Happiness Comes from Living a Life of Virtue
If happiness, or rather, authentic joy, comes from living a life of virtue, then apparently we need to figure out what these virtues really are!
So here you go. A list of virtues. Now, obviously, the caveat is that not everyone agrees on this list. So I could keep on listing until we’re all listed out. (Is that a phrase?)
For the sake of time, I’m sharing what I believe is a fairly comprehensive list, but again, it’s my opinion.
- Chastity-What is it and what does it have to do with me? Let’s look at it’s opposite, or vice: Lust. Okay, now before you go crazy or click away, let’s give you a little bit more to go on. Discretion, cleanliness, and Wikipedia gives this description: The ability to refrain from being distracted and influenced by hostility, temptation or corruption. It’s about doing your best and examining yourself for continual improvement. When you do your best, you feel great.
- Temperance-If you look at the opposite of this one, the vice is gluttony. Now it doesn’t just pertain to food. Too much of a good thing is still too much, and I’m sure you’ve heard that before. So we need to “temper” everything we do with a question: How much of this is too much?
- Generosity-This one seems like an easy one to hit out of the park. We think as long as we assuage our guilty consciences by throwing some change in a red kettle at Christmas or give to our churches we are being generous, and there’s no way we could be seen as greedy. Greed is the vice here, and it’s easy to throw money at things to make ourselves feel better, but there’s always more we can do, and giving makes us happy!
- Diligence-No one wants to be considered lazy, but that’s just what the opposite of diligent is: a sloth! Fortitude, a zealous nature and guarding against laziness are ways to budget your time and talents correctly. When you’re firing on all cylinders, you’re using your time more wisely, which saves money, and you’re using your resources wisely, which saves money. You don’t give up easily, and that’s a great feeling.
- Patience-I’m not just talking about patience with your kids, although I’m sure we can always use help in this area, but patience in every area. Peaceful stability, forgiveness, mercy, these all fall into this category. The vice here is wrath, which I’m sure we’ve all experienced. Obviously, losing our temper in any area is not the best way to do business, family or life, but being able to keep our cool in difficult situations can bring us a real sense of satisfaction. This sounds a lot like happiness to me!
- Kindness-What goes hand in hand with patience? Kindness, of course! Being loyal, compassionate and having integrity are ways to show kindness to everyone. Envy is the vice in this situation. If we are envious of our friend’s large house, a business associate’s sales success or even relationships with others, happiness is the farthest thing from our reach.
- Humility-Modesty and a lack of pride shows humility. A false sense of humility can be one of the most annoying traits in a person. “Pride goes before a fall,” a famous quote from the Bible, is oh-so-true. The higher we raise ourselves, the farther and harder we fall, and that splat when we hit bottom is far from joyous!
Practice Makes Happy
So if striving for these virtues makes us happy, how do we keep the happiness going? Practice, of course! So the challenge this week is to work on this. Obviously, we want to strive for the best part of all of these virtues, but sometimes it’s easier to take baby steps.
Challenge #3: What’s your vice?
Which one of these vices do you struggle with? Leave me a comment letting me know. If you’ve found ways to overcome your vice, please share with me how you’ve done it! My biggest struggle has always been with pride, but of course, I’ve always got my work cut out for me in each of these areas!
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available for pre-order now!