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The Eightfold Path of Good Character

“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” ~Frank Outlaw

A robust character hinges on eight core virtues: courage, curiosity, temperance, humility, liberty, honor, wisdom, and humor. These virtues are vital rungs on the ladder toward achieving wholeness in character.

Courage frees character, curiosity grows character, temperance balances character, humility grounds character, liberty stabilizes character, honor unifies character, wisdom guides character, and humor overcomes character. Let’s break it down.

1.) Courage:

“Without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” ~Maya Angelou

Courage is the bedrock of human excellence. Before any other virtue can be realized, courage must be self-actualized. There must first come a courageous deviation or there is no “first.” Period. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you live a courage-based lifestyle over a comfort-based lifestyle.

Without the initial leap of courage there is no freedom, no excellence. Without courage, one is merely restricted to the conventional, inhibited by the whims of others, imprisoned inside the box of the status quo, and hampered by outdated reasoning. Without courage, the third eye remains calcified, rigid, blind.

With the leap of courage, however, one is emancipated. The world unlocks. The mind unbolts. The soul unfastens. Inhibitions dissolve, and serendipity, adaptability, and improvisation manifest. Boundaries transform into horizons. Comfort zones stretch into adventure. You split the smoke. You shatter the mirrors. And the glory of the path is revealed.

2.) Curiosity:

“If you are not living in awe, you are not paying attention.” ~Rumi

Curiosity is essential. It is the fuel that launches us beyond faith. It is the cure for the disease of certainty.

True curiosity is deep, primal, absorbing, imaginative and ravenous for updated knowledge that has the potential to put outdated knowledge to rest.

Curiosity is the ultimate existential leveling mechanism. It forces our thoughts outside the box, stretches our comfort zone, shatters entrenched mental paradigms, keeps us ahead of the curve, and pushes the envelope of all the things we’ve taken for granted.

Curiosity is on the edge of tomorrow, laughing into the abyss, shirking the tiny-minded perspective of our parochial past, and gaping in astonishment and wild wonder into the mysterium tremendum et fascinans of the Great Mystery.

3.) Temperance:

“The best amount of property to have is that which is enough to keep us from poverty, and which yet is not far removed from it.” ~Seneca

Luckily, health is a benchmark for temperance. It’s the core of universal law. Unluckily, this benchmark is hidden in a ‘language older than words,’ which can sometimes seem impossible to decode. Moderation is Health’s secret decoder ring.

Although some things must be moderated more than others, extremism in anything is the bane of health. We can breathe too much oxygen. We can drink too much water. We can even live too much in the moment. Through moderation we discover health. And through health we are free to practice temperance. We maintain our personal health through moderation so that health in general can manifest. As Gandhi wisely suggested, “Live simply so that others may simply live.”

A good rule of thumb, then, is this: moderation in all things, to include moderation. This way we are proactively injecting balance into the cosmos, while at the same time enjoying life. The key is to accept responsibility for the consequences of both our moderate and immoderate choices. Tricky, but that’s where humility comes into play.

4.) Humility:

“After the ecstasy, the laundry.” ~Jack Kornfield

Research suggests that a healthy dose of humility helps protect against extremism, polarization, and bias. When we are humble, we can admit that we are fallible, imperfect, and uncertain. It gives us the courage to admit when we are wrong.

Without humility we are more likely to fall victim to cognitive dissonance. Without humility we are blinded by faith and stuck in hand-me-down ideologies and outdated traditions. Without humility we are more likely to be clouded by pride. Without humility self-pity outmaneuvers self-empowerment and the Ego reigns supreme as it edges out Soul.