Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Aristotle Said about Personal Strength

The term "personal strength" is relatively new. It evolved from the phrase "character strength," which is a closely related, but culturally loaded and more limiting concept.

It's interesting to note, however, that wise people were talking about aspects of personal strength over 2,000 years ago. One of these sages was Aristotle, a Greek philosopher (B.C. 384-322). A student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great, Aristotle was a prolific writer and a founding figure in Western thought.

Here's some of his wisdom...

On CHARACTER - “In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”

On COMPASSION - “Never discourage anyone... who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”

On COMPOSURE - “Anyone can become angry—that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, and in the right way—that is not easy.”

On COURAGE - "Courage is the first of the virtues, because it makes all others possible."

On EXCELLENCE - "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

On FAIRNESS - “The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.”

On HONESTY - "The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold."

On INITIATIVE - "Well begun is half done."

On SELF-DEVELOPMENT - “Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it: men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts, we come to be just; by doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave.”

On SELF-DISCIPLINE - “What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”

On SELF-ESTEEM - “The bad man is continually at war with, and in opposition to, himself.”

Post by Dennis E. Coates, PhD, Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength . (Photo of bust by Marie-Lan Nguyen, released to public domain)

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