Wednesday, November 17, 2010

thirteen virtues

(via Miss Bonaparte)
When he was young, Benjamin Franklin transcribed a list of thirteen important virtues that he felt were important guides for living. At the end of each day, Franklin would record his progress and transgressions in a book. It is not the virtues themselves that inspire me (Franklin seems to have wanted to limit his pleasure, while my desire is to enhance it), but rather his daily act of reflection and mindfulness. Franklin admitted that he often lapsed in at least one of his virtues; but he always resolved to do better the next day. And it is, I think, the promise to do better that makes us better. Not necessarily being an angel (or, as Franklin said, achieving "Moral Perfection"), but striving to be.

So I have created my own virtues. Actually, I don't know whether they should be called virtues - maybe just things to remember; or, things to keep in mind as I go about my day. Most of them are quite simple but surprisingly easy to forget in the messiness of life. I don't think I will actually assess myself by marking them off, but I will reflect upon them each night, and peruse them again each morning. My hope is that, one day, they will become so ingrained in my frame of mind that I will abide by them, subconsciously. Living lightly, joyfully and lovingly, each and every day.

The most important things in life aren't things.

What you do, the way you think, makes you beautiful.

Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake…

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

Cherish your visions. 
Cherish your ideals. 
Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. 
For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.

I have no advice for anybody; except to, you know, be awake enough to see where you are at any given time, and how that is beautiful, and has poetry inside. Even places you hate.

Nothing external to you has any power over you.

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.

Tell everyone what you want to do and someone will want to help you do it.

What you are comes to you.

Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.

Oppression involves a failure in the imagination. A failure to imagine the full humanity of other human beings.

Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy.

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.

You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.

Do everything with so much love in your heart that you would never want to do it any other way.

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children... to leave the world a better place... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.

Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.

It's what you do that makes your soul.

(NB These are all quotes from some of my favourite writers or thinkers; the only reason I have not credited them in my list is because I know them from memory. They are as follows: Avarice - Anthony J. D'Angelo; Beauty - Scott Westerfield; Begin - Marie Beyon Ray; Career - Harold Whitman; Change - Anne Frank; Cherish - James Allen; Consciousness - Jeff Buckley; Courage - Ralph Waldo Emerson; Decisions - Flora Whittemore; Dreams - W. Clement Stone; Faith - Ralph Waldo Emerson; Freedom - Voltaire; Friendship - Charlotte Lunsford; Hope - Barbara Kingsolver; Humanity - Margaret Atwood; Joy - Milton Erickson; Kindness - Mother Teresa; Life - Jiddu Krishnamurti; Love - Yogi Desai; Nature - Anne Frank; Peace - Chuck Palahniuk; Reading - Scott F. Fitzgerald; Success - Ralph Waldo Emerson; Today - Siddhārtha Gautama; Writing - Barbara Kingsolver; Work - Barbara Kingsolver.)


natalieW said...

I love this. Every single bit.

Thx for sharing. x

allanah said...

I love this!
The quote on decisions struck me because that's where I am in my own life right now.
Lovely idea.

Laura Valerie said...

Thank you so much lovelies :) xx