Ben Franklin Circles are small groups of people coming together to discuss civic virtues as a lens into self-improvement and community betterment. Ben Franklin left us a list which is a great place to start. But what happens if your group wants to move beyond Franklin’s 13?

We invited our Ben Circle Host community to choose virtues they would add.

Here’s are the top choices: 

Empathy
Gratitude
Courage
Curiosity
Equality
Forgiveness
Compassion
Humor
Honesty
Love of Learning
Generosity
Non Violence

 

Whether you choose these virtues or add your own, the discussion format can stay the same:

  • Introduce the new virtue with a working definition or a quote
  • Discuss that virtue
  • End the meeting with a commitment to practice that virtue for a month

 

Feel free to go in order, choose your own path, or swap out virtues for others that resonate with you and your group. Consider adding a 13th virtue with input from others. Franklin added Humility only after a friend told him that it was something he needed to working. What do you think about this list? Drop us a line at benfranklincircles@gmail.com. 

 

And by the way, while researching this project, we discovered an interesting overlap with the virtues we selected and the field of positive psychology. Positive psychology researchers organize character traits and virtues into six main categories: Wisdom, Courage, Humanity, Transcendence, Justice, and Moderation.

 

For example:

  • Wisdom virtues are about acquiring and using knowledge (Curiosity & Love of Learning)
  • Courage virtues are about accomplishing goals in the face of adversity (Courage & Honesty)
  • Humanity virtues are about caring for others (Empathy, Compassion, Generosity)
  • Transcendence virtues connect us to a higher meaning (Gratitude & Humor)
  • Justice virtues build a better community (Equality & Non Violence)

 

Franklin intuitively chose some virtues from each of these categories. By practicing his 13, you can see similar themes emerging several times in one year.

 

Temperance (1) & Moderation (9) & Frugality (5)
Order (3) & Cleanliness (10)
Silence (2) & Tranquility (11)
Resolution (4) & Industry (6)
Humility (13) & Sincerity (7)
Chastity “do no harm” (12) & Justice (8)