Primary Virtue. Humility.
Humility means understanding that the delights, pains and needs of others are as important as our own, even though they don’t feel so. When we are humble, we can laugh at our self importance and sometimes, even, set it aside. We can see our own faults and the strengths of others, and we recognize how much we have been given, unearned.
Humility makes us aware of our personal limitations and the limitations of humanity more broadly. We acknowledge that there is much we do not know, that certainty is impossible, and that our understandings of the world are provisional at best. Humility opens us to growth and love.
Acceptance, which is not the same as approval, is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, wherein we come to recognize a situation (at times negative or uncomfortable) for what it is, without attempting to change it, protest, or leave it.
When we accept difficult realities, we are able to discover whatever positive feelings and experiences may be possible in that situation. We find ourselves more at peace and able to experience life more deeply. Even so, acceptance must be guided by discernment – learning how to tell the difference between what we can change and what we cannot.
Caring is letting things matter to us, including other people. It means valuing their well-being and acting with attention to their needs. When we care about someone or something, we hold a consciousness of what can harm them and what is needed for them to flourish. Acts of kindness and words that let others know that we care. Our caring can comfort another person even when neither of us has the power to change a difficult situation.
We can also care deeply about principles or goals. In these cases two, we carry an awareness of what can put these at risk or help them to be fulfilled. We reveal what we care about in what we do.
Forgiveness is being able to let go of harm done. It is relinquishing a sense of injured entitlement or tit-for-tat. Forgiveness releases us from resentment or bitterness and lets us reclaim our energy and sense of balance.
Sometimes we feel like we cannot forgive without remorse or propitiation on the part of the other person, but the power of forgiveness lies within us, not in the actions or attitudes of others. Speaking our truth and taking steps to protect ourselves from future harm can help us to move on. The more we understand the person who has harmed us, their feelings, frailties and external pressures, the easier it is to forgive.
Tolerance means accepting and valuing differences between people, appreciating that these differences enrich us. It recognizes that each of us has a limited perspective on the world and that together our tapestry of insights and virtues is greater than those of any one person, tribe or culture alone.
Tolerance acknowledges the vastness of Reality and cherishes the many human faces of that Reality. When we are tolerant we watch and listen and seek to discover how the many pieces fit together to make a wonderful whole. We are able to delight in the otherness of strangers and our intimate companions, knowing that our own lives would be less rich if everyone were more like us.
Generosity is freely sharing what you have with others. It is being willing to offer money, help or time when it is needed. To be generous means giving something that is valuable to you without expectation of reward or return. Many traditions measure generosity not by the size of the gift, but by what it cost the giver.
Sometimes generosity requires pushing past a feeling of reluctance because we all instinctively want to keep good things for ourselves. Even so, we can structure our lives in ways that make generosity more spontaneous and fun. When we intentionally "live below our means" and avoid overcommitment, we cultivate a sense of bounty or surplus that makes us want to share. When we give, we reap the pleasure of knowing we have made someone else's life a little happier.