The emotional state of a person can be defined and compared on an Emotional Thriving scale (ET) of 1. Wonderful, 2. Good, 3. Okay, 4. Difficult, 5. Catastrophic. That scale was intended to be applicable to all of Ben Franklin’s basic virtues of – Happy, Healthy, Wise and Wealthy.
What are the internal factors that prompt a person to choose to move toward a happy, healthy, wise and wealthy lifestyle and away from a miserable, sick, foolish, impoverished one? The Classic Greek and Roman creators of our civilization valued what they called virtue as the prime human characteristic. “Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards. Doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. The opposite of virtue is vice.”
Virtue versus vice is a vast subject discussed by every advanced culture, and no doubt around the campfires soon after humans learned to speak, tens of thousands of years ago. The 147 pre-Socratic Greek maxims, created by the Seven Sages of Greece, and published on a stone stele at Delphi about 500 BC, point the way to a virtuous life. I feel that that document is the foundation of our Western society.
When we come to moments of decision, which is every moment of one’s life, it must come to an action completed. That action is often a thought completed, such as an agreement with oneself about how one ought to be. And the moment before that action is made there must be the thought “shall I do this or suppress doing it?”
Therein lies a problem, because when listening to a person speaking, including our self-talk, we must understand what the speaker is saying before we can think about it and disagree. If that person is stringing out many ideas rapidly which, on consideration, our sensible self would disagree with, but there is no time to think about them and to disagree with them, then we become filled with these unwanted thoughts which settle into our mind as true. That is horrible! And the only way to protect ourselves is to avoid being in situations where counterproductive nonsense is being spewed so quickly we can’t inspect it and reject it.
To move toward the wonderful life and avoid a catastrophic one we must turn our attention away from morally corrosive ideas and focus our attention on growthful values.
We must take personal responsibility for what we hear as well as what we think, say and do.