Virtue is one of those words that contains multitudes. If you think about it, being virtuous is not doing one thing all the time, or even lots of things all at once. It’s doing all the right things—the important things—in those moments when they matter most. Which is every moment. Day by day, It’s about taking the right actions and holding yourself to the highest standard.
Needless to say, that’s really hard.
Marcus Aurelius tried to do it all, all the time, but he also knew he was a flawed person. He knew he got overwhelmed (he joked to himself that no one could ever accuse him of being quick-witted). He knew that it was easy to fall short. So he had a little piece of advice for himself about how to stay on the right path.
That advice was: Practice the virtues you can show. The public stuff. The stuff that was visible and obvious, that could be illustrated by actions instead of explanation. Virtues like:
This is a good rule for us today. Yes, we want to be virtuous. We want to do it all. But why don’t we just start with doing the right things right now—with what we can show?