13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

The face of hundred-dollar bills had a way to live a good life.

Besides being the mastermind behind municipal cleaning services and public libraries, that guy had his life pretty much figured out. From his autobiography one can learn what motivated that ingenious man and allowed him to guide the citizens of Pennsylvania and beyond.

At an early stage of his life, Benjamin Franklin started to practice the art of dealing with people. A skill equally useful nowadays.

Basically, he figured out that if he controlled his behavior and words in a certain way, he could shape reality. He started working on himself. Through character development, so searching for the truth within, he shaped the world outside and changed it for the better.

Franklin didn’t identify himself with any religion whatsoever, but he chose the way of striving to be good. This is a universal truth, the highest moral ideal a person can try to be – be good. It’s beyond any sect, belief, or nationality. At the age of 20, he wrote down 12 virtues, which he was to follow in his life.

However, after a consultation with one of his friends, he noticed another drawback. He was told that in many conversations he could be seen as proud. Thus, he added another virtue to his list, as to counter that vice.

Here’s a complete list of the thirteen Benjamin Franklin’s virtues, each with a note on what a bright person like you – a Gen Zer – can make out of them to build a better life.


Whether you’re out drinking, grabbing a bite to eat downtown, or watching another Netflix series – know your limits and have your limits.

Don’t let your life be only about pleasures. Sure, you can have a beer with friends and unwind on your sofa on Fridays, just remember to maintain the balance.


Say only things that may benefit others or yourself. What can that mean?

Restrain from gossip, complaining, or thoughtless criticisms. They only make you bitter in the eyes of your friends.

Oh, and before you leave a hateful comment on Twitter, think twice.

There’s better ways to use the internet! Don’t know how to do it? Check out how to use the internet.


Whether you live alone or with roommates, let everything have its place.

Unload the dishwasher if you see it’s full, put the milk back in the fridge, pick up your socks from he floor. Those aren’t any big challenges, but they mean a lot.


You said you give up on smoking? Then no more cigarettes it is.

You went on a diet? You better put that strawberry jam away.

You planned you were going to study? Grab your books and do it.

Whatever you promise to yourself, do it.


The internet is full of clickbaity products, supposed breakthroughs, and other gizmos.

Before purchasing another online subscription, think this decision through.

Do you really need it? How is it going to change your life for the better?

Save your money if you can. And stop buying useless shit. Just stop.


Franklin decided to “cut off all unnecessary actions.”

Take a look at your day and be true to yourself: how much time did you waste?

Then: what was the reason for such waste?

Get rid of them from your life. Focus on what’s meaningful, things that will actually get you somewhere.


Lies may seem to be a good way to go, but they work only short-term.

In the long run, it pays off to be truthful most of the times.

Use your words to create joy and convey facts.

In other words, don’t be fake news.


Justice is also one of the 4 virtues of stoicism, yet Benjamin Franklin never called himself one.

This one works two ways.

First: don’t hurt people – either verbally or physically.

Second: don’t hurt yourself.

If there’s an opportunity waiting for you, then go ahead and grab it. Don’t analyze whether you’re good enough – you are!


Again, as mentioned above, think about balance. In this sense, it’s mostly about having control over your inner animal.

You can learn more on how to do it by learning the 3 steps to controlling your emotions.


Keep it neat.

Your don’t need designer clothes, even a T-shirt can do if you iron it from time to time.

The floor in that downtown room you rent probably isn’t made out of marble. Still, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t vacuum it.

Finding yesterday’s dinner leftovers is just nasty. Even Franklin would clean that up.


The internet connection’s slow again?

That guy you like hasn’t replying since yesterday?

Find you inner peace of mind.

Breathe in…

… and breathe out.

Keep calm and keep going. It’ll be alright.


This word sounds a bit lofty, and to some it may appear to be out-of-place in the 21st century.

Whether you keep your virginity till marriage, the age of 18, or next Friday – it’s up to you.

But do it responsibly. That’s also a kind of purity.

Don’t go to bed with anyone, and when you do, remember about good old protection.


The art of humbleness was the one that Franklin struggled the most with. I was the one he added only after consulting a friend.

I have also found it quite difficult so far, especially before I took responsibility for myself.

Even in his older days, Benjamin would question his own humility.

After all, isn’t writing about your own humility a kind of pride?


It’s been about 300 years since Benjamin Franklin wrote his 13 virtues, a moral guide through life. The same values can still be of great advantage to your character development.

Franklin was born in a modest family. He achieved success, because he worked on his behavior.

You can follow these thirteen virtues, or create a list of your own. Specify your goals, and let your life have meaning. You’re a Gen Zer, there’s a life ahead of you!

Make it matter.

Published by Dawid Tysowski


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