Monday, December 23, 2013

Virtue ("as constitutive of happiness")

Self-discipline, a sense of justice, honesty, fairness, chivalry, moderation, public spirit, respect for human dignity, firm ethical norms, all of these are things which people must possess before they go to market and compete with each other. These are the indispensable supports which preserve both market and competition from degeneration. Family, church, genuine communities, and tradition are their sources. ~ Wilhelm Ropke, A Human Economy 1957

According to Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, "... it is characteristic of the age in which we live to see the moral life as a matter of following rules or dictated principles. Whether discoverable by reason or laid down by God, these rules are what we must teach our children and what we ourselves must follow."

Ancient writers seldom referred to rules or principles. For them the moral life was not a matter of what you do but of what you are. The fundamental notion was not duty but virtue (Latin virtus, Greek arete'), and the task of the moralist was to describe the virtues that we should emulate and teach our children. This is how Socrates, Plato and--pre-eminently--Aristotle conceived the moral life. The Romans followed the same path, and it is interesting to note that the words of Cicero and Quintilian closely correspond to thoughts uttered some centuries earlier in China by the great sage Confucius. Like Confucious, the Greeks and Romans attempted to find a basis for moral conduct in human nature. And like Confucious, they-believed that the core idea is virtue.

"Every day, think as you wake up, "Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive, I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can." ~ His Holiness The Dalai Lama

In other words, seek first to fulfill the full time position of being your own best counselor on what you need to do in your life on a daily basis and then practice that as though it matters. Because in truth, it does. "Help yourself, because you're the best person for the job!" ~ Bertrand Russell

"Aristotle saw virtue as constitutive of happiness."
"Happiness, Aristotle made clear, is not composed of fleeting sensations available equally to selfless and selfish people. It involves a settled contentment with one's lot, with oneself and with others. It is not an experience but a condition, in which we flourish according to our nature, as a tree flourishes in healthy soil, or a fish in pure water."
"We can achieve this condition, Aristotle argued, only through the virtues. We teach our children to be courageous, wise, just and temperate because we know that this will make them respected by their fellows, secure in their decisions, and able to take full responsibility for their lives. That is the way to happiness. It is also the way in which the individual serves the community: the happiness of the individual and the prosperity of the community are both achieved through virtue." ~ Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, Spiritual Enterprise, 2008

With the hope of providing valuable assistance, I have created a handy resource for attempting to positively optimize your potential and performance.  I call it,  "A Model for Living An Examined Life." It is a broad-based adaptive framework for the personal practice of balanced living across the lifespan regardless of age, belief, faith, gender, disability, ethnicity, race, religion, no religion, or sexual orientation. It consists of the following distinct processes:

Self-regulation processes:
  • Goal-setting (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time targeted (S.M.A.R.T.) objectives)
  • Self-observation (self-instruction, imagery and attention focusing, task strategies)
  • Self-evaluation (self-questioning, causal attributions, and adaptive inferences)
Task strategies:
  • Study (graphic organizers, index cards, tables, and attending extra help)
  • Time-management (planning, allocating, setting goals, delegation, analysis of time spent, monitoring, organizing, scheduling, and prioritizing)
  • Organizational strategies (cognitive modeling, cognitive coaching, and guided practice)
Self-motivational beliefs:
  • Self-efficacy (choice of activities, effort, and persistence)
  • Intrinsic interest (active, curious, engaged)
  • Desire to be effective (competence, mastery, and self-monitoring)
Academic behaviors and beliefs:
  • Forethought  (attitudes, beliefs, and processes)
  • Performance control (mindful, confident, and proactive)
  • Self-reflection (self-judgments and self-reactions)
 Reasons for living:
  • Meaning (psychological, social, and cultural)
  • Identity (moral, ethical, and spiritual)
  • Spirituality (belief, faith, and religion)
Leading with heart and soul:
  • Institutional change (environmentally responsible, innovative, and sustainability-driven)
  • Social change (democratic, culturally diverse, and egalitarian)
  • Personal transformation (authentic, genuine, and nurturing)
Wisdom leadership
  • Keen discernment (grasp, comprehend, and evaluate clearly)
  • Deep understanding (concept, context, and pragmatics)
  • Sound judgment (a basis for decision making, a call to action, and creativety)

Jon Dunnemann