Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues of Life

A little while back I was reading Benjamin Franklin’s Book of Virtues. In the book, Franklin refers to his 13 Virtues of Life. Subsequently, in this post I wanted to share his 13 Virtues as well as how you can start to create your own.


What is a Virtue?

Following are a few definitions on virtue –

After reading the above, what is your definition of a virtue? Do you see them as something that would be useful in your life?


7 Quotes on Virtues

  1. “Virtue has its own reward, but no box office.” ~ Mae West
  2. “Good example is the best sermon.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
  3. “Our virtues are like crystals hidden in rocks. No man shall find them by any soft ways, but by the hammer and by fire.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
  4. “All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.” ~ Aristotle
  5. “Virtue is the habit of acting according to wisdom.” ~ Gottfried Leibniz
  6. “Ability may get you to the top but it’s character that will keep you there.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
  7. “Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Do you have a favourite virtue quote? If so, feel free to share it below.


Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues of Life

Now we are clear on what a virtue is, I would like to share Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues of Life. Franklin created the 13 Virtues to cultivate his character and practiced them throughout his life. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin indicates the virtues are –

  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; that is, waste nothing.
  6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employ’d 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. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity…
  13. “Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.” (p.1723). 


How Franklin Worked on the 13 Virtues

In the book, Benjamin Franklin’s Book of Virtues, he indicated that his intention was to – “acquire the habitude of all virtues” (p. 16). Going on to say –

“I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another; and so on, till I should have gone on to the thirteen. And, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view.” (p.16).


Creating Your Own Virtues

Do you have virtues for your own life? If not, do you think it could be useful for your life to create your own virtues? As a starting point, you could look through Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues of Life and identify the ones that resonate with you or you could start from scratch to create your own.

For example, if someone was struggling with managing themselves and feeling overwhelmed. They might practise –

They person could also add other virtues and skills, such as building self-management skills, cultivating trust and courage etc.

Once you decided on your own values, the key is to practise and pay attention to them daily 🙂


Over to You…

I hope this post has increase your knowledge and understanding of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues of Life and how they may be relevant to life today. If you have any questions, please let me know below in the comments.

If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards freedom and opening your heartwhy not join our Toolkit?


References –

Franklin, B. (2004). The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. New York, USA: Touchstone.

Franklin, B. (2016). Benjamin Franklin’s Book of Virtues. Massachusetts, USA: Applewood Books.

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