Kindness. Honesty. Service. Virtues are the essence of our character and when we keep the practice of virtues at the heart of everyday life, we live with purpose.
Virtue, by definition, is the moral excellence of a person. Morally excellent people have a character made-up of virtues valued as good. They are honest, respectful, courageous, forgiving, and kind, for example. They do the right thing, and don’t bend to impulses, urges or desires, but act according to values and principles. Some might say good qualities are innate, but we’re not perfect. Virtues need to be cultivated to become more prevalent in life. With the habit of being virtuous, we take the helm of our own life, redirecting its course towards greater happiness and fulfillment.
Why Practice Virtues?
Virtues are universal and recognized by all cultures as basic qualities of well-being. When we practice virtues and build our “character muscle,” we attract what may have been missing in our life such as fulfilling relationships and achievement of meaningful goals. But it’s not easy. So often we know that it takes perseverance to reach our goals, and we still never get there. We know if we forgive, we’ll be less angry and resentful. We know it takes courage to accomplish great things. So why then, if we know what to do, are we still stuck? Because we have not yet consciously and boldly applied a virtue to a given situation so as to alter its outcome such as in these examples:
- Discipline enables a person to achieve the goal of running a 25-mile race, creating better health.
- Kindness towards someone who is having a bad day can make him or her smile and build rapport.
- Creativity can result in an idea that changes how people relate to one another such as social media.
- Trust in a relationship fosters dependability and intimacy, creating valuable, meaningful relationships.
- Gratitude in a job loss can shift our focus from feeling low to how we can have a new, more fulfilling career.
- Service to others can change lives, better neighborhoods and create stronger nations.
Becoming More Virtuous People
We know we are becoming more virtuous people, not only because of the results above but also because of the way other people respond to us. Our friends, families, co-workers, and neighbors will trust and rely on us. They will come to us for guidance and help. They will want to be around us because we inspire them to be better people. People will know us as someone with an exceptional character who makes the right choices and strives for excellence in all we do. Can life be lived any better?
Practicing virtues allows us to develop our potential, and live a more purposeful, better life; a life not ordinary but extraordinary.
For a list of the virtues, click here.