WoW 097: On the value of virtue, Meaningful Action, part 4 [Words of Wisdom]

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WoW 097: On the value of virtue, meaningful action, part 4


This episode is part 4 in a series I'm calling Meaningful Action.

Part 1: On practicing awareness in the journey towards goodness

Part 2: On who are you becoming?

Part 3: On wise heroes

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Last week we talked about seeking out ​Wise Heroes​, those people who have the depth of character you respect and admire.

The classic way of speaking of someone's depth of character is how virtuous they are.

​Virtues​ offer you a set of directions for which way to move.

Virtues are interconnected and consistent characteristic traits that are ways of being as good as possible, given a specific context.

The greater the influence you want, the more virtue you should pursue.

If you want to lead others, prioritize growing in character.

The depth of your character, or your virtue, will determine the quality of your life.

When you are facing uncertainty, choose the highest virtue possible.

You could call it having a virtue-first approach to life.

The best decisions lead to the most meaningful action.

The most meaningful action, chosen consistently, will lead to creating the most of what is good, true, and beautiful in the world.

You can think of meaningful action as more durable than less meaningful action. Living out of the highest virtues leads to the longest-lasting legacy.

Eating ice cream leads to short-term enjoyment. That's fine when it's rarely done. Consistently eating ice cream is another matter. Initially, the consequences are minor and not so easily perceived. An upset stomach, perhaps. Consistently eating ice cream leads to fragility and all sorts of other problems—obesity, for one. There are many downstream costs to consistently compromising your values.

But saying no regularly to the literal and the proverbial ice cream isn't enough.

You must have other, more virtuous habits. Replace the bad with the good. Eat vegetables, for example.

But merely occasionally eating broccoli doesn't do much good either.

When you learn to eat broccoli consistently, you see its benefits, but only after a considerable time. Over time you can come to enjoy broccoli. This ensures you eat more of it. A potent way to enjoy eating broccoli is to find Wise Heroes who are the type of people who enjoy broccoli. Spend time with them. Be open-minded and learn from them. Let yourself be influenced by their values and ways of thinking. Wise Heroes like to share their experiences with other curious and intentional learners.

Of course, I'm not just talking about ice cream and broccoli.

Ice cream is whatever promises quick comfort at the cost of your values.

Broccoli is whatever promises long-term value at the cost of your comfort.

Choose meaningful discomfort today. It's the only path to peace.


"The beginning of worth-while living is thus the confrontation with ourselves."

Harry Emerson Fosdick, ​On Being a Real Person​

"Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God."

Max Ehrmann, ​The Desiderata of Happiness​


What choices can you make today that will create the most value and help that value last the longest? What is one thing you can do for 10 minutes that will grow your courage, self-control, purity, or insight? Can you do it every day?

(Use these questions as a journal prompt and prayers this week)


Pay close attention to your thoughts, motives, and the meaning you make; they are the seeds of the fruit of the quality and the virtue in your life. Your own virtue is the most valuable end you can pursue. Virtue best grows through worship.

Live wisely,


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