Virtue is contagious. The harder we work to better ourselves, the more likely it is that the people around us will begin taking steps toward their own improvement.
Sometimes the spreading of virtue happens rapidly, especially if it is taking place in the context of a new friendship. Most often, you’re going to have to prove yourself.
Anyone can start a fad diet. Anyone can get a gym membership or buy a pair of running shoes. Learning a few words of a foreign language isn’t hard.
What’s hard is sticking with it. Will we give up after a month? After ten months? Do we think we’ll still be at it in two years? What about five years from now?
If we can consistently keep up a positive new habit for half a decade, we will see very significant changes in our lives. That could mean fluency in a new language, or mastery of a new skill or profession. It could be the difference between doing wall push-ups and doing planche pushups. Whatever it is, it’s enough to be something noticeable and impressive.
And the people around us will be watching. I was at one time morbidly obese, and whenever someone I knew started out on a diet, I myself would start silently rooting for them to fail. Their failure would mean my vindication, according to some warped logic.
But it only took seeing one person succeed, one person that I knew personally, for my mindset to change, and for me to commit to losing the weight.
It took years for the pounds to disappear (and even still the process isn’t finished), but it took mere minutes for me to decide to change my life and myself for the better, whatever it would take.
One person’s virtue can affect the lives of many, and especially of those people who are closest to us, whom we care about the most.