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The 4 Virtues of Stoicism


Courage - Temperance - Practical Wisdom - Justice


Utilizing the 4 Virtues are essential to living life well. Doing the right thing and ultimately being our best self will replace our bad habits with good ones. This requires practice. When done correctly we will excel in living a virtuous life.. It requires practice to become excellent in anything. Think of the moral values that you have identified as a lens to look through. They are a domestication of your emotions. Instead of feeling an emotion and immediately reacting, look through your moral lens first. This gives you time to think, to reason, before you act. This isnt always easy. Morals require constant adjusting. Some days you may be able to be more generous then others, for example. This is where the 4 virtues are helpful. All 4 virtues are tied to one another. Each one needs the other.

Temperance- Think of temperance as self discipline. When talking about the things we can control this is a big one. It helps us provide balance to our moral values. A way to find the sweet spot. Using the virtue of temperance helps us find balance for each and every situation we encounter. We all know, too much or too little of something can be a bad thing. They are vices. Too little is a vice of deficiency. Too much is a vice of excess. Stoicism sits within the framework of Greek ethical theory which was handed down from Plato and Aristotle. I find this one of Aristotles teachings to be particularly helpful with understanding temperance.


Vice of Deficiency Golden Mean Vice of Excess

Cowardice Courage Recklessness


Greedy Generous Extravagant



Self Deprecation Confidence Vanity


The golden mean is balancing the value to find the correct amount of the moral value we are aiming for. Each situation we encounter may require more or less depending on the specifics of the situation. Using temperance allows us to tailor our morals to each and every situation correctly while keeping aware to avoid our vices. With practice we can master our self discipline in our behavior and accurately apply the appropriate balance to every situation.


Courage- How well would we live without courage? We would be afraid. We wouldnt believe in ourselves, lacking confidence, running from challenges. I will name a few moral values that would be impossible to follow without courage.

Confidence - Bravery - Honesty - Integrity - Liberty - Resilience

Without courage we would not reach our goals because we could not face our fears without it. To live life well requires courage.


Justice- First get the thought of law and courts out of your head. Instead, think of it as a way to live harmoniously with other people as part of a community. Being fair in your actions. The popular phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” fits well into the virtue of justice. This is what we view as right and wrong. For example, you may be doing something courageous but it's for a bad reason. Justice guides us to do the right behaviors for the right reasons.


Practical Wisdom- Wisdom is the pursuit of truth and knowledge. If justice is knowing the difference between right and wrong, you might wonder how we determine that. How do we decide to determine something to be just or unjust? Practical Wisdom. We use the practical knowledge that we have collected in the pursuit of truth to apply it to our moral values. Courage and Temperance are meaningless without the right goal. To figure out what we are aiming at we use practical wisdom. For example, identifying our moral values required the use of practical wisdom. Taking our experiences and our knowledge from life to determine what our goals are is required to know what it is we want. To know what we want to aim at requires using the wisdom you have learned from life. Using whatever practical knowledge you have is required to make decisions and reach your goals.


All 4 virtues are tied together. They need each other to work successfully. When used correctly you can apply them to anything that life brings your way. You learn to live a life of moral excellency, living a virtuous life is a life well lived. Use these 4 virtues to modify your moral values. You will be well on your way to becoming your best self. Doing this is full of rewards. Your brain will become accustomed to it and it will become part of your character. It will be easier to see through your moral lens over time, with practice, because we are setting up good habits. There are many things in life that we cannot control, this is one of the things we can control. It is the art of living. Learn to master it and you too could be living a virtuous life full of good habits and you will also enrich the lives of those around you.


Melanie M.

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