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Benjamin Franklin on Self-Improvement

At the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin discovered the importance of self-improvement. He created a 13-week self-improvement challenge, pushing himself to meet the demands of a new virtue each week. Here are Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues, which continue to be relevant today.

1. Temperance

Don’t eat until you’re stuffed, and don’t drink until you puke. It’s all about moderation.

2. Silence

Think before you speak. Your words can hurt others, and sometimes it’s much better to say nothing at all.

3. Order

Creativity has its advantages, but sometimes it’s nice to follow a routine. Make a list of things you want to do each day, and check them off. Put your clothes in the drawers and your books on the shelves. Everything in your house has its place.

4. Resolution

Don’t just make a goal, but achieve it. Set your heart and mind on what you want to achieve, and don’t back down. Never give up.

5. Frugality

Save your money. I know that movie theater sized TV would fit perfectly in your basement, but you never know when you might need the money for something more important. Waste not, want not.

6. Industry

Only put your energy into the important things in life. Eat a meal with your family. Talk about life with your friends. Don’t waste your life away posting pictures on Facebook.

7. Sincerity

Don’t be mean; it’s plain and simple. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Be courteous to those around you. Be honest. Be the real you.

8. Justice

Always treat those around you with fairness. Don’t think that you deserve more than anyone else. We are all equal.

9. Moderation

Don’t let your heart or your head rule your life. Find the balance between bravery and cowardice. The world isn’t as black and white as it seems. There is always a middle ground.

10. Cleanliness

For most people in this day and age, cleanliness is easy. Shower regularly, brush your teeth twice a day, wash your hands before you eat, and clean your clothes. Or, at the very least, put on deodorant and spray perfume.

11. Chastity

Treat all relationship partners with the utmost respect.

12. Tranquility

Don’t let the harsh sides of life bother you. If music calms your nerves, then listen. If writing allows you to relax, then write. Find the activities that bring you peace, and stick with them.

13. Humility

Humility does not mean being shy or timid, but rather requires you to realize your strengths and weaknesses. Know what you can do, and know what you can’t. Don’t fill your head with pride. Be honest with yourself.

Nobody’s perfect, and following these 13 virtues is guaranteed to help you improve your character. Do what Benjamin Franklin did: pick a virtue, and write down whether or not you’ve met that virtue for the week.

You could even take it a step further and pick up a journal. Journaling is a great way to make sure that you are committed to the self-improvement process, and everybody can use a little self-improvement now and then.

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