Sunday, 5 July 2015

Why happiness calls for a stable long-term purpose

Culture and fashion are calls for conformity. Relinquishing individual thinking and embracing a standard lifestyle bring enormous advantages. They save you time when it comes to taking decisions. They spare you embarrassment when it comes to disguising the truth.

The opposite side is filled by non-conformity, which is just a different sort of style. Holidays are not spent on the beach, but practising dangerous sports. Hobbies do not include watching movies, but wandering in the tropical forest. Clothes, instead of well-fitting and colourful, are torn and monochrome.

Downtrodden tracks


You can choose either way to fill your years, not with happiness, but with souvenirs. Imitating someone else's pictures is not the way to create great paintings. Adopting values that make no sense will not move you forward nor render your feelings more intense. Downtrodden tracks lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. For sure, that is not a path you want to take.


There is an alternative, the same that has always worked. You don't need to spend your days wondering which fashion leads to less dismay. Wisdom does not entail rejecting principles that are preached, but comparing them with reason, and selecting those that work.

Individuality can only draw meaning from private reflection. Sound choices are the result of man's logical evaluation of the world. Before we start to compose our own song, we must allow our mind to filter out random noise. These are my three recommendations about how to move from inherited values to consistency with reality.


Three recommendations


  • First, stop believing in myths: Neither specific clothes, nor gadgets, nor locations lead to happiness. The majority might bestow moral credibility to arbitrary standards, but you are not obliged to buy in. The idea that things have to be done in one specific way is, more often than not, false. Shun rigidity and look around for fresh answers.
  • Second, abandon contradictory goals: Irrationality is synonymous with inconsistency. False ideas conflict with facts and with each other. Anxiety is the mark of those who move at random, without destination. Animals do not need perspective, but humans do. Drop ideas that do not make sense and rebuild your thinking structure.
  • Third, determine your direction: Universal principles can be distilled from observation, but each has a myriad of different applications. The law of cause and effect drives all existence, but your context is unique. No one can tell you how to lead your life best. Let your reason establish your ambitions and priorities. This is a proven method for increasing your happiness and personal growth.
Realize that the short-term contentment derived from imitation is not going to add value to your life. On the contrary, you may find out that it will only create expenses and headaches. Shrug your shoulders at unrealistic advice and ignore insincere invitations. Happiness calls for stable purpose and continuous action. Choose the way of reason.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by racEcar_yayas under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us


For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books

The Philosophy of Builders

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The best way to accelerate your personal development

You cannot drive a car without traffic signs, a map, or at the very least, knowing where you want to go. A sense of direction allows man to make decisions, assess costs, trade off alternatives, and maintain his keep of mind in all circumstances.

Protect your motivation

Most people are aware of the importance of setting goals in life, but in order to avoid losing motivation, it is crucial to keep your objectives visible to yourself. There are four reasons for that:

First, long-term thinking requires sustained effort: Without reflection and concentration, human life tends to decay into a succession of events without order nor enjoyment. 


Using your days wisely and making the best of your life is impossible without long-term thinking. Keeping your major objectives in front of your eyes enables you to steer out of time-wasters and keep your serenity.

The invisible resource


Second, the most scarce resource is invisible: Time continues to flow whether we have a great life or not. In the end, our days will be gone anyway. The question is how to live them in the best possible way without stress, worry, and irritation.


Happiness is never automatic. It requires thinking, goals, action, and progress. Keeping your dreams visible makes you aware of the passage of time and prompts you to move in your chosen direction.

Beware of random noise 


Third, self-confidence wins over random noise: Daily events are meaningless without perspective. In addition, the random noise of nihilism and nonsense tends to discourage clear thinking. Maintaining a list of your goals in a visible place helps you ignore the noise of the world. 

Knowing where you are going is a fundamental element of self-confidence. It allows you to discard what cannot work and persist in what will. Only by ignoring noise can we put our energies to good use.

Perfect alignment


Fourth, steady progress is a major achievement: The term success is frequently attributed only to spectacular victories. On the other hand, one should never forget that, behind every major achievement, there are years of preparation and relentless action. 

Place the list of your long-term goals where you can see them everyday. That is the best manner to remind yourself that something needs to be done right now in order to keep advancing towards your objectives. This is also the best way to accelerate your personal development.

You cannot reach your destination without a plan, a list of actions, and the will to correct mistakes as they happen. Long-term goals allow man to evaluate alternatives, discard wasteful undertakings, and learn from experience. 


Setting goals in life is essential, but without constant action, little will be achieved. Keeping your objectives present in your mind will enable you to align your present reality with your future achievements.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by Noël Zia Lee under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us 


For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books


When everything fails, try this

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Quick relief for those who are about to quit

Rational living, rational working
by John Vespasian

Are you trying to live rationally and facing all kinds of difficulties? How do you deal with people who won't listen to logical arguments? How should you react to situations of massive unfairness?
 

This book provides practical advice on how to live rationally and maximize your chances of happiness in every situation. Amongst others, it will show you how to minimize stress and maintain your peace of mind, benefit from the advantages of non-linear thinking, avoid short-sighted decisions, and increase your resilience during times of adversity.
 

Each chapter contains real-life examples of individuals who have used reason to surmount obstacles, solve personal problems, and recover from setbacks. The ideas presented in this book will help you make better decisions, increase your effectiveness, and enjoy the benefits of rational living. 


Introduction

Chapter 1. Become conscious of your uniqueness

A method for building an unshakable self-confidence
Overcome weaknesses in one area by strengths in others
Let go of distractions and focus on your unique talents
The man who taught me how to make the best of setbacks
It is time to discard meaningless comparisons
Why do millions of people waste their talents?


Chapter 2. Dream in decades, but live by days

Get rid of work overload and improve your results
The type of deadlines that generate little stress
Quick relief for those who are about to quit
The right way to deal with adversity
Before you make a rash move, read this
A proven solution to a critical problem

 

Chapter 3. Understand that most people won't understand
Are you afraid of rejection and failure?
The most effective method for overcoming self-doubt
Warning: irrational motivation can wipe you out
Do not trust inaccurate interpretations
When the wrong choice turns out to be right
Making difficult decisions with as little risk as possible

 

Chapter 4. Look for healing in nature
Can you maintain your good habits in difficult times?
Three inexpensive remedies for everyday complaints
How emotional stability helps you lead a good life
Practical steps to reduce harmful stress
Do you want to become a centenarian?
The fountain of youth has already been discovered

 

Chapter 5. Call things by their names
Two thieves that are stealing your life away
How to become immune to manipulation
Exotic explanations are seldom true
A powerful idea that has brought relief to many
Seven types of irrational behaviour to stay away from
The courage to keep asking questions

 

Chapter 6. Find serenity in silent places
Three mistakes that can destroy your peace of mind
The dire consequences of short-sighted behaviour
How an overstressed celebrity regained his serenity
People who are free of anxiety do this every day
An ancient formula for tranquillity in times of turmoil
Stay away from theories that don't work

 

Chapter 7. Embrace non-linear thinking
A widespread delusion that can kill your motivation
Four practical lessons you can learn from monks
The opportunities that lie behind disruptive events
How to produce good results with few resources
A non-linear approach is often the only one that works
For those who believe that they have no opportunities

 

Chapter 8. Stay away from evil people
The personal benefits of a peaceful philosophy
Individuals seldom change in any fundamental way
Avoid recklessness and you'll have a brighter future
Nobody can explain colours to the blind
Withdrawal is a mighty weapon
A true story that showed me how to stay safe

 

Chapter 9. Make resilience your biggest strength
Ignore fairy tales and you will do well
How rationality reinforces your strengths
If you want to sail far, keep the wind on your back
Enjoy the luxuries of a simple lifestyle
Is the best option so close to you that you cannot see it?
Avoid the temptation to exaggerate your problems

 

Conclusions  
Recommended reading


Saturday, 27 June 2015

Realism is the rule of thumb for sustained personal growth

Most business books revolve around a single idea that is presented from different angles. The same goes for many scientific essays, which tend to be longer, but contain few new ideas. Occasionally, hundreds of pages will be devoted to justifying points which readers might find self-evident.

A call for realism

Darwin's volume on the origin of species was the result of ten years of study and reflection. He actually wrote several outlines before he got down to drafting the book itself. The text, which you will need hours to read, contains dozens of elaborate descriptions and examples. Nonetheless, the message of the book can be summarized on a single page.

Yet, my point is not about the importance of brevity, but of realism. There is a reason why apparently simple ideas require a long exposition. Authors of those books are, for the most part, neither foolish nor focused on selling overblown banalities. Certainly, that was not the case of Charles Darwin.

Don't ignore the truth


A high dose of realism is the rationale for the extensive treatment of subjects. On the same grounds, engineers take safety margins when they design a new bridge, a ship, or an aeroplane. The truth known by every conscientious professional is that failure lurks around every corner. For sculptors, poets, and performers of all sorts, failure is called rejection. If you try to ignore the statistical truth, you will create plenty of stress, anxiety, worry, and depression for yourself.

Romantic movies paint situations where chance aligns all factors for success. A happy end ensues as protagonists collect their dues without effort and against all odds. Fiction of the worst kind renders credibility to fantasy, leading readers to feel dejected by reality and disappointed by life. This is something that you want to avoid.

You will much better off if you face obstacles using reason and experience as your allies. This is what skilled entrepreneurs do. Whether you take up playing golf or acting, you'd better prepare yourself for strenuous practice and open criticism.


The two elements you need

In difficult undertakings, your efforts might remain only moderately effective for an extended period of time and rightly so. Even if you are trying to communicate straightforward truths, you should beware of the fact that even simple ideas are going to be misunderstood by many people. TV advertisers address their commercials to millions of people, knowing that the great majority are not going to buy their products.

The rule of thumb for personal growth is that most things won't work, and that most attempts won't result in success. Rejection and miscommunication are not exceptions, but everyday events. Face negative results, and use wisdom to deal with them. Great ambitions are never easily accomplished. Achieving them requires effort and patience. Those are the two elements you need. Take both of them, and move on.


Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by Duchamp under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us



For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books

Rationality is the Way to Happiness

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Why rational decisions require a price reference

"Inquiring about prices is sinful," wrote scholar Hugh of St. Victor in the year 1130 C.E., "since it only serves to aid the vice of avarice." The medieval mind saw the world as immobile and human beings as passive spectators. Life was something that happened to you. Silent acceptance was regarded as a virtue.

A lesson well learned

Nine centuries have gone by. The universe has not changed, but we have erred and learned. In our age, looking up prices occupies a good part of our time. We cut off coupons from newspapers and compare discounts from car dealers. We listen to commercials on the radio and participate in auction sales.

Our activities have taken a new course, but to a certain extent, our thinking remains anchored in the Middle Ages. Reflect for a minute and count the people you know who actively pursue price information in their endeavours and act consistently on that knowledge.

How long is your list of those who look around and compare offers? What percentage of men and women carefully assess cost before making decisions? If you write down names, chances are that they will be few, since whole segments of the population prefer to ignore price information. Let me name just three examples.

  • First, children are foreign to cost considerations, since their priority is to have everything right now, irrespective of the price. Instilling sound economic judgement should be one of the objectives of a good education. Psychological growth demands perception of the bond between effort and reward.

  • Second, smokers must be also excluded from any list of cost-conscious individuals. How many of them are unaware of their increased health risks? Anyone who watches television or reads newspapers can hardly claim ignorance of the massive cost of cancer treatment.

  • Third, complainers spend their days deploring problems which, on closer examination, could have been easily avoided by looking at the market. Depressed prices or exaggerated valuations do not prompt rational men to lamentation, but to cautious action. 

Where wisdom begins

Acquiring consciousness of prices is part of becoming an adult. Irrationality makes people despondent, leading them to sell their property at reduced prices. Obsession deprives men of understanding, inducing them to pay too much for fashion. Price ignorance inevitably leads to stress and anxiety.

Fear cannot justify foolishness. Conformity cannot excuse willingness to delude ourselves or the world. Ignorance is unacceptable when knowledge is freely available. Wisdom begins with consciousness of our environment. For products, services, or convictions, there cannot be valid advice without reference to price.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by dalbera under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us


For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books

The 10 Principles of Rational Living