Primary Virtue. Discernment.
Discernment is the ability to grasp, comprehend, and evaluate clearly. It means we can see the true nature of things; it allows us to distinguish between what is real and what is imitation.
Discernment may begin with intuitive hunches and perceptiveness. With intuition as a starting point, the quality of discernment is built over time on honest observation, careful reasoning, and balanced application of our knowledge and principles. In a person who is highly discerning, intuition, emotion, and reason inform each other. As we grow in experience, our ability to discern usually grows stronger, providing us with insight that propels us toward greater wisdom.
Pragmatism means accepting what’s real and making the best of it. It is figuring out how to fulfill our values and mission in the real world rather than spending our energy complaining that things should be different. When we are pragmatic, we accept the status quo, even if we don’t like it. We explore the cause and effect relationships that govern our lives, and then use the power we have to make things better.
Pragmatism means that we look at our own behaviors and ideas and ask ourselves—Do they work? Are they getting us to where we want to go? Pragmatism and flexibility go hand in hand, because the world keeps changing around us.
Integrity means being true to ourselves and being honest, upright, and decent in our dealings with others. When we are guided by integrity, our thoughts and words are in line with each other; our actions align with our principles. Our conduct speaks for us, more eloquently than words ever could. It becomes the basis for both reputation and self-respect. Integrity demands courage but delivers untroubled sleep.
Developing integrity requires internal honesty, because we can’t be honest with others unless we are honest with ourselves. It requires self awareness, since we cannot accurately communicate what we do not know.
People of integrity can be counted on to stand up for what it right, even if it is unpopular, and to behave with honor even when there is no one around to see. Integrity allows other people to trust us because they know that we value our commitments and seek to live by them. It is one of the cornerstones of loving relationships and shared endeavors.
Reliability means following through on our commitments, doing what we say we will do. When we are reliable, others can count on us, and we can count on ourselves.
Reliability is one of the foundations of teamwork or cooperation. It allows people to work together, with each person doing what he or she does best, knowing that friends, family, or co-workers are taking care of other tasks.
In a community, reliability supports individual growth and discovery. It allows us to take risks, knowing that others will be there if we fall.
Sincerity means being true to ourselves and being honest, upright, and decent in our dealings with others. When we are guided by sincerity, our thoughts and words are in line with each other; our actions align with our principles. Our conduct speaks for us, more eloquently than words ever could. It becomes the basis for both reputation and self-respect. Sincerity demands courage but delivers untroubled sleep.
Developing sincerity requires internal honesty, because we can’t be honest with others unless we are honest with ourselves. It requires self awareness, since we cannot accurately communicate what we do not know.
Understanding is the ability to grasp the key elements of a complex subject, person or situation. Understanding can be focused internally as an honest awareness of our own feelings and motivations or externally as insight into what is true and important in the world around us.
Understanding may be partly a function of reasoning skills, but it also grows out of a patient process of introspection, contemplation, or study. A wise friend or counselor can act as a mirror, reflecting back our fragments of insight and adding their own so that we can see the whole.