Saturday, August 25, 2007

Benjamin Franklin's 13 areas of self improvement

I received part 36 of 75 yesterday of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin via DailyLit. I am almost half way through! (If you want to sign up, go here.)

Benjamin Franklin writes about how he started a process of self improvement by focusing on various virtues:


1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; 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; i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd 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 benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


Years ago when I took a class on using the Franklin Covey planner system the teacher said that originally Benjamin Franklin only has twelve, and a friend point out to him that maybe he ought to also work on humility.

Benjamin Franklin makes the point in his autobiography that it is hard to improve without having a focus. By working on each of these areas, one at a time, he could make some progress.

As parents we often find ourselves doing this with our daughters. We'll focusing on having them help more around the house by doing the dishes, and then we'll focus on some school work, and then we'll read the scriptures with them, and so on.


(Update I - 29 August)
In Section 39 of the DailyLit emails is the account of adding humility:

"My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride show'd itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc'd me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word."


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3 comments:

Jose Lara said...

Please take a look at the LA Times. This principal has been removed. For more links on this issue visit: http://www.decolonizing.com/santee.htm

I agree this is just one step into imporving the educational conditions at Santee. But it is an important first step.

Ed Hird+ said...

Benjamin Franklin had a remarkable impact in so many ways, particularly in the areas of education and character development. A Benjamin Franklin article just received the ‘Top 100 Electricity Blogs’ Award http://bit.ly/z8Ckp

Self Improvement said...

These phrases can automatically limit what you can achieve. Instead, turn those negative phrases into positive ones and learn to start your sentences positively. Focus on phrases like "I do" or "I can" and you'll realize that it is possible to achieve things you never thought were possible before.