Nobility

What makes a truly beautiful person? Most people would include a person’s values and ideals in that definition, and just like a few bad decisions can hide someone’s superficial beauty, no one is going to know how beautiful your ethic system is if you never show it off to the world. People who come across as elevated, noble people seem to have a very strong grasp on what they believe in and carry that through their daily lives.

The question is, then, how does one teach him or herself this sense of nobility? It’s a large concept and could be seen as a larger benefit from your work in the other virtues combined. This is true to some degree, but your own sense of nobility is something that is well worth your repeated self-reflection throughout your life. In fact, as you experience more and change over time you will hopefully grow and improve in this area—at the very least your flavor of this virtue will change.

There are two parts of this virtue, one is having a strong, meaningful set of values and ethics, and the other is making these ideas you have evident and valuable to others. On the most basic level, having strong morals doesn’t mean you abide by them, and perhaps less obviously, practicing strong morals doesn’t always improve the lives of others. The goal of this virtue, and hopefully one of the leading goals of your life, is to live in such a way that benefits and improves the lives of those you love, and makes your inclusion in the lives of others a blessing as often as possible. In order to accomplish this handily, you will have to frequently go back and forth on these too goals and ask yourself: "how complete and noble is my value system?" "How well do I live up to my own standards?" "How much are others (and myself) really benefiting when I practice these standards?" If you don’t question yourself and the things which you believe in, then you are in danger of blindly doing that which seems to make best sense to you while justifying the pain you cause to others or yourself.

The first part, evaluating your own personal value system, is personal enough that I don’t want to give too many specifics on how you should judge those things you believe in. I will make a few points, however. For one, it is popular to think that the ideal "do what you will, just as long as you don’t hurt anyone" is naïve and foolish. Maybe doing whatever you want is foolish, but "just don’t hurt anyone" is actually a pretty good place to start. In fact, naïve as that viewpoint may be, imagine how little we would have to complain about if everyone actually lived by that standard! Now, include yourself in part of that equation of avoiding causing others pain, and you’ll find that you’re actually well on your way to finding a good starting place for an entire ethics system. In fact, you should probably revisit this idea as you begin to add more specifics to your ideology and to what you believe one’s proper behavior should be.

My last point I would like to make is that the things which we wish to believe in don’t always necessarily make the best basis for a good or right decision. We human beings want to reaffirm our own goodness and tend to diminish our own false or improper motives from our own eyes (in our defense, I must add that we do tend to go a little crazy or depressed if we don’t do this sometimes). Do your best not to let your own need to justify your actions poison your values. It’s better to do something you don’t believe in than to praise or justify your own poor behavior.

After considering your own value system, the next step would be to judge how well you follow this system and evaluate how well it actually benefits your own life and the life of those around you. Judging how well you live your own values seems like it might be a piece of cake, but it can be more difficult than could be expected. One major problem lies in that we are our own creators of this system and it is so easy to twist or bend the rules to put our own behavior in the best light possible—or to rewrite them completely as needed. You need to permit yourself to see your own failures or you can do nothing to change them or improve upon them. The other problem lies in the fact that many of us are not practiced in self-evaluation. I constantly advocate this activity throughout this site, but it is hard to overstress the importance of building the habit of self-reflection if you want to improve upon yourself.

Judging how well your value system improves the lives around you seems like it should be easy as well—you can simply ask them about it if you’re close enough to them, right? This becomes difficult, however, when the question is mired in the complexity of our relationships and the necessity of looking out for our own good. Some people won’t open up to you on this subject, and it’s hard to draw the line on taking care of yourself and taking advantage of others. The fact is you’re never going to get this right all the time, so this is a topic you will have to revisit over and over again. If you’re not used to thinking in these terms you might need to use some tools (or get some help from others) to make better decisions in these areas. You need to think about the consequences of your actions and whether or not any harm done to them could have been avoided or whether the whole situation could have been handled in a better way.

Finally, perhaps the most important part of making the aesthetic side of nobility apparent is making your own nobility available to others. This means being reliable and, well, available to those around you. This could mean overcoming a sense of shyness, making more time for others, becoming more aware of their needs, or revaluating your ethics system so that it includes others more often—or makes your potential good more apparent in their lives. You should try to live a life so that anyone would benefit if they had a copy of your cell-phone number in their list of contacts.

Note: It is possible to live too much for other people and ignore your own needs too much. I encourage you in this article, too fervently perhaps, to look outwards since it seems that most of us need more encouragement to look this way than vice-versa. Don’t ignore your own needs and health, however, in your desire to make others happy or to be "likable".

Activities

  • Get Your Value/Ethic System Down on Paper: Writing this down forces us to put more thought into exactly what our system is. If this is something you haven’t though about much before, this might help you come up with new ideas to incorporate into your life! It will also help you notice some holes in your logic that might not have been very clear to you before. Now that you have something down, you will have something concrete to think about when it comes time to judge yourself in this virtue!
  • Expound on Your System (Pros and Cons): Use the system you detailed up above, and write a list of pros and possible cons for each bullet point. Don’t worry about coming up with negative consequences for ideas or beliefs—just because cons exist doesn’t mean that you will have to make immediate changes. The main point right now is to get used to the habit of thinking outside of absolutes and constantly reaffirming your own ideas. Make a list of how each belief or practice helps others, and a list of how, in certain situations, they can harm you, others, or in an other way just have some negative consequence. You may want to tweak certain ideas later on or discover new ways to compensate for any negative aspects of a particular ideology.
  • Chart the Value System of Someone You Admire: As well as getting your own ideas on paper, it may be useful to do the same for some observable person that you admire—hopefully someone you consider "noble". What ideas do they have about ethics or good behavior? How do they show that their beliefs are sincere? Next, write down why you agree or disagree with individual ideas, and evaluate if you value the same things. If you haven’t incorporated one of their ideas into your life, this might be a good time to think about it!
  • Make Your Own Value-System Oriented Goals: This website has examples of many different systems of virtues and values. Now that you defined some of your own, you should consider judging how well you live up to your own standards in a similar way. If you made a list as suggested up above, judge how well you succeed to fulfill each point on a daily basis. The idea is to be accurate, not simply pass the test as well as you can. In fact, if you behave extraordinarily well, note the common mistakes you would have made on a more ordinary day.
  • Listen to Others: You might not want to spell out exactly what you’re trying to do with this virtue and ask for their opinion, but you should make it a habit to listen to some of the advice or observations from others. Sometimes they will see things in you that you have difficulty noticing, or they may have a useful observation about how you appear even if they are dead wrong.
  • A Week in the Life of You: Or maybe some other period of time. Choose a designated period of time where you keep a daily record of how you benefited and diminished the lives of those around you. Since you’re not judging yourself at this point, you can write down all of the accidental harm you’ve caused others and yourself at this point too. Over time you should notice some things about yourself that you might have missed before, and you may become aware of some bad habits that could have increased the likelihood that you would hurt others by some accident.
  • Self-Description and Marketing Analysis: Divide a piece of paper into two columns. On one side, write down a description about yourself. Include details about who you are and others would benefit from being in contact with you. On the other side, write down what you could do in order to "advertise" these qualities to others so they become "sold" on this vision of yourself. What could you change? What could you do more often? How could you tweak existing behaviors? Consider how your actions toward others, the way you address them, the way you carry yourself—in other words both the superficial and more spiritual aspects of your personality.
  • Push Yourself Forward: If personal shyness or other similar attributes are keeping you from acting "nobly" around others, take an opportunity every day to actively do something you find noble that you usually wouldn’t have the gumption to do. This could be making a phone call, helping a stranger, complimenting someone, or doing some random act of kindness for a friend or an acquaintance. Get in the habit of breaking through your comfort zone and improving someone’s day.

Your Record

Every time you fail to live up to your own standards of good conduct without immediately trying to make amends, then mark yourself at "fault". Every time you fail to do something you think you should have done for selfish or other unjustifiable reason, then mark yourself at fault. Make some goals and plan some activities using the suggestions up above. If you fail to follow through on an activity or meet a goal, then mark yourself at fault.

Opinions

The stages of the Noble Path are: Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Behavior, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

Buddha, Hindu Prince and Founder of Buddhism

God has put somrthing noble and good into every heart His hand created.

Mark Twain, American Author, Humorist, and Lecturer

A noble person attracts noble people, and knows how to hold on to them.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German Playwright, Novelist, and Poet

Don't let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth - don't let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.

Aesop, Greek Author of Fables

Golden Mean

Unworthiness
Nobility
Snobbery, Pretentiousness, Pomposity

Recommended Reading

Values Clarification — by Dr. Sidney B. Simon, Leland W Howe, Howard Kirschenbaum

This book is all about learning what your own ideals and values are, and applying them to your personal decisions.

The Pursuit of Nobility: Living a Life That Matters — by Tim Daniel

This author calls his readers to live a life of "new" nobility, where one becomes a pusher of society and not simply just a member of the mass mentality. He hopes to help you put your fears behind and do something that really matters to you and the world.

Nobility of Spirit: A Forgotten Ideal — by Mr. Rob Riemen

This author speaks of gaining and maintaining nobility in the viewpoint of the importance of this virtue to maintaining civilization.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.



On Amazon.com

There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self. Hindu Proverb
Sedo - Buy and Sell Domain Names and Websites project info: virtue.net Statistics for project virtue.net etracker® web controlling instead of log file analysis
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