Are these the Morals & Virtues to live by?


in Always Be Learning, Discipline, Motivation

Thanks to Mike at Hotel Kokomo in Culebra, PR – who has kindly tapped me into his internet network while I’m waiting for a boat – I am able to get my blog out on time this week – THANKS MIKE!

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. – Ben Franklin

Every successful person I’ve ever studied, met or read about has had some formula for success. Ben Franklin was no different.  An avid reader, successful businessman and founder of the nation’s first public library, he worked diligently to improve his character through a plan of 13 virtues.   A high achiever, respected by his community and his peers yet he constantly sought ways to get better – do we see a pattern developing here?

I’m going to share with you Ben Franklin’s list of 13 moral virtues he thought were essential to living a happy, healthy, successful and virtuous life.  Check em out below and if you’re ambitious and want to have some fun with it – see if you can follow his plan!

(The plan) Franklin focused on only one virtue at a time, for a week and then moved on to the next virtue, cycling through the list four times a year.   Is that something you think you could do?  Does the list below fit your life?  Why or why not?  What areas of your life and habits are you trying to improve right now or are you investing in hope, which really isn’t much of a strategy at all now is it?

  1. Temperance.  Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation
  2. Silence.  Speak not but what may benefit others of 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 employed 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 uncleanliness 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.

A small leak can sink a great ship.  Ben Franklin

While Franklin admittedly did not live completely by his virtues and by his own admission, he fell short of them many times (especially ORDER); he believed the attempts made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness.

If your formula for success and living a virtuous life isn’t working, why not give this list a try? Do you think Franklin’s list holds true today?  What would you add or subtract from his list to make it your own?  Which of the virtues listed above do you struggle with the most?

Hope you enjoyed this week’s blog!

Until next week….Keep reading, learning, exploring, and living! 

PS – If you happen to have a Kindle click here and get a FREE copy of Franklin’s autobiography.  If you don’t have a Kindle and you travel often – isn’t it about time to pick one up?

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  • Darian

    Ok, so I seriously do not know if this is my favorite blog post so far because its everything i believe in or if its because Ben Franklin has to do with all of these. But, if one thing is true, i now know why every time I read a Ben Franklin quote i more or less identify and agree with it. By far one of my favorite entries you’ve posted! Thanks Joe! Keep enjoying your vacation! :)

    and PS people you do not need to get with the times, with a kindle or nook, touching the paper in a book is an amazing feeling. In some ways its good to stay old fashioned :)

  • Joe Sweeney

    Thanks Darian – appreciate the comments and feedback and your ReTweeting of my blog! I look forward to discussing Ben Franklin’s autobiography when you get through it so please keep me posted. His accomplishments are truly impressive but all too often we read about people who experience outward success but are fighting internal demons. His demeanor, inner peace and humility are what makes his story so compelling. And I agree with you there is a certain pleasure with turning the pages of a book and remembering where on a page something is/was, however for travel (since I usually bring multiple books) I still think the Kindle cannot be beat! Best wishes, live in the moment today! For those of you on Twitter who want to follow me I tweet affirmations, travel, fitness, business, positive quotes and anything else that makes me smiles and I’m @thejoesweeney!

  • Pavel Šimek


    What a nice article.
    I like the way you are able to write about important things without useless words.

    Do you plan to share the way you implement 13 virtues into your life?
    Do you use the original chart with dots? (Are you satisfied with it?)

    I realized, I was not satisfied with the Franklin’s original technique. I was just missing notes.
    Sometimes, I need to review some progress in learning from my own mistakes.
    I made a hybrid journal for this purpose.

    Thanks for inspirational blog,
    I am going to read your other posts.


  • Joe Sweeney

    Hello Pavel. For starters thank you for reading and I really appreciate your comment and feedback. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Admittedly I have not implemented BF’s 13 virtues into my life yet but I plan to try to apply them one a week, just as suggested in the book. Love the fact that you journal, it’s been one of life’s little pleasures for me the last couple years.

    Thanks for your feedback – feel free to email me at with any other thoughts or comments. Best wishes!

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