The Benjamin Franklin Secrets for Success Workbook
Benjamin Franklin once set out to write a book very much like this one. He had developed specific techniques for perfecting oneself (self-improvement) through the development of virtues. It was to be called “The Art of Virtue”, but unfortunately, it was never finished.
More importantly perhaps, Franklin also intended to create an organization (a “secret society”) based on that idea. Why "secret"?
Benjamin Franklin was held in high esteem by scientists, diplomats and religious leaders alike. In fact, when he died, a group that included an array of clergy from church representatives of different faiths, formed a procession and passed in front of his house to honor him and his wishes that people of all faiths be brothers and sisters. In ironic contrast to that wonderful display of unity, before he died, he and his ideas were often criticized and rejected - even by those he tried to help bring peace, understanding & tolerance to.
A Unitarian himself (amongst other things), he was admired and loved by those of many faiths, including scientists and atheists. Franklin's "the art of virtue" book and organization ideas were based on the golden rule. They were well within Christian ideals, but not limited to them. The core of the Christian golden rule concept was given as a commandment by Jesus, not just a teaching. Unfortunately, that didn't mean Franklin's organization would be accepted by all the powerful churches of the time. And times were very different then. People were still punished and killed as heretics.
Thus Franklin believed it would be best to keep his "virtue" based ideology private to protect it from the potential wrath of those who might consider anything not totally keeping with their dogma or agenda, to be a threat. If it was considered enough of a threat, it could result in it being called heresy and its members chastised by society, or worse.
Interestingly, times haven't totally changed. The GRO and this book have still encountered some of the same prejudice and resistance. Sadly, too many think "their way" (or their specific version of their beliefs) is the only way. But gosh, it seems to me that out of all those faiths who think they're the only true faith, it would be hard to tell which one is. But fortunately, it isn't our mission to make such a decision.
We believe, as did Benjamin Franklin, that anything that helps make someone a better/nicer person, is a good thing, and part of the right path. That's why we just promote Franklin's ideals and the golden rule, because it also includes many more good things. Of course, part of promoting that is encouraging simply being compassionate "good people" who care about each other. And of course, along with that, naturally comes a desire and hope for more cooperation and tolerance between all people. If you or your faith agrees, we'd be happy to hear from you, and list you in our future online database (to help people find like-minded individuals and faiths/houses of worship). We have no members, keep no central records, nor exert any sort of say so over individuals or groups using the methods in this book, or starting their own groups. We do however ask that our copyrighted and trademarked names are not used to represent yourself as us, in order to prevent misunderstandings.
Franklin strongly believed that if even a few people committed their lives to developing the virtues of being a “good” person, and then “secretly” (not obtrusively) recruited friends and family, over time it would spread from one person to the next, and eventually create a new and better society.
Part of his plan was for the program to be universal. It was not to be limited to any one religion, and was to avoid alienating any religion. The need for secrecy was primarily due to the very real threat in those days, of being charged with heresy (that really burns me up - sorry, bad joke). That particular threat is gone in this day and age, and we can openly pursue such a wonderful non-denominational self-improvement/world improvement program. It is our hope and belief that this book, and the creation of Golden Rule Organization (GRO), fulfills his goals and dreams.
The GR Workbook
This workbook gives easy to follow, step-by-step instructions and helpful ready-made “worksheets” to apply special self-improvement virtues in your life - all by yourself, with a spouse or with a group of like-minded people who desire the same thing.
These self-improvement virtues are not really new. Nor do they just go back to the days of Ben Franklin and the U.S. Founding Fathers. They are as old as time and universal to all people (and most cultures, societies and religions) around the world. What is new here, are the methods used to apply it in your life and the many ways it can be used for self-improvement, in many different circumstances.
This book, the methods it uses and the benefits it can provide, can completely change your life. It can free (and has freed) people from old negative habit patterns, programming, and destructive emotional experiences that have shaped (and continue to shape) their lives. We’ll also give specific examples of the practical (and spiritual) benefits of using these techniques and virtues to enhance your life, and the lives of everyone you know and meet.
Just to give one example right now, the techniques and methods included here, can help you be more caring in your daily life, and thus have better interactions with everyone, everyday - from strangers to family. You can take it as far into your life, or out of your life, as you want to. It’s your life, and you’re in control. But remember, you can’t change other people, you can only change your self. The good news is, that by changing yourself, you can give the “opportunity” for others to change, just because of the example you set, and the influence your new life can have. Other people are free to recoil from you, or be inspired by you. That’s all anyone can do.
So what’s the “magic bullet” virtue that can have such amazing impact on you and yours? It’s several things, but let’s start with the one that’s at the center of all this. In our opinion, an ancient virtue that has long been used as a “way to live” by many (from atheists to spiritual or religious people), holds the key to the greatest self-improvement methods ever created. It’s called “the Golden Rule” - but since it can mean so many different things to different people, we’d better define the one we’re using as the cornerstone for this book.
While working on applying the Golden Rule with others of like-mind can provide you the greatest opportunity for personal spiritual development, it’s not an exclusively religious concept, virtue or rule (although it can be, depending on who’s talking about it or how it’s being used). For our purposes here, we don’t want to cross it over into religion or being associated with any specific religion or religions. Thus, we’ll talk about the virtues we find to be universally helpful for everyone & anyone who strives for self-improvement.
Using the GR Workbook to Work with Others
If you want to work with others, you can join or create anything from a weekly study group/club, to a GR fellowship or intentional roommate situation. You can also do inspirational “morning meetings” like major successful corporations do, re-affirming your commitment to succeeding with your goals and enjoying/being dedicated to your work. It all depends on how “in-depth” you want to get with it.
Who Can I Do It With
GR Workgroups can be comprised of your spouse alone, your present friends, family, members of your religion, or to a more limited extent, you alone. Also, if no one you know wants to do it with you, you might be able to make new friends at an already existing GR study group, or a cooperating spiritual/religious fellowship that already has one based within your faith.
Unfortunately, to prevent abuse of the organization, we have no members, or "leaders". Also, we don't have a database for finding like minded people up yet, but hope do be able to do so when time, money and labor allows. If you want to be on such a database though, please email us and sign up for our free newsletter. Then if such a time comes, we can notify you and ask if you want your email (or an alternate one) to be listed, along with whatever other info you wish to list.
How can this be so universal, that even people with different religions can come together, use it, and find common ground? Because all “good” people are essentially just one big “family” within the human race. And all good people, relate to the virtues we’re talking about. It’s a non-denominational universal concept that involves individual choices, a way to live your life, a principle to live by, rather than religion or faith to live by. It neither includes or shuns anyone of any peaceful tolerant religion or faith (or lack of religion or faith) - that’s why it can be a common ground. Living by these universal virtues, doesn’t require anyone to change religions, leave their religion, or join a religion if they don’t have one. If you belong to a church, synagogue, temple, ashram, etc., and you like the idea of GR focused self-improvement meetings, you can talk to the appropriate congregation leaders about starting sanctioned GR “clubs” or “study groups”. If you don’t have a religion, but would like to participate in one with like-minded individuals, as this book reaches more readers over time, GRO hopes to create retreats and seminars where GR Workgroup teachers can show people how it works. Then we will build a referral database of both independent GR Study Groups/Clubs (not affiliated with us or any religion), and GR groups affiliated with known sympathetic churches/temples/etc..
Please keep in mind though, that because GRO (the Golden Rule Organization) is an IRS 501c3 non-profit, we have certain rules we must conform to, and also don’t want people teaching “who knows what” under our banner or by using our name without approval or training. We’ve seen that sort of thing before, thus, the names are trademarked, the methods awaiting patent, and all instructional material copyrighted. So please check with us about becoming certified GRO group leaders/teachers first, before starting anything new yourself. Thanks.
Read Directions and Shake Well before Using
If you intend to use this workbook, please read it all the way through one time, and then re-read it again. This is necessary because many of the concepts and methods presented here, cross-over with each other, and are subsequently scattered throughout the book. Thus, if you aren’t familiar with all the concepts, you may not fully understand everything until after you’ve read it through once, and read it again.
“I Want to Know What Love is”
The word “Love” has come to mean two very different things. In fact, the meanings are essentially totally opposite of each other. Most people don’t ever think of it and continue to use the exact same word (love) for both things.
The first kind of love could be called “Pure love”. Pure love is an outflowing, giving, caring kind of love - it could also be called “Unselfish Love”. Pure love is the kind of love that is related to things like: Santa Claus; Caring love for your family and friends; Charity; Helping disaster victims; One of the interpretations of the Golden Rule (“Love thy neighbor”); etc.. It is the kind of love that the selfish side of yourself gets nothing out of, but that the “good” side of yourself gets a “warm” feeling from.
The next kind of love that is commonly referred to, is actually nothing like “Pure love”. It is really just a feeling of pleasure that comes with “getting” something you want or like (physically or emotionally). It doesn’t matter if it comes from someone else somehow giving you something you like, or it is from self-indulgence. It is all self-gratifying. So let’s call that kind of love “selfish love”. Here are just a FEW quotes that are examples of this: “I love ice cream”, “I love football”, “I love presents”, “I love chocolate”, “I love Hawaii”, “I love BMW’s”, “I love beer”, etc.. However, the “I love....” we’ll be dealing with most, involve relationships.
Such selfish “love” crosses over into our relationships also. For instance, when someone says something like “I love Sam”, or “I love Marsha”, what it probably really means is that they “get off” on the attention, energy, and pleasure they get from Sam or Marsha.
Relationships can involve a mixture of selfish love and pure love. However, many relationships start with (and are actually based on) selfish love (primarily or totally) and many also break up because of it. If you really think about it, it’s easy to understand why.
When a relationship is based on the self-gratifying pleasure you get from your partner, it results in a sort of “addiction” to one degree or another. You can then end up with addictive behavior - possessiveness, jealousy, rejection, and all the other selfishly spawned causes of pain and turmoil that come with such addiction. And as that worsens, or depending on the individual, you can end up with what’s called “co-dependency”, which can not only make for a miserable relationship, but really be destructive.
Pure love creates no addiction and leaves no room for codependent behavior. A person who really loves in that way, cares more about those they love than they do about themselves. They tend to be self-sacrificing. They want to help & heal, not hurt. And when someone is truly making an effort to change and become that way, they don’t “blocks out” and ignore wrongs they have done to someone they love. They aren’t defensive, and want to hear anything that may help them improve themselves. Which brings us to another part of the techniques, which is soliciting and using constructive criticism. Using such techniques really can eventually improve your life, the lives of those around you, and ultimately, the whole world. It may take time, but it is definitely worth it.
Like any contaminant, selfishness can taint and ruin the purity of true love. It’s kind of like how putting drops of poison in a jug of pure water contaminates the whole jug. Or like how a little bit of e-coli bacteria in a little bit of ground beef can ruin an entire batch. Similarly, you can’t have a love that’s pure and true if it is at all contaminated with selfishness - even a little can grow, spread, and ruin relationships (or worse).
Unconditional Love vs. Conditional True Love.
The kind of love we’re talking about developing, and using for self-improvement and helping others, isn’t unconditional love. Why? Because what we’re talking about is more fair, reasonable, and good for others. With it, you can really be loving and do what is best for others, which sometimes requires “putting your foot down”. If someone is truly applying unconditional love, then they should be allowing horrific acts, words, and behaviors by someone else. And that’s not what most people really want, is it? Children for instance, need guidelines, and some form of caring, positive reinforcement discipline, or they could turn out to be very cruel or selfish people, who hurt others.
As far as keeping a balance goes, one who applies an unselfish type of love in their life, is reasonably kind, reasonably giving, but not unconditionally kind, unconditionally giving, etc.
People don’t often think about it, but there are a lot of virtues involved with simply being a “good” person. For example, caring, kindness, compassion, tolerance, sharing, giving, harmlessness, respecting the free will choices of others (if harmless), etc., are all results of loving unselfishly.