Everyone has heard of virtues and most of us have some understanding of what virtues are. It’s easy to see the value in improving how we live in virtue, the problem is it can be hard to know where to start.
The easiest way to get started is to pick one virtue that you want to improve on and set a goal to improve your behavior in that virtue over a period of time. Our Living with Character series offers videos, personality assessments and workbooks to help you get started in 15 different virtues, however there are many more virtues to choose from! Below is a more complete list of the 40 virtues, and many philosophers have added even more to the list.
Remember virtues are good habits developed out of love for others. When you begin growing in one virtue, you'll end up growing in many of them simultaneously!
Orderliness: achieving our goals by doing the things we should do, when we should do them, and how we should do them. This is also involved with keeping oneself physically clean and neat and one’s belongings in good order.
Generosity: the attitude and habits we demonstrate when we give towards the needs of others in a willing and cheerful manner.
Fortitude: the courage to stand up for what is right, even in the face of pressure.
Prudence: the virtue that allows us to determine what’s right and what’s wrong and then act accordingly. Prudence could also be called wisdom.
Justice: giving to others what they are rightly due.
Temperance: controlling our desires and wants in order to achieve a greater good and meet our life goals. Temperance could also be called self-control.
Assertiveness: achieving goals by setting appropriate boundaries, asking for help when we need it, and being confident and positive about our abilities.
Purposefulness: having a vision, clear focus, and concentration on goals.
Modesty: purity of heart in action, especially in regards to dress and speech.
Peacefulness: having a sense of inner calm, no matter what is happening around you.
Service: being helpful to the entire family of man. This can also be called beneficence, which means helping the greater community for the common good.
Clemency: handling disobedience, poor choices, and disputes in a reasonable and consistent manner by not being too strict, but not being too lax either.
Helpfulness: being of service to others; doing thoughtful things that make a difference in their lives.
Kindness: expressing genuine concern about the well-being of others; anticipating their needs.
Good Counsel: seeking advice from a reasonable person.
Responsibility: fulfilling one’s just duties; accepting the consequences of one’s words and actions, intentional and unintentional.
Honesty: sincerity, openness, and truthfulness in one’s works and actions.
Respect: recognizing the worth and dignity of every single human person.
Tolerance: allowing other people to have their opinions about non-essential things and accepting the preferences and ideas that are different from your without compromising your own beliefs.
Perseverance: taking the steps necessary to carry out objectives in spite of difficulties.
Good judgment: thinking rightly about a decision, sound decision.
Gratitude: having a thankful disposition of mind and heart.
Humility: having an awareness that all one’s gifts come from God and appreciation for the gifts of others.
Obedience: assenting to rightful authority without hesitation or resistance.
Patience: remaining calm and not becoming annoyed when dealing with problems or difficult people. This could also mean paying attention to something for a long time without becoming bored or losing interest.
Command: directly acting upon a sound decision.
Truthfulness: acting in a way that inspires confidences and trust; being reliable.
Moderation: attention to balance in one’s life.
Loyalty: accepting the bond implicit in relationships and defending the virtues upheld by Church, family, and country.
Courtesy: treating other people with respect, recognizing that all are made in God's image and likeness.
Affability: being easy to approach and easy to talk to; friendly.
Sincerity: trustfulness in words and actions; honesty and enthusiasm toward others.
Prayerfulness: being still, listening, and being willing to talk to God as a friend.
Magnanimity: seeking with confidence to do great things in God; literally “having a large soul.”
Docility: willingness to be taught.
Industriousness: diligence, especially in work that leads to natural and supernatural maturity.
Foresight: consideration of the consequences of one's action; thinking ahead.
Patriotism: paying due honor and respect to one's country, with a willingness to serve.
Meekness: having a serenity of spirit while focusing on the needs of others.
Circumspection/Tact: careful consideration of circumstances and consequences.