Benjamin Franklin is most remembered as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, among other things.
Those who work toward a successful and virtuous life also know him for the 13 virtues he wrote in 1726 when he was only 20 years old.
Benjamin Franklin 13 Virtues – Why He Created Them
Ben Franklin isn't the only person in the history of humans to work at coming up with a manual for being virtuous, meaning having high morals, but Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues offer up all the things you need to be a better person.
Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues was a guide for himself. It made him an all-around better person, and he lived by his virtues on a daily basis. He even carried around a notecard that allowed him to keep track of each one he practiced.
What Are the Ben Franklin Virtues?
These virtues can make a difference in your life. Ben Franklin was a smart and respected guy – so why not be like him?
The 13 virtues Ben Franklin created are as follows:
The idea behind this virtue is to not eat too much and not drink too much. All things in moderation is the basis of this first virtue. Be resistant to the things that will harm your health.
Essentially, this virtue teaches you to only talk about beneficial things. Don't gossip and don't make small talk. Silence is definitely a virtue. People used to teach their children to only speak when they were spoken to.
A virtuous life need order and organization. Make sure your space, at home and at work, is clutter free. Put all things in their place, and make sure they all have a place to be.
Do the things you say you're going to do and do them well. Resolve to do your job, whether it's your career, being a parent, or just policing yourself.
Be frugal. Use the things you buy, and don't buy more things than you need. Don't be wasteful – recycle, compost, and find ways to reuse all of your waste. Put your time into helping others instead of wasting it.
This one is basically all about idle hands. Be doing something useful, whether you're at work or at play. Don't waste your time doing nothing. Be a hard worker and put your all into your career.
Be sincere in all of your actions. Be just toward others. Don't purposely hurt people. Speak truthfully, but only speak accordingly. Don't give unsolicited advice. Don't be a hypocrite either – do the things you suggest of other people.
Don't do anything wrong to another person. Don't lie or omit the truth. Treat everyone with fairness (live by the idea that all people are innocent until you have proof that they are actually guilty).
Do everything in moderation and take nothing to the extreme. This is a lesson in avoiding addiction, hoarding, over-spending, and accumulating things you don't need. Don't go to extremes with your beliefs either – avoid being overly political or religious. Don't push your beliefs on others.
Practice good hygiene. Your body is a temple (and the only one you have), treat it that way. Keep your clothing and your home clean as well. Virtuous people keep everything around them cleanly.
Learn to relax. Don't let things ruffle your feathers. Everyone needs calm in their lives – and not allowing some in can cause stress and anxiety.
Don't overindulge in sexual exploits. Only use sex as a bond with your significant other or for creating life. Do not overdo it, like all things, do it in moderation.
Walk in the shoes of Socrates and Jesus. Be humble. Don't view yourself as more important than anyone else – all humans are equal.
Putting the 13 Virtues to Work for You
While the original writing of these 13 virtues (they have been altered and paraphrased here) is a bit dated, they are all virtues by which you could and maybe should live by even in this day and age. They will lead to a healthier and happier, and more successful life.
You could consider writing the virtues down on a notecard like Franklin did and carrying them with you to look back at throughout the day. The virtues are reminders to treat yourself and others kindly.
Be Virtuous Using Ben Franklin’s 13 Rules
Even if you don't follow these specific virtues, you should still do what you can every day to be a good person. Take care of yourself, and each other.