Saturday, 12 September 2009

Detecting and avoiding common lies about happiness (Part 1 of 2)


They say that misery loves company, but that phenomenon is nothing compared to a liar's need of an audience. Misrepresentation is a public performance and falsehood craves for accomplices. Deceit cannot exist in isolation. Abusing good faith requires a mask of honesty to gain other people's confidence and lead them to trust impossible promises.

Amongst all lies told by human beings, those about happiness belong to the most common. Few want to lose face by admitting that they don't have a clue which way to go with their life. Some cultures instil into men's minds that it is shameful to express their pain in public. Day after day, pictures published by the media show the ever-present smiles of celebrities. No wonder that many individuals feel heavily pressured into faking happiness, or at least, contentment.

We don't possess reliable data about people's level of enjoyment of their life and the particular aspects that they would like to change. On several occasions, researchers have asked citizens of different countries if they consider themselves fulfilled and happy. Since the questions were answered in a purely subjective manner, the results of such surveys tend to place surprising locations at the top of the world happiness list. Arbitrary replies cannot provide us guidance to improve our personal effectiveness.

The difficulty of the matter should not prevent us from detecting the most obvious lies. Frequently, such falsehoods are linked to blinding conflicts of interest. Creating an aura of happiness helps abuse the credibility of those who are looking for answers to their pressing problems. In those cases, the liar, instead of providing help, simply aims at extracting money or favours from his audience.

How often do we read in newspapers about dishonest leaders who portray an image of beatific happiness for the sole purpose of inducing donations from followers? The permanent smile of an exploiter serves only to disarm his victims and undermine their psychological resistance. For the same reason, many ruthless abusers are experts at faking cheerfulness, concern, and inspiration.

Luckily, there exist effective ways to detect such lies and protect ourselves. The fundamental principle is logic, since every falsehood falls apart when the audience wakes up to see the inconsistency between action and speech. In the long-term, reality always triumphs over misrepresentation. What we need is to develop our ability to make that victory immediate and overwhelming.

Never trust anyone who pretends that his mind has the power to prevail over the world and control the realms of perception and emotion. No human being possesses those abilities, no matter how brilliant, dedicated, or charismatic such person may be. Our intelligence can seize facts and integrate them into principles, but it cannot magically transform a catastrophe into a success story.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

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

Detecting and avoiding common lies about happiness (Part 1 of 2)


They say that misery loves company, but that phenomenon is nothing compared to a liar's need of an audience. Misrepresentation is a public performance and falsehood craves for accomplices. Deceit cannot exist in isolation. Abusing good faith requires a mask of honesty to gain other people's confidence and lead them to trust impossible promises.

Amongst all lies told by human beings, those about happiness belong to the most common. Few want to lose face by admitting that they don't have a clue which way to go with their life. Some cultures instil into men's minds that it is shameful to express their pain in public. Day after day, pictures published by the media show the ever-present smiles of celebrities. No wonder that many individuals feel heavily pressured into faking happiness, or at least, contentment.

We don't possess reliable data about people's level of enjoyment of their life and the particular aspects that they would like to change. On several occasions, researchers have asked citizens of different countries if they consider themselves fulfilled and happy. Since the questions were answered in a purely subjective manner, the results of such surveys tend to place surprising locations at the top of the world happiness list. Arbitrary replies cannot provide us guidance to improve our personal effectiveness.

The difficulty of the matter should not prevent us from detecting the most obvious lies. Frequently, such falsehoods are linked to blinding conflicts of interest. Creating an aura of happiness helps abuse the credibility of those who are looking for answers to their pressing problems. In those cases, the liar, instead of providing help, simply aims at extracting money or favours from his audience.

How often do we read in newspapers about dishonest leaders who portray an image of beatific happiness for the sole purpose of inducing donations from followers? The permanent smile of an exploiter serves only to disarm his victims and undermine their psychological resistance. For the same reason, many ruthless abusers are experts at faking cheerfulness, concern, and inspiration.

Luckily, there exist effective ways to detect such lies and protect ourselves. The fundamental principle is logic, since every falsehood falls apart when the audience wakes up to see the inconsistency between action and speech. In the long-term, reality always triumphs over misrepresentation. What we need is to develop our ability to make that victory immediate and overwhelming.

Never trust anyone who pretends that his mind has the power to prevail over the world and control the realms of perception and emotion. No human being possesses those abilities, no matter how brilliant, dedicated, or charismatic such person may be. Our intelligence can seize facts and integrate them into principles, but it cannot magically transform a catastrophe into a success story.

To be continued in Part 2

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

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

Ten lessons from Ancient Rome


The great period of Roman peace and prosperity lasted barely two centuries, until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 A.D. Nevertheless, the physical and intellectual assets accumulated during that period have allowed Roman civilization to exert its influence for two thousand years.

Principles of success are eternal. Teachings of the past should never be forgotten. We don't need to spend our time making mistakes that we can easily avoid by paying attention to History. What can we learn from the best years of Ancient Rome? This list contains my ten favourite lessons:
  1. Entrepreneurship is the basis for creating wealth in society.
  2. Expansion projects are infinite, but the available capital is always limited.
  3. There are many different ways to finance a venture.
  4. Trade opens the door to tolerance and friendship.
  5. Violence only leads to more violence.
  6. Most people are open to new ideas that bring immediate benefit.
  7. Immigration enriches society, economically and culturally.
  8. Rigid structures are immensely vulnerable to change.
  9. The place where a man is born does not determine his future.
  10. Quality in the use of language reflects quality of thinking.
[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

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

Ten lessons from Ancient Rome


The great period of Roman peace and prosperity lasted barely two centuries, until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 A.D. Nevertheless, the physical and intellectual assets accumulated during that period have allowed Roman civilization to exert its influence for two thousand years.

Principles of success are eternal. Teachings of the past should never be forgotten. We don't need to spend our time making mistakes that we can easily avoid by paying attention to History. What can we learn from the best years of Ancient Rome? This list contains my ten favourite lessons:
  1. Entrepreneurship is the basis for creating wealth in society.
  2. Expansion projects are infinite, but the available capital is always limited.
  3. There are many different ways to finance a venture.
  4. Trade opens the door to tolerance and friendship.
  5. Violence only leads to more violence.
  6. Most people are open to new ideas that bring immediate benefit.
  7. Immigration enriches society, economically and culturally.
  8. Rigid structures are immensely vulnerable to change.
  9. The place where a man is born does not determine his future.
  10. Quality in the use of language reflects quality of thinking.
[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

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