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13 Life Changing Principles From Benjamin Franklin

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How do you decide what’s important to you on a day to day basis? How do you decide what principles to stand by and what moral code to uphold?

Today we are constantly bombarded by news and social media messages from all around the world. This 24-hour news cycle has changed the way we absorb information, and it has shifted the way we identify reliable content. In fact, it has even changed the way that we think about what is important and how we envision success.

If you’re like me, you find it difficult to cut through the noise and develop a clear understanding of what is truly important to you. The challenge of cutting through the noise has led me to go back in time to explore the writings of some of the leading thinkers and professionals of the past.

Here are Benjamin Franklin’s 13 principles he believed led to success:

1. Temperance

Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation. Temperance is not a trait that comes easily to many people. We live in a world driven by consumerism and excess, and we are constantly being sold on bottomless brunches or all you can eat buffets. Still, there is a growing movement of temperance and minimalism, especially among young people. The growth of this movement is something to watch out for moving forward.

2. Silence

Speak not what may benefit others or yourself, and avoid trifling conversation. We live in an age of connectivity and “always on” engagement. Too often we’re caught up reading our Facebook News Feed and updating people on our every thought and action. Interestingly, we are seeing a push away from this hyper connectivity towards “digital detoxes” and the growing popularity of silent retreats.

3. Order

Let all your things have their places. With more information comes a greater need for order. If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he would be blown away by the number of organisations, apps, and programs available to people looking to streamline their lives.

4. Resolution

Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve. Goal setting is a top priority for most millennials and young people, yet people still struggle to follow through on their resolutions. Once you make a decision about something you want to accomplish, try your best to stick to it by setting out a definite plan for accomplishing it.

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” – Benjamin Franklin

5. Frugality

Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself. For example, waste nothing. Frugality isn’t sexy, but it is seductively addictive. While most people would prefer to live a life of luxury and drive luxury sports cars all day, the skill required to live frugally and within your means translates into an amazing strength of will and character.

Plus, it can actually be fun. Living within (or below) your means during good times is one way to ensure that you can survive when times are tough. There are a number of resources available online that provide advice on how to save money on everything from rent to food to transportation and leisure travel.

6. Industry

Lose no time. Always be employed in something useful, and cut off all unnecessary actions. Being busy for the sake of business is not helpful. Rather, being productive by doing only that which is useful to you or someone else is key to success. Always be looking for ways to cut out unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity

Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly, and if you speak, speak accordingly. Being truthful and sincere in your thoughts, words, and deeds is one of the best ways to achieve happiness and develop stronger relationships with those around you. While you may look for ways to avoid telling the truth because it might be hurtful or damaging, consider what affect it will have on you if you constantly have to hide how you truly feel.

8. Justice

Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty. Effectively, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t be rude.

9. Moderation

Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much you think they deserve. Avoid becoming overly obsessive about any one thing or idea. Live a life of balance and moderation and you will be much better at making challenging decisions.

“Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” – Benjamin Franklin

10. Cleanliness

Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation. Pretty straight forward, don’t be a slob.

11. Tranquillity

Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. Try your best, then don’t worry, be happy. If you aren’t able to accomplish a goal but you’ve still tried your very best, there is no use worrying.

12. Chastity

Rarely use venery (sex) but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. While this may seem like a rather antiquated principle, the power of chastity is not to be underestimated. There is a growing population of people who are self-diagnosed sex addicts or porn addicts. Addiction to pornography and sex can affect productivity and the ability to focus on long term goals.

13. Humility

Imitate Jesus and Socrates. Again, while this may seem rather dated, there is much to be said for emulating the lives of those who have lived simple and influential lives. Clearly, some of these virtues are more relevant than others, but most of the principles mentioned represent areas of personal development that nearly everyone on earth struggles with in one way or another.

Benjamin Franklin suggests that in order to develop yourself properly, you should focus on improving one quality at a time rather than trying to tackle all thirteen points at once. It is with this in mind that I urge you to take a look at your own habits and areas of interest and to choose one principle to focus on improving over the next week.

Which one of these habits will you implement first into your life and why? Comment below!

McVal is the founder of We Write For Growth, a platform for businesses to connect with talented writers and researchers and growth hackers. He is also the author of How to Make $2,000 a Month Online and Start Up your Life: Why we don’t know what we want, and how to set goals that really matter. McVal writes about motivation, decision making, and strategic thinking. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2011 with a degree in Spanish, and has since worked as a market researcher and business consultant in Washington D.C., New York City and London. You can reach him on Twitter @mcval or on IG @mcvaliant. 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lawrence

    Feb 1, 2018 at 3:35 am

    Hello McVal,

    Living by these principles will live to a happier, more productive life. I know this because I have at one point in time applied one or more of these principles to my life. I have seen the difference in the quality of my life when I live by principles and when I don’t. While I agree with all of the principles here stated by Benjamin, I think discipline should also be here for a disciplined mind can truly adhere to the principles stated here.

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Life

How to Write a Personal Destiny Statement in 3 Steps

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We all have a God-given destiny to fulfill that we were each born with. I personally believe it is buried deep down within us. The number one secret to success is to let it emerge out of you and release it to the world. What is my destiny you may ask? It is the thing you would regret not doing before leaving Planet Earth. (more…)

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Don’t Want To Feel Like A Failure Anymore? Stop Doing These 6 Things

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It’s pretty annoying isn’t it? All those great and accomplished people telling you that FAILURE is a necessity on your way to success. Yeah, that’s easy for them to say; they’re already ‘on the other side’! You on the other hand, are still struggling all day everyday to get your business lifted off the ground and are really not that sure if you’re indeed going to make it.

There’s that little voice in your head that keeps telling you that you don’t have the stuff to make it all happen. Not now and not ever. You feel like a failure…it’s holding you back and you don’t know how to deal with it. Well you could do yourself a favor and start dealing with it by doing the following things:

1. Stop Denying You Feel Like A Failure

Telling yourself things are going great when they’re not is one of the biggest, though most useless, coping mechanisms human beings deploy in rough times. Common denial signals among entrepreneurs: trying to regain more control by working even more hours and on the other side compensating this by letting go of all this control by partying and drinking way too hard.

What you’re doing is denying yourself the opportunity to actually feel what’s going on and acknowledge the problem; that both you and your business are in a bad place. Without acknowledging it, it’ll be pretty difficult to actually STOP feeling it. And remember, just because you feel like a failure, this does not mean that you indeed ARE a failure!

2. Stop Making It Bigger Than it Really Is

This is one of those other ‘fun’ things human beings do; we blow things way out of proportion in our heads! In business, when you lose that big client you’ve been working on for weeks, it feels like it’s the end of the world. You start doubting yourself, your strategy, your entire business model right up to the point where you barely sleep because you’re working on pivoting the whole thing.

But what if that customer simply didn’t have the money to go for your service anyway? Or what if they just decided to go for someone who is cheaper but who offers less quality? Does that mean there’s something wrong with YOU? Or that this was the ONLY customer out there and that you’re now doomed forever?

Of course not, it simply means that THIS CUSTOMER wasn’t a match. It’s a bit like dating actually…So if you take this into consideration, could it be that you just feel like a failure instead of really not succeeding in that what you want to at this point in time?

3. Stop Thinking You’re The Only One Who Feels Like This

You’re not! With the possible exception of the true sociopaths, that feeling you’re feeling is very normal to EVERYONE. It might not seem like it on the outside – because people don’t like to acknowledge this remember – but I can guarantee you that it’s true. But unlike 99% of the world’s population, YOU’RE not going to let this feeling stop you in your tracks. Are you?

4. Stop Thinking You’re Supposed To Be Superhuman

In fact, it’s very likely that you’re already doing, learning and succeeding at WAY more than most other people are. But for entrepreneurs, somehow, that never seems to be enough. You don’t just want to be successful after a few years of hard work (which is normal). You want to be successful after only a few months. Because you’re special…or at least you think you are…

Well, here’s the truth: you ARE special! But…it’s just not very likely that you’re one of those – very very rare – entrepreneurial superstars that – seemingly – just added some hot water and got instant business success as a result.

5. Stop Being So Incredibly Stubborn

Entrepreneurs are stubborn…almost by default. It’s what makes them push forward in the hardest of times. But…if you’re not doing the right things right you might just be hammering a square peg through a round hole. Which will only add to that frustrated feeling you’re already having. So why not stop being so stubborn for a moment, stop hammering away on that what obviously is not working and ask for help?

No matter who you ask – a business mentor or coach, a befriended entrepreneur – someone with a neutral perspective on you and our business will be very likely to see what’s going on with a lot more clarity than you can and can guide you to a place that will feel a whole lot more comfortable.

6. Stop Being Afraid Of Failure

I know, I know, you’ve heard this a million times before and you wouldn’t be in this pickle if you could do this. Right? I’m right there with ya!

But, if you get really rational about it, what’s the worst that could happen?

  • You might have to get a ‘real’ job for a while and start over on the side;
  • You might not be able to afford your rent anymore…but with Airbnb on the 1 hand and couchsurfing on the other, you should be able to work it out somehow;
  • You’ll have all the more experience to start over a whole lot faster;
  • You’ll be no less respected by anyone because it’s clear you gave it your all;
  • In a few years, when you’re an established and supersuccessful entrepreneur you’ll also have a cool failure story to tell;
  • None of your limbs will fall off;

Now that’s not too bad for a plan B is it? Failure is such a negative word. And the associated feeling is terrible and numbing. But really…how is giving it your all and not succeeding really the same as failing? Shouldn’t the definition of failure not be along the lines of ‘not even trying’ or ‘giving up when it gets hard’?

In other words: stop beating yourself up over this!

There’s really no need to feel like a failure at all because you’re sticking your neck out, you’re trying to make a difference and you’re still moving upward on that treacherous entrepreneurial mountain.

And that…is what success REALLY is.

Those Who Failed Their Way To Success

Quotes To Live By:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” – Richard Yates

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

“Success is stumbling form failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

“Don’t let success go to your head and failure to your heart” – Will Smith

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Life

Why You Never Have Enough Time and What You Need to Do About It

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Has this ever happened to you? You had an assignment, and the deadline was far away. You didn’t work on it much, but in the back of your mind, that insistent little voice was always whispering, “I gotta get this assignment done.” (more…)

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6 Unusual Exercises to Effectively Increase Your Creativity Faster Than Ever

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Although a vast majority of people think that creativity is something you are born with, the truth is a bit different. While we cannot deny that you need natural talent to a certain extent, stimulating creative thinking is indeed a matter of practice. If you give this thought a bit of thinking, you can realize pretty quickly that even the most fascinating and creative minds have faced the lack of creativity at some point in their lives. (more…)

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