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Why Everyday Politeness Is One of the Best Gifts of All, Part One

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Allegory of Virtue by Simon Vouet
During the Month of Self-Giving, I’ve put a lot of thought into the gifts that really matter–the acts of sacrifice that really change us.

For example, when I give make my husband an elaborate brunch (one of his favorite treats), I often expect some relaxation time in return. Even though I’ve worked hard and given him something he really enjoys, I haven’t really made myself more generous spirited. How do I go from doing something generous to being a generous person, who makes sacrifices for others without thinking about them and without feeling self-righteous or resentful?

I want to strengthen the virtue of generosity within myself. Read the rest of this entry

“On Virtue”

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Allegory of Virtues by Antonio da Correggio

Sometimes the virtues we strive for seem like they are impossibly out of reach. No matter how hard we try to make ourselves patient, wise, or forbearing, we constantly fall short of our expectations.

Part of self-reflection is learning to know our own short-comings. To recognize the things that try our patience the most. To predict the times our tempers are likely to flare.

But knowing that we are flawed doesn’t excuse us from trying to be better. Virtue is closer and more attainable than we might think. Phillis Wheatley, a black slave and the first African-American woman to publish a book, writes a beautiful allegory about just how easy virtue is to find for those that go looking for it.

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