Virtue is not a word we hear all that much; it’s not a thought that crops up in the regularity and routine of our days. Well, I propose that we consider Virtue as an aloha-filled theme for the coming month. A List to make and check off twice. Today is December 1st, and the day presents itself as a perfect time to live within virtuous thoughts and effort. The holiday season frames Virtue wonderfully, and after the year I can imagine you’ve had, you deserve this. We all do.
What is Virtue?
“Virtue is the habitual, well-established, readiness or disposition of man’s powers directing them to some goodness of act. Virtue is the moral excellence of a man or a woman … as applied to humans, a virtue is a good character trait.”
How can you not like that, and want more of it?
Morality can be a tough thing to get our arms around at times, for we are living in an age where we tend to be politically correct and play it safe. We can get reticent when talking about virtue and morality unless we are in the safe arms of our family and closest friends, or teaching our own children. So my effort today is to package virtue for us a bit in some ready-for-December goodness we can all share more openly.
You can visit Wikipedia if you’d like more background on the four classic Western or Islamic “cardinal” virtues and so on. I present to you my Aloha Virtue List, admittedly taken with full liberty simply because I feel it’s a great way to welcome December’s promise with open arms. This is the “moral excellence” I shall focus on building within my own character this month:
Hope. Hope is such a beautiful thing. It is an attitude about the best of possibility becoming real. Hope looks at all the good that is true about the present and assumes it will ho‘omau, persist and be perpetuated into our future — and then some.
Freedom. Something we take for granted much too much. Think of all the ways you are unshackled and free to make your choices, and it becomes clear that most of us know no other way to live. Within virtue, we set our minds and hearts free.
Humor. Speaking of hearts, this comes from Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Laughter fills the holidays, and no one can tell me our ability to laugh at ourselves is not character-building and virtuous.
Prayer. There is so much comfort in the thought that Someone bigger than ourselves may be listening, and may care. There is comfort knowing we always have Someone to talk to about anything and everything. I do not shy from admitting I can use those comforts.
Vitality. There is a fire that burns within us during the holidays. Give in and let it burn up any stress, replacing it with enthusiastic and eager energy. Zip. Zeal. Zest. All vitally and dynamically virtuous.
Wonder. To have an inner capacity that can always make room for awe and wonder is such a blessing. To return to child-like innocence and acceptance, to be rendered speechless, and have it feel good and right, never helpless. To not have all the answers but feel it is perfectly fine not to, to just have wonder.
Trust. We can wonder because we can trust. People tend to be kind of needy, and that’s okay. When we need others we learn to trust and be trustworthy in our relationship building. We learn to love more. We learn to have faith in each other. We cultivate magnetic attractions to good intention.
Faith. I have some trouble with the concept of fate, but I do believe in having faith as something that empowers us to create our own destiny. There is faith in the divine and the spiritual, faith in others and in self, faith that good will always defeat evil — I choose to believe in every variety and aspect of it.
Grace. This is one of my favorite words, and oddly, because I can’t define it well. However I don’t feel the need to, because grace is goodness which just is. I can only wish I feel it more, experience it more, and give it more. I once heard grace called “unmerited favor” and I love that. I want to be gracious, always.
Gratitude. There may be no mightier force in our lives than learning to live in thankfulness for all we are and all we have been given. An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of aloha; The breath of life within you is meant to be shared in appreciation, thankfulness, and gratitude.
Joy. Happiness with more than contentment. Happiness with bliss and euphoria. Silliness without self-consciousness. The holidays are so perfect for splashes of joy in color, in song, in tinsel and texture, even in the scents that fill the air. But most of all, in people’s faces.
Peace. If we sow the seeds of virtue, we cultivate fertile ground for peace. If we seek to understand and not condemn, to take the high road versus getting even, we uncover how alike we are much more than we are different. We all want peace.
Nouns begging our action to make them verbs. I suppose it’s possible to have some debate about the semantics of these. Some may think of them as values, others as principles, others as spiritual concepts. Blame this list on me. I welcome their association with Virtue, for I’ll take the self-imposed quest for more “moral excellence” willingly; I want to make my way toward that “goodness of act.” Doing so is part of managing life with aloha.
December, bring it on. I’ve got my Aloha Virtue List locked and loaded, and I’m ready for you.
Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. Rosa is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.
Previous Thursday Column: Reap Joy from this thanks-giving holiday.