Rule 66. Good company and good conversation are the sinews of virtue.
This rule is another gift from Stephen Allen’s wisdom.
Webster defined Virtue as follows:
Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law.
– Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
It is, in essence, good character. We are born with character, just as we are born with bodies, yet as with our bodies, exercise is required to strengthen what we have.
There are many ways of practicing and improving your virtue. Among the best, according to this rule, are company and conversation. Not just any conversation or associations, but those that are good, that force us to develop.
Conversation is what helps us share and improve ideas. It grants the opportunity to discuss what we think and compare it with the views or ideas of others. This itself is pointless unless you have good company for such conversation.
A man is easily known by the company he keeps. It shows his preferences and ideas. Rarely do we associate with people with whom we have nothing in common. We tend to form groups based on such common interests or goals.
Develop a Routine– People rarely exercise without a planned routine. Consider the same for your character. Plan what ways you will improve yourself through conversation. What kinds of questions do you need to ask the intellectuals you know? What questions of the practical people?
Repetition – When you exercise, the amount of “reps” you make is significant to your physical ability. Do likewise with your character. Continually take advantage of moments to do things that are selfless, good, noble. By consistent practice, it becomes a healthy habit.
Push– If we stay within our comfort zone in conversation, only speaking on the topics we feel most confident with, then we will not develop much more through them. Just as in exercise, you need to branch out and do more than push-ups or sit-ups if you wish to get better than those particular routines.