The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin

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In The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, how does Franklin describe the methods by which a person might live a moral life and attain wealth?

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Benjamin Franklin's autobiography details his "Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection" and lists thirteen main virtues he intends (and encourages others) to emulate: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

He explains that he placed these virtues in this specific order because they build from each other; he can work on developing each one after mastering its precursor. As for his methodology, Franklin attempts to build habits rooted in each of these virtues by creating a chart that allows him to track his adherence to his plan on a daily basis. Teachers who are fans of "S.M.A.R.T" ("specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound") goals would be proud—this extra step allows Franklin to measure his progress toward the goal of living life in alignment with his values.

Franklin, an incorrigible advice-giver, also offers his readership tips on wealth-building throughout his serial publication Poor Richard's Almanack. He preaches the values of hard work and frugal living, coining adages that live on today, such as "there are no gains, without pains" and "eat to live, not live to eat."

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