There was a time when being modestly reserved was seen as a virtue. The restraint of the reticent person was admired. But that is no longer true. In our star-crazed culture of advertising and entertainment, those who aren’t “outgoing” are pitied.
Whatever work a person is responsible for doing (and I’m not just talking about one’s paid job or occupation), that work will be done better if he or she is fit for it. So we need to do everything in our power to make ourselves more fit for our work.
If our own lives are to be what they ought to be, we must be willing to have the truth presented to us even by unfriendly messengers. Receiving counsel should mean more than simply listening to likable people who tell us what we want to hear.
Without “ability,” we’re not “able” to make any kind of worthy contribution. We’re each endowed with natural talents that can be turned into ability, so ability is within our reach. The challenge is to identify our abilities and develop them.
Pleasantness is an enormous gift to those around us. Our pleasantness must never be flippant or an insult to what others are suffering, but wisely applied, it is nearly miraculous. By something as simple as a smile, we can give hope and healing.
Love has to be governed. The question is, what are the boundaries of love? How must that love be balanced with my concern for what is right and good and honorable? That’s always what temperance comes down to: submitting love to virtuous discipline.
A familiar adage says, “Still waters run deep.” Words and deeds are fine, and even necessary. But let’s not become so wordy and so busy that we lose our balance. The good life consists not only of fruitful activity but also of nourishing stillness.
We may do great deeds and witness extraordinary events, but if we’ve not had the sensibility to enjoy them (tasting them with full awareness), we’ve lost much of life. So let’s not allow life to simply wash over us. Let’s be deeply “sensible” to it.
Good conversation is challenging because it requires us to balance so many elements. It should be “pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood” (Shakespeare).
We should be concerned about the significance of others. We never do a finer thing than when we help another human being see why they matter. Indeed, to the extent we focus on encouraging others, our own significance tends to take care of itself.