Is Virtue Over-Rated?
working so hard at being good!
Sure, being virtuous is seen as a positive attribute, but it can also take
the fun and sparkle out of life by making you fret about your imperfections.
Here, Veronique Vienne shares her list of the seven deadly virtues -- and how
to overcome them -- all from her latest book of life lessons, The Art of
Being a Woman . Born and raised in Paris, Vienne is also the best-selling
author of the now-classic The Art of Doing Nothing.
1. Assuming that one is never too thin or too rich
If we didn't feel obliged to become a better person, we'd buy more steamy
novels than self-help books, so there would be practically no risk of anyone's
trying to become too skinny, punctual, compassionate, or wealthy overnight. And
best-dressed socialites would be considered way too thin and too rich.
2. Constantly raising the bar
People should be encouraged to set professional goals and strive to reach
them, but the bigger your paycheck gets, the later you'll have to work. Figure
that with every promotion, you'll lose about 15 minutes a day with each of your
kids. And too much talk around the dinner table about "making the
numbers" will definitely have an adverse effect on your libido. Truth be
told, earning money is relatively easy; the challenge is earning just enough to
enjoy the life you make with it.
3. Having what it takes
Step back from time to time in order to see the big picture and perhaps come
across brand-new perceptions. If you're a type A personality, pretend to be a
type B: Deliberately stop to smell the electricity in the air before a storm,
for instance. Make eye contact with a baby, or watch the twitching whiskers of
a sleeping cat.
4. Wasting no time
A sure way to become chronically frustrated is to put excessive value on
every God-sent instant. So instead of waiting passively for the next screw-up
to disrupt your tight schedule, preemptively misspend precious minutes. Every
so often, stare mindlessly out your window, refold the dish towels in the linen
closet, or, when no one is looking, tap your fingernails dramatically, in mock
5. Being organized
There's something strangely liberating about losing stuff. It often happens
when you should be rushing out of the house to get to an appointment. You find
yourself rummaging through your coat pockets, the kitchen drawer, and the
medicine cabinet in search of...your grocery list? Cough drops? You already
forgot! Revel in your disorganization. It slows down the relentless ticking of
6. Being goal-oriented
Always getting what you want can deprive you of serenity. For example, you
go to the mall with the idea of buying the latest toaster. After shopping for
an hour, you burn out and decide you've got way too much stuff already. Going
home empty-handed, you feel elated. You -- instant wisdom! -- realize that
you're already happy with what you have.
7. Being righteous
Perfectionism is overrated. That said, it's better to be a good person
riddled with self-criticisms than to be someone who flaunts her imperfections,
such as padding her resume like personal trophies. Believing in progress is
better than being the type who presumes that her flaws are above the fray.
Foolish optimism is not a deadly virtue.