How to Live With Pride and Virtue
What is a Virtuous Life?
What does it mean to be proud and virtuous?
Virtue defines the moral characteristics of a person that are universally deemed to be good.
Virtuous people do the right thing, as determined by what they believe is right or wrong.
No one is born with fully developed virtuous character traits.
Instead, we're are all born with “virtue potential”.
Aristotle said that excellence is a habit. The same goes for your virtues.
Virtues don’t develop on their own.
They need to be cultivated, and hard-wired into your neurology by repetition.
What Are the Common Virtues?
Your ability to set an outcome and keep going until that outcome has been accomplished.
You replace the lure of laziness, procrastination, and ease with determination, persistence, and ultimate success.
Your ability to treat yourself and others with empathy, dignity, and respect.
When you extend kindness to people they tend to return the same to you.
Seeing and appreciating what you have right now.
It doesn’t mean you don't desire more or that you’re perfectly happy where you are.
It means acknowledging and being thankful for what you already have while at the same time striving towards becoming more.
Contribution is one of the highest human virtues.
The ability to put your own self-interest to the side for the betterment of a greater good.
To contribute is to give your time, focus, and emotional energy to something you believe in.
Trust and reliability are the foundational virtues of all human relationships.
With them, the world can function in relative peace and cohesion.
Without them, the world is open and vulnerable to chaos, war, and human suffering.
What is a Virtuous Life?
A virtuous life is living by your highest standards and values.
Not because you want to impress people or get attention, but because you know in your heart it’s the right thing to do.
Once you’ve developed a virtuous character and live your life by it, you start to move in a more positive direction.
Human beings are guided by their habitual thoughts and actions.
We live lives that largely reflect how we see ourselves, other people, and the wider world.
When you live in alignment with your highest virtues, your self-image, confidence, and esteem naturally rise.
The Reality of Living a Virtuous Life
When you're known as a virtuous person people’s perceptions of you gravitate towards the positive.
Your evaluations and decisions become more effective because they’re supported by a framework of honour and integrity, instead of selfishness and cunning.
A virtuous life is living as your best self, day in and day out.
Virtue by no means implies perfection, far from it.
No one is perfect. Everyone’s life is fraught with imperfection and peril.
But amidst all of that, the virtuous character rises above, as a sign of light and a pillar of strength in an otherwise harsh and confusing world.
Why is Virtue Important?
Virtues are recognised across all cultures and belief systems.
They are the essential qualities of human well being.
By practicing your virtues (living them as opposed to talking about them or ignoring them) you inevitably strengthen your character and improve your position in the world.
When it comes to making important decisions, always consult your virtues.
Most of the time we cause the most pain for ourselves and others when we do things that deep down we know aren’t the right thing to do (they go against our virtues).
You could be lying or having an affair, letting your anger take control of you, or talking yourself down.
But when your guiding light comes from your virtues your decisions and their consequences will inevitably lead you toward a happier and more fulfilling life.
How Do You Become Virtuous?
You likely already are a virtuous person, maybe you’re just letting a few thoughts and impulses lead you away from virtue and towards self-sabotage.
Every person recognises what virtues are (whether they use that term or not), but not everyone is living by them.
Our life experiences, the environments we grew up in and the thoughts and behaviours we were exposed to all contribute to how we live today.
Do You Know Your Virtues?
Even a prisoner knows what virtues are, but because of wiring and social conditioning, they find it harder to live by them.
Sadly, many never had someone to show them by example what a virtuous human being looks like and how they conduct themselves in the world.
Becoming virtuous starts with defining what’s right and wrong. Virtue is a choice, but a choice worth making.
Here are a few ideas on how you can become more virtuous, improve your self-image, have better relationships, and experience higher levels of personal success...
6 Ways to Be More Virtuous
1. Live in Alignment With Your Highest Goals
You have goals and dreams that you want to accomplish in your life, but how committed are you to reaching them?
Keeping goals as just that, "a goal" is a form of procrastination and a convenient way to accommodate your fears.
If you try and fail, well won’t you look silly?
The people around you will laugh and discount your capabilities, your self-esteem will take a blow and you’ll feel like an idiot.
But if your goal stays as a goal and you don’t really try (you don't sacrifice or work obsessively towards it) you can avoid embarrassment, failure, and shame.
2. Choose to Live a Virtuous Life
True virtue is pursuing your dream wholeheartedly despite the risk of defeat, embarrassment, and failure.
To be more virtuous, become more committed. That means no “half-assing” it.
Either you’re in or you’re out. If you’re out no problem you can do something else.
But if you’re in, that means working tirelessly, obsessively towards your goal, whatever it may be.
3. Appreciate More
Being selfish and self-absorbed, thinking we're more important than other people are signs of a disconnect with your authentic self.
We’re so focused on ourselves we rarely make an effort to connect with people on a humane level.
That lady standing behind the counter at the checkout or the guy making your morning coffee, how often do you give them a second thought?
Showing appreciation is simply acknowledging a person or a gesture.
It doesn’t have to be a big thing or a grand act on your part.
Next time you’re going through your day, stop, and acknowledge what’s going on around you.
Be appreciative of everything around you that makes your life what it is.
4. Speak Your Truth
Speaking your truth takes courage.
It’s all too easy to be part of a conversation and hold back on saying what you truly think and believe.
It’s a safer option than separating yourself from the status quo and standing out as different from the others.
But courage is a virtue, and speaking your truth is courage.
People respect people who aren’t afraid to speak their truth.
When you see or hear something that goes against your beliefs and values, speak up.
When it's time to have a tough conversation with an intimate partner, a colleague, or a friend or child, don't hold back.
Suppressing your truth erodes your self-esteem.
Your conscience knows what virtue is, and when you allow fear to replace virtue in that moment you've substituted strength and courage for weakness and fear.
Speaking openly and truthfully about your opinions and ideas is the hallmark of a virtuous character.
5. Stay Focused in Challenging Times
As you progress towards your goals you’ll inevitably come up against a series of challenges and setbacks.
A virtuous character keeps a calm and rational mind when things aren’t working out.
Instead of allowing their emotions to take over they ask intelligent questions;
What am I doing/not doing that could be causing this result?
How can I turn this setback around to my advantage?
What will I do differently from here on so as not to experience this again?
What part of me do I need to change/improve/let go of so that this won’t be a problem for me again?
What’s the best solution?
How can I be better?
When you’re clear about your goals and you know why you want them, it’s easier to maintain focus.
Strength is a virtue. Focus and durability is a virtue. Persistence in the face of failure is also a virtue.
6. Love and Respect Yourself
The ultimate virtue is to like and respect yourself. From that base comes all other virtues.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a virtuous human being who didn’t respect themselves, like themselves, and carry themselves with dignity.
How you view yourself is often how you view other people and the world around you.
The purpose of virtuous living is to be a good person, to live an enriched life, and to contribute value to the world while you’re here.
And that's a pretty good purpose to aim for.
Quotes About Living a Virtuous Life
“The person who talks most of his own virtue is often the least virtuous” - Jawaharlal Nehru
“The most virtuous are those who content themselves with being virtuous without seeking to appear so” - Plato
“There never was a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous” - Benjamin Franklin
“The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous” - Frederick Douglass
“People must have righteous principals in the first, and then they will not fail to perform virtuous actions” - Martin Luther