Are you a skeptic who’s looking to lead an ethical life? Do you value reason and evidence, but have trouble consistently applying those principles to your own behavior? Are you a human being, who wants to become a better one? If so – rejoice!
- What is a virtue?
- Become an ethical skeptic
- Be skeptical in all things
- Be brave
- Be just
- Be knowledgeable and wise
You’ve come to the right place. There are many self-help books and articles about improving your character. But what if you want something a little different? Better people are kinder, wiser, more honest, more courageous and more compassionate.
They are also less materialistic, less fearful and less judgmental. How do we achieve that? It is not easy or straightforward.
Becoming a better person is hard work that involves continuous effort and self-improvement in various areas of life. However, it is possible with commitment and practice in habits of good character – which are called virtues.
What is a virtue?
A virtue is an excellent quality of character, an admirable trait or a good habit. It is an important part of human flourishing. There are many different kinds of virtues, some of which overlap.
You can be honest in some situations and dishonest in others. You can have some courage in certain circumstances but be cowardly in others. You can be kind in some contexts while being cruel in others. And sometimes you might act ethically while making an unwise decision.
Virtues are not just things that you do sometimes, but things that you are. They are part of your character and identity. They are not always easy to spot in ourselves, however, because we often deceive ourselves. We have self-serving biases, we tend to think selectively, and we have blind spots.
Become an ethical skeptic
Becoming an ethical skeptic involves recognizing and reflecting on our biases, expectations and tribalism. It means being open-minded, open-hearted and critical at the same time.
Ethical skepticism is about being open to new ideas, but also being discerning about what and who to trust. It’s about being curious and open to new experiences, but also being discerning about what to pursue.
Ethical skepticism is the commitment to find and follow the facts, and to be open to mountains of evidence that your position may be wrong. It is the willingness to change your mind when the evidence and arguments demand it.
Ethical skepticism involves the unity of head and heart. It is realizing that our emotions and instincts sometimes mislead us, and that our heads often contain the evidence we need to see past them. Ethical skepticism is about having an open heart but a discerning mind.
Be skeptical in all things
We are often quick to attach ourselves to political parties, social causes and various kinds of religions. However, these commitments are often based on tribalism, fear, ignorance or greed.
We should be skeptical of associations that are based primarily on emotions, or on particular ideologies. We should be suspicious of groups that seek power, money or members more than truth, love and justice.
We must be careful not to be blindly loyal to any individual or group, even if they are generally ethical. If you are going to be a good skeptic, you must constantly be questioning your own assumptions and biases.
You need to be aware that you are distorting information and ignoring facts that challenge your beliefs. You must also be aware of the fact that you are distorting information and ignoring facts that challenge others’ beliefs.
If you want to be courageous, you must first understand your fears. If you want to overcome them, you must first identify them. Most of us never do this, and as a result, many of us are held hostage by our fears.
To become a courageous person, you must face your fears, make plans to confront them, and take steps to overcome them. Courage is not an occasional act, but a daily habit.
There are many things you can do to become a more courageous person. You can face your fears and make plans to overcome them. You can surround yourself with people who encourage you to be courageous. You can practice gratitude to remind yourself that you have things to live for.
You can practice mindfulness meditation to face your fears and become more present in difficult situations. You can also learn to let go of grudges and resentments.
They only cause you to live in the past and make you angry at those who have wronged you. This will only make you fearful and unable to be courageous.
If you want to be a just person, you must be willing to make decisions and judgments based on evidence, reason and principles. You must be willing to stand up for what is right in the face of societal pressure, personal desire and even the law.
You must be willing to challenge authority when necessary, and stand up for the rights of others. You must be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good, and give up what you want for what is fair.
You must be willing to be unpopular, be deceived, be hurt and be wrong. Being just does not make you a saint. It means that you are willing to stand up for what is right even when it costs you.
It means that you are willing to make honest mistakes, and make sacrifices for what is right. It means being fully human.
Be knowledgeable and wise
To become a wise person, you must be willing to learn from others, from your own experiences and from history. You must be willing to learn continuously throughout your life and be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
You must be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations, challenge your own assumptions and be open to criticism. You must be willing to change your mind, discard what no longer works and replace it with something better.
To become a wise person, you must be willing to challenge your own beliefs and be open to change. Knowing is not enough. We have to transform knowledge into wisdom — to make it our own and put it into practice.
We must be willing to challenge what we think we know and look at it in new ways. We must be willing to question our assumptions and biases. We must be willing to stay open in the face of new information, and change in the face of new evidence.
Becoming a better person is not easy or straightforward. It takes effort and commitment, and it means changing many aspects of your behavior and approach to life.
While there are many different ways to do this, we can see that it primarily involves becoming an ethical skeptic, being brave and being knowledgeable and wise. What are you waiting for?