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November 13th, 2009 · 22 Comments · Habits


“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts” – Aristotle.

I’m going to share with you a Crash Course on how to achieve moral perfection in 13 weeks. This course was created a long time ago by one of the greatest minds of our time: Benjamin Franklin. He used this method throughout his life in order to break his bad habits and make good ones stick.

Benjamin Franklin included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurred to him as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent he gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts were:

  1. Temperance
    Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence
    Speak not but what may benefit others or 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. Tranquillity
    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.

How to acquire the habitude of all these virtues?

Don’t distract your attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time, and, when you should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till you should have gone through the thirteen.

Daily examination is necessary => The Benjamin Franklin’s Method

The method used by Benjamin Franklin for conducting that examination proceeds as follows:

  • Make a little notebook and allot a page for each of the virtues.
  • Rule each page with red ink (or other color, as you wish), so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day.
  • Cross these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues.
  • On which line, and in its proper column, you might mark, by a little black spot, every fault you found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.
  • Give a week’s strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, your guard should be to avoid every the least offense against Temperance, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day.

Form benjamin franklin virtues

So, as you can see, you have a course complete in thirteen weeks. But it’s really difficult to have a clean notebook (to achieve moral perfection) just after your first course, that is, a thirteen weeks’ daily examination. That’s why he decided to repeat the process of examination as many times as necessary in order to allow those good habits take root, or in other words, until he had a clean notebook.

So, get rid of garden weeds (bad habits) in your garden and let good herbs grow.


Benjamin Franklin tried to lead his life following these virtues because he knew the benefits far outweigh the effort needed to implement them. I will follow suit. From now on, I will try to lead a virtuous life as well because intention without action is useless. I will take this 13 weeks crash course on how to live a balanced life achieving moral perfection, starting from Monday 16th November to Friday 12th February 2010. I will keep you all posted with my results and experiences in late February. I invite all of you to join me in this amazing challenge and, of course, to share your own experiences and results with the community.

I’ve written this post based on a Benjamin Franklin’s book:

  • You can read the full excerpt from the book here.

*  *  *                                  *  *  *                                *  *  *                               *  *  *

Now, I’m looking to you for some wisdom:

Use the comments section of this post as a forum to post your own experiences, opinions and thoughts on this subject.

And remember, share your thoughts & ideas and enjoy what others share with you 🙂

My Twitter: @DavidCantone


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22 Comments so far ↓

  • KarlilNo Gravatar

    Wow. This is truly a great post. The list is perfect. I especially like point 11. It’s so true. Stumbled.
    .-= Karlil´s last blog ..20 Commandments That Makes A Man =-.

  • Dayne | TheHappySelf.comNo Gravatar

    Wow, this is a brilliant post and great ideas. I love the ideas of virtues because they get right to the point of simplicity.

    Great stuff!

    Dayne 🙂
    .-= Dayne |´s last blog ..How to Build Self Confidence 101 =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Hi Dayne.

      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, when I read these 13 virtues I knew I had to share them with the community. I just think that Benjamin Franklin had a brilliant mind.

      Thanks Dayne for your comment.


  • ChadNo Gravatar

    Interesting post. We can learn a lot from the Franklin’s and Adams’ of the world.
    Stumbled. 😉
    .-= Chad´s last blog ..My Secret to Beating the Flu =-.

  • Gordon CindricNo Gravatar

    Looks like Mr. Franklin would have been an amazing blogger. I actually printed this post out on my printer, going to study it while taking a brake from the PC. Nice one!
    .-= Gordon Cindric´s last blog ..CSS For Absolute Beginners =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Hi Gordon.

      Yes I thought the same: Can you imagine Benjamin Franklin with a personal blog. I think he would have several blogs on different niche topics because he was quiet multidisciplinary: he was a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, statesman, publisher, etc. I’m sure that his blog would be really interesting and very popular 🙂

      Thanks Gordon for your comment.

      See you soon.

  • Oscar - freestyle mindNo Gravatar

    This is really interesting. I might also use it for a system I’m trying to develop for keeping and maintaining habits.
    .-= Oscar – freestyle mind´s last blog ..Story About The Swine Flu And The Vaccine =-.

  • RyanNo Gravatar

    Such an interesting post David. I did not know of Ben Franklin’s list of virtues. #13 could be a tall order though 😉

    I am focused on the Industry virtue at this time in my life. Living life by the clock and purposefully.

  • BillNo Gravatar

    is it working???
    .-= Bill´s last blog ..Making money online from video post =-.

  • MarkoNo Gravatar

    Hi David,

    For years I used to have a time planner system by Franklin Covey. One of the neat things about their system was that they printed quotes and suggestions focusing on 1 specific habit on the daily or weekly calender sheets.

    I totally loved that idea and got a lot out of it.

    Will you follow the exact 13 virtues by Franklin or will you modify them a bit according to your own situation?
    .-= Marko´s last blog ..Upgrade Your Listening Skills with Functional Ear Training =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Hi Marko,

      Good question. Yes, I think I will modify a little bit some virtues, I will adapt them according to modern times.

      I’m going to start this Monday, wish me luck :).
      I will publish my results in late February. I’m excited because I’m going to apply a method created a long time ago by a great man who I admire and respect.

      Thanks for your comment Marko 🙂

      See you.

  • 18 Blog Post You Should Have Read This Week : Internethow Blog

    […] How To Achieve Moral Perfection In 13 Weeks: Benjamin Franklin’s Virtues @ […]

  • Chris ClineNo Gravatar

    Hey David,

    Great list of virtues here.

    Benjamin Franklin was a man ahead of his time as where the other founding fathers of this great country.

    His list of 13 virtues is something alot of us should take under consideration.

    Thanks for this great post
    .-= Chris Cline´s last blog ..God’s Jewels =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Hi Chris, thanks to you for visiting and leaving a comment.

      Yes, it’s a good excercise to build a list of virtues, but we have to use it every day, we have to implement what we learn. As I stated above: Intention without action is useless. That’s why I’m going to take this crash course of 13 weeks :).

      Thanks again Chris for your comment.


  • Zoli CsereiNo Gravatar

    Hi there David,

    I really like all the 13 attributes you listed, and I might consider giving it a try. However, do you think that moral perfection is really something that can be achieved in 13 weeks? That’s definitely a good start, but we ought not forget that moral perfection is the result of years of hard work and self-discipline. We can definitely start this with this guide!

    .-= Zoli Cserei´s last blog ..Simply Will Do Digest – Issue #3 =-.

    • David | ilcantone.comNo Gravatar

      Well, to achieve moral perfection is impossible, it’s just a way to talk about seeking excellence in your life.

      But, what is really important is to make positive changes in our lives, and these 13 virtues are a good way to do so.

      Thanks Zoli for your comment.

      Regards 🙂

  • DennisNo Gravatar

    Great job on Sharing the Simple Virtues
    that Benjamin Franklin believed would
    lead to a Balanced and Happy Life.
    How did your first 13 weeks go?
    Going for another 13 weeks ?
    Great idea on putting the challenge
    out to the community.
    Make it a great day.
    Lead, Follow and Share !

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