Tag Archives: Cardinal virtues

The Adventure as Portrayed by Three Artists (Part 1)

The Adventure is the second and last part of the road to happiness. Once the Adventure is complete then one is at the threshold of happiness.

The Adventure is that part of the road from the “good life” to the threshold of happiness.  This segment involves exercising the virtues, attained during the Journey, to complete one’s call or mission in life.  The virtues required are: wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice (as mentioned by the Stoics).  The acquisition of these four virtues delivers one to the threshold of happiness.

Wisdom is the virtue to recognize the call or summons that has been sent and to see the path of the Adventure that must be undertaken to follow the call.  Courage is the virtue to accept the call and begin the Adventure along the illuminated path.  Temperance is the virtue of moderation and fortitude to withstand the many temptations of power, fame, and riches that will be encountered along the Adventure.  Justice is the virtue of caring for one’s family and community by a willingness to deliver the boon or treasure (the reason for the Adventure) captured during the Adventure.  Those who exhibit these four virtues will be the ones most capable of delivering the boon of the Adventure to help society to flourish.  These same individuals will be the ones most likely to reach the threshold of happiness.

In my book, I present a number of artists that portray each of the three segments of the Adventure, which are displayed in the fourth, fifth, and sixth galleries.  It just so happens that three specific paintings from my book are all that is needed to illustrate the Adventure.  It is also interesting that these three paintings represent individuals alone on their quest.  These paintings of the Adventure differ from those of the Journey, in which the characters are surrounded by one’s family and/or friends.  The following paintings represent individuals attempting to satisfy the final Maslow need – self-actualization.  The four paintings that I discussed in earlier posts (those by Van Gogh, Brueghel the Elder, Renoir, and Rembrandt) illustrate individuals attempting the satisfy the fist four Maslow needs in an attempt to enjoy flow experiences.

What I would like to do in this blog and several future blogs is present just the three paintings that illustrate the Adventure.  It will be interesting to see how each painter goes about presenting the corresponding segment of the Adventure and how they differ from one another.

Let’s begin.  This first painting, Old Mill or The Morning Bell, by Winslow Homer depicts a girl who has the wisdom (first virtue) to see the illuminated path of her Adventure – a path away from her friends (friends from her Journey segment of the road to happiness) and towards the unknown to the left of the painting.  The painting also express the second virtue of courage.  She is not afraid to follow the path or calling that has been put before her to travel.


This picture represents extraordinary subtlety. The painting presents the path, previously taken, leading to the fork in the road where the girl is standing. She appears to have made her decision to travel upward along the road less traveled rather than downward towards the more popular path of her friends to the right. The sunlight is bathing the girl in warmth. The picture does not show us where the girl is traveling except that it is an upward climb into the distance. Perhaps this is the artist’s interpretation of the acceptance of the call; leaving others behind and entrance into an unknown future, willingly accepted.

If the Adventure is to be successful, the first two virtues must be exercised.  Wisdom will allow for the call of the Adventure to be recognized and courage will propel the individual forward along the path illuminated by wisdom.  However, as evident in the painting, happiness has not been reached – the girl is hopeful but still concerned about her decision to take the “road less traveled.”

Two additional virtues will be needed to bring the adventurer to the threshold of happiness.

Virtuous Entrepreneurs!

In today’s New York Times newspaper David Brooks, a right of center columnist, mentions that today’s conservatives need to stop extolling the virtues of the entrepreneur and focus more on ways that might improve the lives of the average American.

I don’t disagree with his assessment; however, I do think that it is important to study the virtues of entrepreneurs for two reasons: 1) the appear very happy, and 2) they contribute to the flourishing of society.

As I mention in my book, the average American can learn a lot from successful entrepreneurs; in fact, the average American should be encouraged to harness their own entrepreneurial instincts as the means for achieving happiness in life (not necessarily start a new business) and the flourishing of society.

Successful entrepreneurs are well-educated, trained, involved in society, and open to activities that lead to successes and failures.  These attributes lead to the wisdom and courage to see future opportunities and to capitalize on these opportunities.  It is clear that those who are not well-educated, socially involved, or open to new activities to enhance one’s self-esteem will not be able to see a future course of action in life, nor have the courage to act on one’s convictions.

In addition, the entrepreneur who is building a new venture must be frugal with resources and be offering a product that can be useful to others.  Of course, the venture will not succeed without the public’s embrace of the venture.

We can all learn from these successful entrepreneurs that the virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation, and concern for the well-being of society are the attributes that will lead to individual happiness and the flourishing of society.  Of course, the final virtue of love of neighbor is also needed to complete the mission for all, especially the  average American.

Book’s Summary in Images – Part 2

In my previous post, I mentioned that the format of my book relies on four dimensions.

The first two dimensions are the ideas of four ancient philosophers, two “positive” psychologists, and one mythologist, Joseph Campbell.  These great thinkers provide the structure to the book – what I call the “prose” portion of the Prose/Art Exposition.

First Two Dimensions of Book

Basically, these three segments of the triangle tell us that we are all motivated instinctively to achieve happiness in life or, at least, “self-actualization,” which I consider to be a fancy psychological word for happiness.  We are all motivated to try and reach happiness; but, as these great thinkers mention, most of us don’t reach happiness in our lives for a number of different reasons.

The great thinkers also tell us that there is a progression that we all must follow.  This progression, which differs among the thinkers, is basically: a need for food, shelter, and warmth, followed by safety and education, social interactions, exposure to many and varied risks, and if successful, finally a state of happiness.  Along this progression each of us will need to acquire certain cardinal virtues to withstand the many risks in life and succeed in our own adventures towards happiness.

This triangle of seven great thinkers is all that is needed to set the stage for what each of us needs to do.  However, each of us needs inspiration to trust the great thinkers and get going on our own personal rad to happiness.

Up next, the great artists.