The Good Life: Lessons from Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues

Ben's booklet w/ 13 Virtues
Ben’s booklet w/ 13 Virtues

Too lazy, don’t want to read: download my 2-page PDF guide to Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues.

This is my second Good Life guide. Read the first one here (on Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life). If you’re curious why I’m doing this, the first one will help.

From these books, I’ll share insights, conclusions, and questions from history’s greatest thinkers and doers on finding purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. My goal is to provide some answers, and probably more questions, to living what Aristotle calls “eudemonia”, or simply, “the good life”.

It’s a 2-page PDF, free to download and share. Here’s the link to view it as a read-only Google Doc.

I’ve embedded a section below. As this is my second Good Life guide, I humbly ask for any and all feedback, advice, thoughts. I plan to write a LOT of these – I need your help to make them the best resources they can be.

Thanks and enjoy!


Franklin always carried a booklet with these 13 virtues. Each time he disobeyed a virtue, he’d mark it in his booklet. Since he focused on one virtue per week, he’d complete 4 cycles each year (13 virtues, 52 weeks). Here’s my (loose) interpretation of his virtues:

1. Temperance. Don’t overeat or overdrink
2. Silence. Speak only when you have something good to say
3. Order. Organize your life; pay attention to ALL aspects of your work
4. Resolution. Always do what you say you’ll do
5. Frugality. Spend little and spend wisely
6. Industry. Use your time wisely; stop doing wasteful things
7. Sincerity. Don’t lie; be honest and fair
8. Justice. Don’t harm others or ignore your obligations to them
9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; don’t hold grudges
10. Cleanliness. Regularly clean your body, your clothes, and your home
11. Tranquillity. Don’t get upset at small or unavoidable things
12. Chastity. Only have sex for health or babies, and never hurt others
13. Humility. Be super humble

Here’s a version with Ben’s original wording.

That’s it. Click here to download the full 2-page PDF!

Here’s a list of all 1-page cheatsheets, and a list of all books.

Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.