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Mental Health Center

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Is Virtue Over-Rated?

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

Redbook Magazine Logo Stop 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 exasperation.

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