Benjamin Franklin’s method of habit formation

| Total Words: 457

Benjamin Franklin, inventor, statesman, writer, publisher and economist relates in his autobiography that early in his life he decided to focus on arriving at moral perfection. He made a list of 13 virtues, assigning a page to each. Under each virtue he wrote a summary that gave it fuller meaning. Then he practiced each one for a certain length of time.

To make these virtues a habit, Franklin can up with a method to grade himself on his daily actions. In a journal he drew a table with a row for every virtue and a column for every day of the week. Every time he made a fault, he made a mark in the appropriate column. Each week he focused his attention on a different virtue. Over time, through repetition, he hoped to one day experience the pleasure of “viewing a clean Book.”

He says that he carried out this personal examination for years. In order to do the work thoroughly he decided to attempt each virtue and a quarter of its importance – one at a time. He began with temperance, which included the moderating of every pleasure or inclination to develop undesirable habits, because temperance “tends to procure that coolness and clearance and...

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