As he records in his Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin “conceiv’d the bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection.”
From his reading, he came up with a catalogue of thirteen moral virtues, and he drew up a graph on which he scored his successes and failures each day.
His Project was a big inspiration for my Happiness Project — I even copied his scoring chart. Here’s his list:
1. Temperance. Eat not to Dulness. 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: i.e., 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 Extreams. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Cloaths, or Habitation.
11. Tranquility. Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity. Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.
13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
His list is still great advice — although #12 would probably be phrased a bit differently today.