Living a Virtuous Life
Healthy living is virtuous living. Some may be innately good--virtuous. For the remainder of us, living virtuously requires constant effort. Often the devil whispers louder than the angel. Our body's natural selfish drives compete with social virtues. We get comfortable, listen to biological impulses and aimlessly drift from principles that are concerned with the overall well-being of others.
In Hebrew the word for virtue, ma’alot, means steps. Being virtuous is not an all-or-nothing task but a task of continuous small steps; these small steps create subtle interior shifts. Inner shifts challenge habits, thoughts and behaviors—our personal values slowly merge with humanistic virtues. We never arrive at a final stage where we may declare, “I am now virtuous.” There is always more work to be done, behaviors to monitor, and desires to tame.
Benjamin Franklin devised a personal plan for perfection, working on one virtue at a time. Once he perfected a virtue, he would move to another desired virtue on the list. He meticulously kept notes of successes and failures. His conscientious efforts successfully developed his practice of the virtues. But he discovered when he moved to the next virtue, the earlier perfected virtue would slip, and he could return later to work again on that virtue. He never mastered all the virtues at the same time.
Virtuous living is a never ending process.
Lao-Tzu named four cardinal virtues: Reverence for all life, Natural Sincerity, Gentleness, and Supportiveness. He identified these virtues over 2500 years ago, they still are relevant and provide a foundation for personal virtue inventory. Where do you stand?
This site (List of Virtues) provides a list of virtues, along with quotes which can assist us in our personal work.
"A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being." ~James E. Faust