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The Franklin Method of Self-Improvement

It’s been a long time since I read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. But I seem to have embraced some of his wisdom anyway. I have become an almost-compulsive tracker of my own activities. I log all my food and exercise, I keep a sort of time sheet to make sure I spend my hours in ways that keep me moving forward, I have a periodic journal of thoughts, and this blog is a record of my view of worldly events.

Franklin had perhaps even more interests than I do, but he kept his focus on essential virtues:

As such, he himself attempted to always live by this code and developed charts with which he charted his progress from day to day, to make sure that he was constantly improving towards this end.

He would start with one of the virtues and plot his progress on the chart until he mastered that virtue; then moving on to the next; and so on until he mastered them all. He ordered them specifically as shown below, as some of them naturally lend towards others. Thus by sticking to this order, he felt it made it easier to achieve the whole.

This code is as follows:

  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 Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes, or Habitation
  11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity: Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

I have a long way to go.