Traditionally, virtues have been divided into two principal types: cardinal and theological, or Christian. The former being fortitude, justice, prudence and temperance; and the latter, charity, hope and faith. Virtue, which we define as “a consistent inclination towards voluntarily accomplishing moral excellence;” can be found as well in many other actions which are the fruit of a highly refined disposition. The ones I’ve selected here are other virtues which can be considered as fundamental in the pursuit of a more evolved, purer self.

Seeing this as almost an investment in someone, something, a dream, a goal, can soften the heavy burden it often carries. Susceptible at times to allusions of indifference or inaction; patience is our inner and outer capacity to bear it out, sustain if you will, till the desired result shows itself. People are the ultimate testers of this virtue, and our multifarious, distinct temperments, the most difficult obstacles to its implementation. One of the qualities that seems to need every other one available to fulfill its potential, patience could be called the “sponge virtue.”

If you say something, mean it and do it. A tricky virtue in our times because so much interaction in our society thrives on the concept of gaining the control in and over various situations. When sincerity is a rare commodity, we learn to disregard people’s actions and words simply out of habit and fear of being either deceived, let down, or led astray. But when applied truthfully and with integrity, this virtue can accomplish amazing results simply because of the confidence it instills in its beneficiaries. When you can truly count on someone, you gain strength knowing you’re not alone, even if it’s only in thought!

It’s very easy to find ourselves in situations where we feel superior to those around us; but interestingly enough, we can also find, without too much trouble, situations where we are equally vulnerable. Such is the human experience, and we can’t all excel at everything we do. The secret, I suppose, is to maintain a sort of equilibrium that permits us to remember, no matter how high we may soar, that we cannot subsist alone, that each element in our lives is contributed through the collective efforts of many diverse and specialized people. As a whole, they are giving us the the tools that permit us to gather steam in our own little worlds. Take one spoke out of that wheel and it won’t roll quite the same.

One of the key fibers to building a strong moral character, fidelity relies upon many of these other virtues to be successful. A lasting bond between two human beings is unparalleled in its richness, and yet this one is one of the most abused of all. Working hand in hand with sincerity, patience and vigilance, this special brand of loyalty allows us to grow and evolve within a certain framework, by building upon pre-existing feelings and experiences and using them as catalysts for new discoveries that would otherwise be unattainable. And for those who crave exclusivity, nothing else delivers the goods quite like fidelity!

Every once in a while, you hear someone say in a derogatory manner, “You’re like a child” or some variation thereof. And yet, the pure, inner joy a child experiences is one of the human beings’ most sought after virtues as we grow older. Often confused with being “naive” or “innocent;” joyfulness is more like a perpetual sun that warms us from inside and permeates even the most unpleasant situations. Naturally, this ability to stay “happy” regardless of the circumstances can appear to stem from oblivion to one’s environment or something similar, but it is in fact simply the sheer power of that individual’s inner positivity shining through.

If it were true for all men that the fear of something is always worse than that something itself, we’d likely all be surrounded by brave and courageous individuals. I have found, almost without exception, that the mind can wreak more havoc than any dose of reality, and consequently, I try to confront things almost as quickly as my mind gets around them. Isn’t it fascinating, though, how we can motivate ourselves to do almost anything when it becomes clear that we are choosing between the lesser of two evils!

At the root of everything and anything, initiative is what separates action from intention. Many say that the first step is the toughest, that getting started is half the battle. With initiative, you put yourself in a position where you have something to build upon, regardless of the direction it may ultimately take. It becomes a point of reference where there may previously have been none. A map to follow or stray from. And the true beauty: you always have something new to show for your efforts.

Our ability to bounce back from adversity is often the determining factor in our eventual outcome. Things that come easily or quickly are not always the truest or best suited to our paths. If this virtue is a “test” of sorts, it would be fitting that it is one of the hardest to master. Because in its very essence, it implies that something has to go wrong for it to take effect, and thus, finds us each and every time in an already weakened state. Whether physical or mental, resilience gives us a new layer of immunity with which to carry on.

If for no other reason than to rid ourselves of the stored-up negativity; this virtue is indispensable to our evolutions into more spiritual beings. When we do not forgive, we hold on to the pain and hurt caused by the person or situation, and it festers, chaining us to its unpleasant memories, while taking up space needed for other more affirmative feelings. Forgiveness does not grant outright absolution for sins. It enables us to make peace with the past, crush resentments and move forward while showing others we can rise above trying circumstances. And of course, sooner or later, we’ll be needing some ourselves!

Gazing outward with the sole purpose of pleasing others is a unique experience. Not only does it make us naturally popular, it often allows our own quandries to fade in the larger context. As with all virtues, what at first might appear to be a unidirectional effort is anything but. Putting “self” aside allows a broader view, as events (especially the trivial ones) are placed into the collective space that shapes all our lives, leaving us with a more real sense of the true order of things.

Derived from “vigil” which means “watching, keeping awake for a ceremony” this is one of my favorites because I love the idea of pushing the envelope. Different from patience in that this virtue requires a more hands on and perhaps less orthodox approach, vigilance or “nurturing” is like a steady dose of mental vitamins which keep the subject in a receptive and procreative state. It embodies perseverance, drive and many feminine and motherly qualities such as going way beyond the call of duty. It is also one of the most draining virtues as it requires an abundance of physical energy and a clear, alert mind.

The special ability to make proper use of knowledge. Funny, we spend so much time acquiring this knowledge that we often forget our responsibility in distributing it. Usually associated with a more advanced age, wisdom can be as simple as helping a friend make their life a bit easier or using our own experiences to avoid future dilemmas. And although no two people have learned the exact same facts, seen the same sunsets or accumulated the same quan-tity of knowledge, we are all able to act equally wisely.

Although surely manifested differently for each of us, I think it’s safe to say that this would be the time when we’re calmest, most peaceful and in our purest state of being. A time when the events of our life seem to mesh together in a perfect harmony, when the spirit within feels a deep satisfaction and the physical body ceases to make demands. Of course, these feelings are too often “fleeting glimpses,” and therefore simply a transient preview of what can be. True serenity should be somewhat more accessible and within our control.


©2001 Nurtured Spontaneity Publishing