Recently, I discovered a book about the art of virtuous living. The book is a compilation of excerpts from Benjamin Franklin's journals. The following is Franklin's first formula for successful living:
"If our desires are to the things of this world," wrote Franklin, "they are never to be satisfied."
and appearance are among those whistles (possessions) in life
which cannot satisfy, and for which many people pay too much.
Happiness is so common a desire that all the world is in pursuit of it;
but, since the happiness of man lies in correct action, and correct action flows only from correct opinion (thinking), many never fully experience the happiness that could be theirs if they were more careful of their opinions (thoughts).
To be happy,
it is necessary to possess an indifference to things of this world,
to be willing to submit to the will of Providence (God), and to have a well-grounded expectation of life hereafter.
To be happy,
it is necessary to learn how to govern one's passions and appetites,
to be just in one's dealings with others,
to be temperate in one's pleasures,
to support oneself with fortitude in difficulties, and to be prudent in one's affairs.
Because those things external to man
have little to do with happiness, Franklin believed that happiness
can only be found in a virtuous and self-approving conduct.
And because, in old age the only solid satisfaction
is the reflection of a long life spent in meaning well,
Franklin believed that, in this life, the only constant and durable source of happiness,
is in acts of humanity,
The Art of Virtue: His Formula for Successful Living
Benjamin Franklin, pp. 36-37
Edited by George L. Rogers