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Values, Virtues, Morals, and Outcomes


Individually and collectively, our values are the positive aspects of life we are drawn to and want to exemplify. Virtues are the character traits and moral guidelines we seek to internalize that result in desirable repeated behaviors and outcomes. These all work together to hopefully serve the greater good and create a better world.


Whether from religious beliefs, humanist ethics, or simple observation, from a young age, we gain an understanding of what is "good" in life. Storybooks like "Aesop's Fables" inspire awareness of moral lessons and wisdom. Religious, civic, and youth organizations commonly strive to impart values and positive character traits to others. An example from the Scouting website states that a Scout is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. Those characteristics could be considered values.

Because of the many ways values are instilled in us at an early age, this document will likely seem obvious and simplistic to some people. To others, the ideas presented here will be unfamiliar.

Building Blocks

Some values and virtues are combined to form others. Just as hydrogen and oxygen combine to create water, patience, generosity, empathy, and selflessness are combined to create caring. In this way compound virtues draw upon other virtues as prerequisites.

Directory and Glossary

The list below defines some positive practices, principles, values, and virtues.


There are sometimes benefits to being virtuous and embracing the concepts listed above.

Wrong Reasons

Doing good sometimes produces material rewards and garners public praise from others. However, one shouldn't do good with the expectation of a reward or praise. The choice to pursue a value-driven life should not be rewards-based. One should want to do good because it's the right thing to do. Here are some misguided reasons for living a virtuous life.


There are some people who don't believe it's possible to be truly selfless. They believe that every act of selflessness is somehow grounded in a selfish motive. Whatever example you provide, they will spin an interpretation that suggests a self-serving motive. Regardless of motive, or the extent to which someone may be aware of a personal benefit to doing good, we should do good anyway. Baselessly accusing people of underlying selfishness, or second-guessing people's motives is counterproductive. Someone with an anger problem may try to justify it, saying that getting angry is okay. They may try to portray anger as valuable and beneficial. When you're on a road called "Frustration and Dissapointment" you may at some point reach a fork in that road where you must decide between "Anger" or "Forgiveness and Letting Go." Anger is a response to circumstances, choosing other responses may be more beneficial.

Tough Choices

Sometimes doing the right thing is a clear choice, but not always. Deciding between inaction and action, or which action to take, can be complicated in situations where one is choosing the least worst outcome. The Spike Lee film "Do the Right Thing" portrays the ethical complexities life can present us with. Reflecting on the list of benefits above, one realizes that there are some situations where regardless of what someone does, they won't please everyone. For example, when a whistleblower reports on corruption, rather than getting a reward and praise, they may get punished and publicly smeared.

[Revised: 11 Aug 2021 at 8:49 PM CT]