Let’s face it, being human is not easy! Too much of a good trait turns into a bad trait. Confidence becomes arrogance, courage turns reckless, organized becomes OCD, a strong work ethic triggers burnout. Striving to be humble, we become overly self-deprecating, our prudence leads to hesitation and missed opportunities.
The nature of a virtue is that a vice is almost always hidden inside… The seven deadly sins might very well have started out as ambition, relaxation, awareness of one’s good work, righteous anger, a healthy sexuality, and enjoying a good meal. It’s all a matter of degree.” ~Mary Loftus
VIRTUE is best understood along the spectrum of a given trait. The point of greatest virtue then is somewhere between the extremes of deficiency and excess. Philosophers refer to a golden mean…noting it may not be the exact midpoint, but rather, the optimal point for you and your current situation.
Keywords: you, current.
This week’s word then reminds us to assess and reevaluate our virtues. Which ones are truly guiding you toward excellence and which need to be fine-tuned…or dramatically re-calibrated…because they are guiding you toward destruction?!
While we often think of VIRTUES as lofty traits ordained by the great philosophers or religious leaders, psychologist Blaine Fowers offers a simpler definition… and further evidence why that plank practice could be quite virtuous in your life!
Does the VIRTUE in question meet these criteria:
- Is it a habit?
- Is it properly motivated?
- Is it engaged in for good reason(s)?
- Is it appropriate to the situation?
A habit creates a cycle that can be either virtuous or vicious. Economists describe these virtuous or vicious cycles as feedback loops. Each iteration of the cycle reinforces the previous one, leading to desirable outcomes like economic growth or undesirable outcomes like hyperinflation. As in the economy, in ourselves, too, these cycles continue in the direction of their momentum — for better or for worse — until an external factor intervenes and breaks them.
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” ~Aristotle
Want to explore VIRTUE further? Check out Write your Eulogy…VIRTUE.