What Next after Week Two?

Congratulations on completing the lesson for Week Two.  Now it’s time to start putting things into practice!

You should start using the techniques covered right now, if possible, and continue with them each day throughout the following week.  If you think you might have any problems adhering to the daily practices, or need any clarification, get in touch right away with the course facilitator.

However, your first step should be to visit the Comments section below, as soon as you’re ready, and post your thoughts on the question for this week:

“What constitutes true human ‘virtue’ or makes a person genuinely admirable?  What qualities might define someone’s character as truly good or bad?”

As you think this over, consider how even a simple act like answering this question and commenting on the forums might relate to your personal conception of virtue.  How could your interaction with others be made completely in harmony with your own core values?

Here’s a second question for you to consider, and discuss, if you want:

What’s the relationship between what’s truly “healthy” or beneficial for you and what’s genuinely “praiseworthy”?  How do these compare to what’s desirable or worth choosing to pursue in life?

Now go to the Comments section below and reply with your thoughts.

If there’s anything whatsoever you could use help with, either technical stuff or the course content, please don’t hesitate to contact the course facilitator.

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  1. Have to agree with derberters comment around kindness. Pondering does kindness bring about the connectedness that makes the virtues ‘good’. A little like Google’s ‘do no evil’ as a foundation point.

  2. What constitutes true human virtue ..?
    I think that self-knowledge and being honest with yourself initially plays an important role, as well as making the decision to lead a “good” life.
    What I consider as truly good is very close to the comments below, in my words : being open-hearted (accepting others as they are, regardless of their possession or social position/helping others being in trouble..) // standing up fearless and uncorruptable for your position // respecting nature .

    What’s the relationship between “healthy ” and “praiseworthy “..?
    If praiseworthy is used in the sense of “highly estimated by others” then there is not necessarily a direct relationship.
    How do these compare to what’s desirable in life?
    Praise or approval is an enjoyable experience, however, I believe that pursuing a healthy life ( including the health of soul) is much more beneficial.

  3. To me, an important part of “having a good character” is overcoming yourself. Always doing what you know is the right thing. That is, acting virtously in spite of bad habits, threats, bad upbringing or any other obstacles.

  4. What seems admirable virtue in a person is that they have a consistent set of values, considered by reason, which they apply without reservation or consideration of risks. In this way, I see the four virtues as complimentary, where one may seek to advance justice, and uses self-discipline to do it, along with the wisdom to realize how, and with the courage to do it despite its risks. The people that I’ve admired have always been those who have had such fortitude. I only wish I had it as well.

    As for the difference between healthy and praiseworthy, there isn’t necessarily a correlation between the two. One may take up fitness to improve one’s health far beyond that of the average person, but it will not make you a more virtuous person alone. It may train you to apply self-discipline, however, so that you can apply it to other facets of life.

    A note to the moderator, if he has time to respond to this:

    I have had particular constraint in this week’s application, virtue. Besides the immediate problem of illness, I have had trouble realizing exactly what values I wish to inculcate in myself. I have only a vague realization that I want to be a fair person, but little beyond that. I tried applying the morning meditation but I’m not sure how to apply it. About the only context I feel I’ve had any success is at work, where I’ve been able to shut out distractions and concentrate on acting on my virtues. In every other context of my life, such as my family life, I have no idea how to apply this.

    1. I have also found this exercise difficult.

      I don’t think it is meant to be a quick exercise but rather something you reflect on daily. This is what Donald states in the Values Clarification page.

      I find it difficult as there are so many exercises building up now as the weeks go on and finding time to fit them all in is hard. Alas, thinking like a stoic was never going to be an easy ride.

  5. It does really feel like the four Stoic virtues hit the nail on the head–though from my viewpoint it seems like these values must necessarily have the underlying foundation of kindness. At least from my eyes it seems that without kindness wisdom is dead intellect, justice is cruel and unusual punishment, courage is bravado and temperance is purposeless rigidity. So while the Stoic virtues are all ones I most admire, I cannot imagine a truly good person without the quality of compassion.

    The healthy vs. praiseworthy relationship is a challenging one. Since health in this discussion isn’t necessarily physical but what is “beneficial and rewarding”, it seems that there are praiseworthy activities that risk the possibility of any benefit or reward: namely heroic acts where one’s life is put at stake. Otherwise it seems that they go hand in hand. If what is healthy is what is good for us, how can doing a beneficial thing not be admirable?

    What we desire might not really align with what is healthy: I might really want some ice cream right now, but what’s better for me is exercising self-control and moderation. If I can choose to pursue goals I know improve my character, then I can shape my desires over time.

  6. To be wise and just/fair seem to be hallmarks of the admirable person. These can be contrasted with the person who is foolish and selfish. The hoarder, the grasper after wealth and fame are revered in America at this time. It is a shame that the media and entertainment repeat these images ad nauseum. The Stoics and history tell us that wealth and fame are transient and fade away all too soon. Wealth is neither wise nor fair, a recent study indicated that five thousand live in poverty for each millionaire. Now that humanity is truly global, is this fair or wise? The justice of temperance seems also to apply here. No one needs more that a certain share of material goods to live or even live well. Why take more? That is a kind of sickness in some cultures.
    So also to be whole and healthy is better than to be praised by others. Praise means an external, which is not in my power, is invoked. I can acknowledge it, but it is all to risky to seek it. Oh yes, as I child I sought the praise of parents and teachers. In work I sought as much as I could to conform to company policies and therefore praise and promotion. But I did have a reserve clause on this, I would work only up to the point my own values were in harmony with the goals of the job. Yes, I worked for others and understood the limitations on my freedom to shape the environment. Though I did always have some freedom to act with integrity. I have also resigned from many jobs when my own values and inner harmony was threatened. By living simply and within my means I had much more freedom than others who were extravegant or in debt. Sometimes I might let the boss know I had a difference of conscience, sometimes I would say I needed to tend to my health. Usually both were true, because it is unhealthy to work or associate with others whose values contradict ones own.

  7. Week two is almost over. Practising tally exercise, counting angry emotions really helps. I downloaded app. from google to my phone, calls counter. I wanted to count how many times i worry, complaining and have angry thoughts. On angry thoughts it went down from 30 to 15-20 in 5 days. As soon as you you catch yourself being angry and click counter, the anger start dissolving. Listening to the meditation instruction is helpful too.I have been doing it for the past 4 month though. The only thing is i keep felling to sleep right in the middle.

  8. For Q1 I would start by saying a person needs to understand that justice cannot be applied to all equally because everyone has different needs and requirements (different forms of justice) or at know that ones personal justice is different from other people. Also a person should not be consumed with the way other people act in comparison to their own moral values. One must be open to challenges to their own beliefs and adjust them when found in err. Lastly a person must know that they have very little control of the outside world and what they can have control of should be handled with care.

    The biggest character flaw that I witness is where a person acts in a way to bend the world around them and never truly engages other people in a genuine fashion.

  9. I have always felt that truth — and the ability to live with it — lay beneath what most people consider the virtues. Without valuing truth and being willing to persue it above most everything else, I am only left with my perceptions. And perceptions can be fooled. By testing my perceptions in the external world I arrive at truth, whether good or bad. And the discovery of what makes some of my perceptions good and others bad helps me to flourish better in the world around and live a less stressful life because I have aligned myself more closely with how the world, or universe, actually works and how best I function within it.

  10. “How else might you help yourself to live each day more consistently in accord with your conception of virtue? ”
    I value putting others first, so before posting this, I read 10 other people’s comments and tried to absorb what they wrote. I think some strayed from Stoic teachings, however all 10 were worth reading and I would encourage others to do the same.