Ben Franklin’s 13 Principles for Success: #1 – Temperance


Principle #1: Temperance

Eat not dullness; drink not to elevation

In this first principle, Ben Franklin is referring to excessive eating and drinking. Commonly referred to as gluttony and alcoholism. But why? Why this as a first principle for success?

First, let’s define temperance. Temperance can be defined as “moderation in action, thought or feeling.” Another  definition I found insightful is “moderation or self-restraint in action, statement.”

In this word, temperance, you find the word moderation and self-restraint or self-control. If you don’t know how to do things in moderation and know how and when to exercise and use self-control, success may come, but it will come at a price and it will not be sustainable.

This is a virtue, taught by many different religions, each having their own version, but the essence and teaching of this virtue is essentially the same principle: Grow in temperance – moderation and self-control – that you develop greatness of character and succeed in life.

How To Apply in Your Life?

Take stock of things in your life in which you give an excessive amount of time and attention towards. These could be well meaning things, but if they are the dominating your life and causing you to neglect over equally or more important things, such as taking care of your body, spending quality time with family, etc., then you are not applying this first principle of success.

To identify these areas in your life, do the following:

  1. List out things in your life that consumes your time. Include in this list things that you would like to do less of, but can’t seem to.
  2. Asses how not practicing moderation or exercising self control is impacting your life.
  3. Come up with ways to spend less or consume less. Perhaps you may someone to help you come up with ways to break away from the habit.
  4. Practice meditation to clear your mind of these habits and to reprogram your mind to be able to practice moderation and self-control.