rude people, unfortunate circumstances, long wait times, what have you, the world is constantly presenting challenges to overcome. Without fortitude, we’re easily rocked by the world.
For example, a rude person ruins our day which robs us of a productive few hours. Our car breaking down drains our bank account and makes it harder to invest in ourselves. YouTube videos abound so you’ll consume mindless entertainment instead of going to the gym or reading a book.
Fortitude is about taking these inconveniences, and sometimes blatant attacks, and withstanding the blows. By withstanding the blows, you can continue forward and accomplish the goals you have with the zeal you’ve developed. These attacks will not stop, and the distractions will never go away. Build your willpower and seek to grow as an individual.
We were made for greatness – not for comfort. Magnanimity is about understanding the magnitude of our decisions and how important it is that we pursuit virtuous actions over petty ones. In other words, we have to posses a nobility of spirit. One crucial way that magnanimity is practiced is through the goals we set for ourselves. We can set easy goals that require nothing extra; or, we can set goals that will improve our lives, our skills, and the lives of others, even if they are hard goals to accomplish.
Live a life that is connected to how great and amazing it is to be alive.
As individuals, we should give to others by supporting their virtuous pursuits. We cannot have the “paycheck mentality” where we simply give people money and hope for the best – we have to invest in other individuals in ways that are long-term and sustainable.
A kind family once gave me a place to live for a few months as I worked towards a car. I was an honest kid – I had three jobs, and I was saving money. I cleaned after myself and helped watch over the place. However, their investment was very valuable and helped me when I needed it most.
We should never be foolish with our generosity. Find virtuous people and institutions to help in any way we can, so we can create long-term stability.
We must be faithful to those that are loyal to us. People who defend or support us because we are virtuous deserve our protection and help. That being said, I don’t advocate supporting the manipulative. If someone is trying to buy your loyalty, then leave them be. However, if you’re having financial trouble and a friend helps you? Pay them back and look for an opportunity to assist them in the future. Is someone fighting for truth? Support them and help them move forward. Is someone honestly trying to overcome a vice? Give them a pat on the back and keep them inspired.
Loyalty also involves being loyal to the ideals you espouse. Help people if you believe in charity. Protect the weak if you believe in heroes. We must be loyal to good people and ideas. Lastly, we must never waste time and energy good people have invested in us. If someone gives you a loan, utilize it honestly and invest in your future, not in your short-term desires.
Gratitude is the state of being thankful. We live in a cynical culture where overprivileged people complain about the smallest nonproblems. However, with gratitude, we are able to see the good things that exist which minimizes as well as undermines how often we complain. Yes, traffic sucks but it’s awesome to live in a time with functioning cars. Yes, items are expensive, but this is a great time to practice frugality as well as analyze what we really need in our lives.
We live in a time with an assortment of challenges. However, there are scores of diseases we don’t have to worry about, we have the whole world right in our pockets, and there are other benefits to being alive in today’s time. So practice gratitude to calm the nerves and refocus the mind.
Per ardua ad astra. Courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity to move forward in the face of fear. Many things in life are frightening, but we have to soldier through, so we can accomplish a greater end.
Jobs interviews are intimidating. Asking someone out is gut-wrenching. The economy isn’t looking too good. Keep pushing. Courage and persistence go hand and hand. Persistence is about focusing on the goal, while courage is about reasoning with your fears while pushing through any uncertainty.
Keep your eye on the prize and let the magnitude of your goal elevate you beyond your fears.
Frugality is all about respecting your resources. Do not waste your time, energy, or money on people and things that are toxic and hurtful. Too many individuals spend time consuming garbage media or supporting subpar, negative people. We have to be selfish with what we have and invest in the people and things that elevate us to a more virtuous state.
Why virtues are important
Living virtuously allows us to remove any shame or doubt in what we’re doing. When we act in adherence to righteousness, we can ensure that we’re living our lives to the best of our abilities. Additionally, by being virtuous, we can be confident in our dealings with others. For example, if we are patient and generous during a heated debate, we can take pride in our level-headedness as well as remain confident we handled the situation well even if the other person loses control of their emotions.
Practice the virtues outlines here, and you will see your life dramatically improve for the better.
Here is a list of suggested works that go further into virtue:
- Finding True Happiness by Father Robert Spitzer – This work deals heavily with building happiness through virtues, especially generosity.
- The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu with Douglas Abrams – Both the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu offer key advice on how to build a better, more fulfilling life.
- What is virtue? Why is it important in the Christian life? – A quick and easy blog post on key virtues.
- What are Virtues? – A quick and easy blog post on key virtues.
- THE 3 KEY VIRTUES TO A BETTER LIFE
- 3 MORE VIRTUES TO A BETTER LIFE
- THE LAST 4 KEY VIRTUES TO A BETTER LIFE
Please write these questions out and answer them in your journal.
- Reflect on the key virtues. Do you agree with my definitions? Why? If not, why don’t you and is there anything you would add?
- Which of these virtues are easiest for you to practice? Which virtues are the hardest? Why?
- List out, under each virtue, what you think would be the ideal action to take to show that virtue. Then write out how you would practice it.
- Take the list you made in number three and actually go out and practice each virtue. Track how you exercise each action.
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.