Life Coach Magazine

The Force of Habit

By None @DefyGravityToo
I'm a teacher at heart, and there’s almost nothing that thrills me more than watching someone’s eyes light up as they grasp a new concept or master a skill. Even though research shows that our personalities stabilize by 20 and solidify by 50, that doesn't mean we can't keep learning throughout our lives and change habits that hold us back from fulfilling our dreams.  The Force of HabitLeading neuroscientist Samuel Barondes in a wonderful new book titled Making Sense of People:  Decoding the Mysteries of Personality, cites the example of Benjamin Franklin.  From his early twenties until he died at 85, Franklin kept working to "guard...against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits and the force of perpetual temptations." Settling on 13 virtues he wished to acquire--temperance (eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation), silence (speak not but what may benefit others and yourself), order (let each part of your business have its time), resolution (perform without fail what you resolve), frugality (make no expense but to do good to others or to yourself), industry (lose no time), sincerity (use no hurtful deceit), justice (wrong none by doing injuries), moderation (avoid extremes), cleanliness (tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation), tranquility (be not disturbed at trifles), chastity (rarely use venery but for health or offspring), and humility—Franklin methodically worked his way down his list, focusing on one virtue per week.  Every 13 weeks, he’d start over again, keeping meticulous track of his progress in a tiny book in which he marked “by a little black spot, every fault [he] found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue."
Even in old age, Franklin carried his list with him.  In looking back at his life, he concluded:  “[T]hough I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavor, a better and happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it."

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