Thursday, 31 May 2012

The main fear of those who want to become entrepreneurs and how to overcome it

Starting anything new entails risks and demands dedication. Whether you decide to take up playing piano, learning French, or building model aeroplanes, it is going to cost you money, time, and a fair amount of frustration due to inevitable beginner's mistakes.

Irrespective of the technical difficulties of your chosen endeavour, nothing can be compared to the level of commitment required to get a new business off the ground. The sheer number of different tasks that entrepreneurs must perform, from product development to marketing, is overwhelming.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship possesses three characteristics that render it uniquely inviting and reassuring. No other human activity offers these advantages to its practitioners. It is regrettable that many men and women graduate from their studies without knowledge of these facts:

1. UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES: If you spend some time doing research, you will find areas of enterprise that require little or no formal education and negligible start-up investment. By combining elements of your background, knowledge, and personal circumstances, you can come up with innovative business models. In today's global market, you can subcontract most routine tasks and concentrate on what you do best.

2. UNLIMITED SCOPE: While many areas of human action impose strict rules to be followed, entrepreneurs remain free to choose their path. North or south, right or left, the business owner can follow his intuition without need to ask for permission. His only arbiters are his cash flow and his customers' satisfaction. Each entrepreneur determines his own speed and how he will break the barriers to his growth.

3. UNLIMITED LEARNING: Business is the ideal field for the active mind. No discipline is foreign to the committed entrepreneur. The man who manages his own enterprise is a practical philosopher and a street intellectual. Entrepreneurs' tolerance of mistakes comes from their experience of dealing with all kinds of people. Creativity and resiliency are skills that entrepreneurs develop by facing daily challenges.

If the great potential of entrepreneurship is so well established, what explains that it is only able to attract a small part of the population? There is one reason, one major obstacle that prevents many from crossing the line. You can name it marketing, distribution, income generation, or simply sales.

The fear of being unable to achieve enough sales is what blocks 99% of those who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. Other obstacles pale in comparison to this one. If you succeed in getting over this initial hurdle, chances are that your business will be able to face whatever problems might come your way.

Compared with previous centuries, our digital era has not essentially changed the answer to the sales question. In the field of commerce, like in any other area of life, action is the best antidote against paralysing fear. 


The solution is to start small, try different things, see what works and what doesn't. Learn from mistakes, don't be discouraged, and ignore malevolent criticism. Take limited risks, follow market signals, be persistent, and you will eventually get it right.

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

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

The main fear of those who want to become entrepreneurs and how to overcome it

Starting anything new entails risks and demands dedication. Whether you decide to take up playing piano, learning French, or building model aeroplanes, it is going to cost you money, time, and a fair amount of frustration due to inevitable beginner's mistakes.

Irrespective of the technical difficulties of your chosen endeavour, nothing can be compared to the level of commitment required to get a new business off the ground. The sheer number of different tasks that entrepreneurs must perform, from product development to marketing, is overwhelming.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship possesses three characteristics that render it uniquely inviting and reassuring. No other human activity offers these advantages to its practitioners. It is regrettable that many men and women graduate from their studies without knowledge of these facts:

1. UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES: If you spend some time doing research, you will find areas of enterprise that require little or no formal education and negligible start-up investment. By combining elements of your background, knowledge, and personal circumstances, you can come up with innovative business models. In today's global market, you can subcontract most routine tasks and concentrate on what you do best.

2. UNLIMITED SCOPE: While many areas of human action impose strict rules to be followed, entrepreneurs remain free to choose their path. North or south, right or left, the business owner can follow his intuition without need to ask for permission. His only arbiters are his cash flow and his customers' satisfaction. Each entrepreneur determines his own speed and how he will break the barriers to his growth.

3. UNLIMITED LEARNING: Business is the ideal field for the active mind. No discipline is foreign to the committed entrepreneur. The man who manages his own enterprise is a practical philosopher and a street intellectual. Entrepreneurs' tolerance of mistakes comes from their experience of dealing with all kinds of people. Creativity and resiliency are skills that entrepreneurs develop by facing daily challenges.

If the great potential of entrepreneurship is so well established, what explains that it is only able to attract a small part of the population? There is one reason, one major obstacle that prevents many from crossing the line. You can name it marketing, distribution, income generation, or simply sales.

The fear of being unable to achieve enough sales is what blocks 99% of those who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. Other obstacles pale in comparison to this one. If you succeed in getting over this initial hurdle, chances are that your business will be able to face whatever problems might come your way.

Compared with previous centuries, our digital era has not essentially changed the answer to the sales question. In the field of commerce, like in any other area of life, action is the best antidote against paralysing fear. 


The solution is to start small, try different things, see what works and what doesn't. Learn from mistakes, don't be discouraged, and ignore malevolent criticism. Take limited risks, follow market signals, be persistent, and you will eventually get it right.

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

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

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Story of Krishna and the black sheep

Change makes us reassess our life and sharpen our vision. Surprises test our principles and determination. Setbacks make us wonder if our efforts are worth anything. The stronger our fear of uncertainty, the more desperate our need to cling to the past.

Such were the questions that occupied Krishna's mind one summer morning, when he was meditating under a banyan tree near the river. He heard steps behind his back and the voice of Nadu interrupted his thoughts. "Long live the wise, Krishna," saluted Nadu.

Krishna opened his eyes and saw that Nadu was carrying a black sheep in his arms. When Nadu set the sheep on the ground, the animal stared briefly at Krishna, found him uninteresting, turned around, and began to drink water from the river.

"My father is worried and has sent me to ask for your advice," explained Nadu, pointing at the black sheep. "We don't know how this has happened and we fear for the other sheep." The animal had just started to eat some grass and looked perfectly healthy.

"Monday morning, we walked out of the house and we found this black sheep standing in the middle of our herd." Nadu made a small pause. "Of course, we had heard stories about black sheep, but we thought that they didn't exist."

Krishna stood up, walked up to the animal, and caressed its head. "At the beginning, we didn't give it much importance," continued Nadu, "but the next day, strange things began to happen, like in the stories that we had heard."

The animal lifted its head and began to ruminate contentedly the grass that it had just eaten. "Does it bellow at dawn, while other sheep are asleep?" inquired Krishna, "does it refuse to return home in the evening, run away at the smallest opportunity and encourage the others to join it?"

Surprised, Nadu confirmed all of Krishna's points. He had not expected such focused questions. How come that Krishna knew so much about black sheep?
Nadu was terrified of the idea that the other sheep in the herd might also become black.

"Tell me, Nadu," continued Krishna, "is it not true that sheep spend their lives in slumber, never try to run away, and always follow the herd without delay?" Nadu nodded, wondering where Krishna was heading with his questions.

At that moment, the black sheep turned to Nadu and stared at him impatiently, as though it was wondering why Nadu was so slow in drawing the obvious conclusion. A long silence ensued before Krishna spoke again. "The truth is, Nadu, that this animal is not a sheep."

Nadu, instead of being shocked by the news, took the whole matter rather philosophically. He immediately accepted Krishna's offer to relieve him of the animal, ran back to the farmhouse, and informed his father that the problem was solved once and for all.

During the next hours, Krishna traversed the forest, followed closely by the animal. In the afternoon, they climbed a mountain and reached a hidden valley, where hundreds of similar black creatures were placidly eating grass and having a great time.

When the newcomer joined the others, it was warmly welcomed. While the sun went down, Krishna observed the animals play. He didn't understand them and he didn't know where they came from, but he was absolutely sure of one thing. Those were not sheep.


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

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

Story of Krishna and the black sheep

Change makes us reassess our life and sharpen our vision. Surprises test our principles and determination. Setbacks make us wonder if our efforts are worth anything. The stronger our fear of uncertainty, the more desperate our need to cling to the past.

Such were the questions that occupied Krishna's mind one summer morning, when he was meditating under a banyan tree near the river. He heard steps behind his back and the voice of Nadu interrupted his thoughts. "Long live the wise, Krishna," saluted Nadu.

Krishna opened his eyes and saw that Nadu was carrying a black sheep in his arms. When Nadu set the sheep on the ground, the animal stared briefly at Krishna, found him uninteresting, turned around, and began to drink water from the river.

"My father is worried and has sent me to ask for your advice," explained Nadu, pointing at the black sheep. "We don't know how this has happened and we fear for the other sheep." The animal had just started to eat some grass and looked perfectly healthy.

"Monday morning, we walked out of the house and we found this black sheep standing in the middle of our herd." Nadu made a small pause. "Of course, we had heard stories about black sheep, but we thought that they didn't exist."

Krishna stood up, walked up to the animal, and caressed its head. "At the beginning, we didn't give it much importance," continued Nadu, "but the next day, strange things began to happen, like in the stories that we had heard."

The animal lifted its head and began to ruminate contentedly the grass that it had just eaten. "Does it bellow at dawn, while other sheep are asleep?" inquired Krishna, "does it refuse to return home in the evening, run away at the smallest opportunity and encourage the others to join it?"

Surprised, Nadu confirmed all of Krishna's points. He had not expected such focused questions. How come that Krishna knew so much about black sheep?
Nadu was terrified of the idea that the other sheep in the herd might also become black.

"Tell me, Nadu," continued Krishna, "is it not true that sheep spend their lives in slumber, never try to run away, and always follow the herd without delay?" Nadu nodded, wondering where Krishna was heading with his questions.

At that moment, the black sheep turned to Nadu and stared at him impatiently, as though it was wondering why Nadu was so slow in drawing the obvious conclusion. A long silence ensued before Krishna spoke again. "The truth is, Nadu, that this animal is not a sheep."

Nadu, instead of being shocked by the news, took the whole matter rather philosophically. He immediately accepted Krishna's offer to relieve him of the animal, ran back to the farmhouse, and informed his father that the problem was solved once and for all.

During the next hours, Krishna traversed the forest, followed closely by the animal. In the afternoon, they climbed a mountain and reached a hidden valley, where hundreds of similar black creatures were placidly eating grass and having a great time.

When the newcomer joined the others, it was warmly welcomed. While the sun went down, Krishna observed the animals play. He didn't understand them and he didn't know where they came from, but he was absolutely sure of one thing. Those were not sheep.


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

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

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Why most great victories are won at the margin

There is no deeper disappointment in life than seeing your fundamental convictions contradicted by unexpected events. When facts turn upside down what you have believed all your life, disorientation ensues. In those situation, doubts spread like wildfire across your philosophy, leading you to wonder if your other ideas are equally false.

How is it possible that you have been wrong all this time? Have you perhaps misunderstood the teachings of antiquity? Does modern life require giving up all traditions, values, and principles of previous eras? To whom can you turn to seek confirmation, or at the very least, consolation?

Nowadays, millions of people are asking these and similar questions. The last decades have been particularly hard on those who had placed their trust on prudence and loyalty. The issue is whether thrift and careful investment have lost their sense and purpose.

Adversity and misfortune prompt victims to question their beliefs. The spectacle of great financial losses incurred by conservative businessmen is not edifying. In this context, it is perfectly fair to doubt your convictions. In a world that seems to reward chance rather than constancy, should one remain faithful to ethical rules?

Take heart and do not give up. Current events offer an incomplete picture of the story. Superficial and nonsensical ideas can only enjoy ephemeral popularity. The balance of time will soon regain its accuracy. Rational measurements will be restored.

Short-term defeat is just a temporary disturbance of the universal rule that links cause and effect. The principle of causality alone governs reality. None of us can escape it, ignore it, or contradict it. Correct principles remain uncontested through the ages. Essential ethical guidelines are meant to show us the way especially during difficult periods.

The law of causality, however, does not prevent connections between facts from working according to their own calendar. Consequences from past events can be wide-ranging. Sometimes, effects are only felt several years after their cause was initiated. The timing of History is seldom designed to fit our linking:

(a) An employee who has worked loyally for a company during several decades loses his job due to the economic recession and finds himself on the street. Was he wrong in devoting so much effort to his work? Instead of performing excellently, should he have done as little as possible in his job?

(b) A middle-aged manager who has been saving laboriously all his life now witnesses a stock market crash that devalues his assets in half. Was he mistaken in trying to secure his retirement? Rather than investing, should he have spent his income on frivolities?

(c) A loving wife who has dedicated her best years to care for his family is suddenly confronted with her husband's infidelity. Was she too naïve in trusting him? Should she become sceptical of truth in human relationships?

(d) A couple who lives frugally for decades in order to pay off their mortgage sees their home damaged by a flood. Instead of saving money every month, should they have spent as much as they earned?

No wonder that people feel overwhelmed, physically and psychologically, when they go through such circumstances. Unmitigated disaster can demolish our most cherished principles together with our hopes, savings, home, possessions, and social and family connections.

In the face of catastrophe, the only way to overcome doubt is to extend our range of vision. The law of cause and effect always works, even though its results may be slower than we wish. Great victories are always won at the margin, through consistent application of fundamental principles. Do not desert your convictions when short-term events turn against them.

No human story is exempt from trouble. This is why, given enough time, a sensible lifestyle always wins. Your long-term investment plans may suffer a setback, but their value shall be restored as soon as economic conditions return to normality. Your job may be lost in the business disruption caused by a recession, but you were right in trying to perform your best every day.

Do not question your good habits during bad times. Remain calm in the face of adversity and reaffirm your rational values. Recovery might be around the corner. Now it is no time to throw away your virtues. Learn to look beyond present disaster and figure out how to regain ground.

During a crisis, the best traits of your character become even more valuable. Honesty, frugality, and productivity ensure that you will be able to seize the next opportunity to get back on your feet. Stay alert and do not grow discouraged. Great victories are always won precisely at the moment when everything seems lost.

Linear thinking, so natural to our minds, is rarely accurate in seizing facts. Reality does not change at a steady pace. Prosperity seldom arrives at the moment we expect it. Success is the outcome of relentless, focused action carried out through the years.

Great victories are always won at the margin, by hanging on a little longer, by making an extra sale, and by saving an extra dollar. Virtues such as productivity and frugality allow us to enjoy life more intensely because they establish a permanent link between present desires and foreseeable rewards.


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

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

Why most great victories are won at the margin

There is no deeper disappointment in life than seeing your fundamental convictions contradicted by unexpected events. When facts turn upside down what you have believed all your life, disorientation ensues. In those situation, doubts spread like wildfire across your philosophy, leading you to wonder if your other ideas are equally false.

How is it possible that you have been wrong all this time? Have you perhaps misunderstood the teachings of antiquity? Does modern life require giving up all traditions, values, and principles of previous eras? To whom can you turn to seek confirmation, or at the very least, consolation?

Nowadays, millions of people are asking these and similar questions. The last decades have been particularly hard on those who had placed their trust on prudence and loyalty. The issue is whether thrift and careful investment have lost their sense and purpose.

Adversity and misfortune prompt victims to question their beliefs. The spectacle of great financial losses incurred by conservative businessmen is not edifying. In this context, it is perfectly fair to doubt your convictions. In a world that seems to reward chance rather than constancy, should one remain faithful to ethical rules?

Take heart and do not give up. Current events offer an incomplete picture of the story. Superficial and nonsensical ideas can only enjoy ephemeral popularity. The balance of time will soon regain its accuracy. Rational measurements will be restored.

Short-term defeat is just a temporary disturbance of the universal rule that links cause and effect. The principle of causality alone governs reality. None of us can escape it, ignore it, or contradict it. Correct principles remain uncontested through the ages. Essential ethical guidelines are meant to show us the way especially during difficult periods.

The law of causality, however, does not prevent connections between facts from working according to their own calendar. Consequences from past events can be wide-ranging. Sometimes, effects are only felt several years after their cause was initiated. The timing of History is seldom designed to fit our linking:

(a) An employee who has worked loyally for a company during several decades loses his job due to the economic recession and finds himself on the street. Was he wrong in devoting so much effort to his work? Instead of performing excellently, should he have done as little as possible in his job?

(b) A middle-aged manager who has been saving laboriously all his life now witnesses a stock market crash that devalues his assets in half. Was he mistaken in trying to secure his retirement? Rather than investing, should he have spent his income on frivolities?

(c) A loving wife who has dedicated her best years to care for his family is suddenly confronted with her husband's infidelity. Was she too naïve in trusting him? Should she become sceptical of truth in human relationships?

(d) A couple who lives frugally for decades in order to pay off their mortgage sees their home damaged by a flood. Instead of saving money every month, should they have spent as much as they earned?

No wonder that people feel overwhelmed, physically and psychologically, when they go through such circumstances. Unmitigated disaster can demolish our most cherished principles together with our hopes, savings, home, possessions, and social and family connections.

In the face of catastrophe, the only way to overcome doubt is to extend our range of vision. The law of cause and effect always works, even though its results may be slower than we wish. Great victories are always won at the margin, through consistent application of fundamental principles. Do not desert your convictions when short-term events turn against them.

No human story is exempt from trouble. This is why, given enough time, a sensible lifestyle always wins. Your long-term investment plans may suffer a setback, but their value shall be restored as soon as economic conditions return to normality. Your job may be lost in the business disruption caused by a recession, but you were right in trying to perform your best every day.

Do not question your good habits during bad times. Remain calm in the face of adversity and reaffirm your rational values. Recovery might be around the corner. Now it is no time to throw away your virtues. Learn to look beyond present disaster and figure out how to regain ground.

During a crisis, the best traits of your character become even more valuable. Honesty, frugality, and productivity ensure that you will be able to seize the next opportunity to get back on your feet. Stay alert and do not grow discouraged. Great victories are always won precisely at the moment when everything seems lost.

Linear thinking, so natural to our minds, is rarely accurate in seizing facts. Reality does not change at a steady pace. Prosperity seldom arrives at the moment we expect it. Success is the outcome of relentless, focused action carried out through the years.

Great victories are always won at the margin, by hanging on a little longer, by making an extra sale, and by saving an extra dollar. Virtues such as productivity and frugality allow us to enjoy life more intensely because they establish a permanent link between present desires and foreseeable rewards.


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

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

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Galen's recommendations for optimal health

When people talk about priorities, they usually refer to items on which they spend substantial sums of money. A comfortable car and a large house are on the top of the list of many individuals, together with a well-paying, stable, and interesting job.

Health is also important for the great majority of men and women. Products sold in supermarkets and convenience stores respond to this concern by promoting low-calories drinks, low-fat cookies, sugarless sweets, and cooking magazines.

Organic-food stores represent the last step in the evolution of this trend. Consumers want to buy the best produce, the purest bread, and fresh natural pastries. Even though the cost associated to those choices can be considerable in some cases, customers seem to be willing to pay for it.

The problem with spending additional money to consume so-called healthy products is that it does not seem to make a lot of difference. Those who devote more financial resources to purchasing sophisticated food and to joining health clubs are not necessarily the people who enjoy the best physical condition. Paradoxically, in the field of health, more investments do not always result in additional benefits.

Making health your first priority is an excellent choice that works better if you implement it as inexpensively as possible. Are you surprised? Does this sound illogical to you? Before you discard this theory, you might wish to check out longevity statistics around the world. Those who spend the most to preserve their health are not necessarily the people who live the longest.

The Ancient Greek physician Galen (circa 130 - 200 AD) recorded many interesting ideas on this subject, which was later expanded by other medics in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Although many centuries have passed, many discoveries of antiquity are still adhered to by modern medicine.

Galen spent his youth learning about sickness and treatments before he moved to Rome in the year 162. He has gone down into History as much for his medical discoveries as for his tremendous output as a writer. Even though a great part of Galen's work has been lost, what remains fills more than 20 volumes.

His aphorisms, which condense medical truths in short sentences, reflect fundamental aspects of physical and mental health. One of the threads that runs through his writings is the search of simplicity. His advocacy of straightforward methods to improve man's well-being contrasted with the semi-magical medicine that was still being practised by most of his contemporaries.

Galen maintained that health and philosophy are closely connected. As a consequence, a man who wishes to maintain his vitality will do well to act prudently and respect ethical principles. Galen's four prescriptions for preserving health do not demand large financial resources and can be followed by most individuals. Here is a summary of his four fundamental precepts:

[1] Maintain a balanced diet: At the time of Galen's writings, the biochemical properties of vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered. Nevertheless, what he had learned from other physicians and his own observations led him to recommend vegetables, fruits, and herbs on many occasions. Nowadays, those are items that most people can afford to purchase without making extraordinary efforts.

Ancient medicine believed that each element in the universe had a purpose. This conviction led Galen to experiment with different dietary treatments in response to sickness. His goal was to find the right combination of elements that fulfilled the purpose of health recovery. A balanced, prudent diet was also advocated in the Middle Ages by Maimonides, a famous physician who was familiar with Galen's work.

[2] Take up moderate exercise: While modern times favour body building and other forms of muscle training, Galen was an advocate of moderation. In his own life, he gave example of this precept by avoiding strenuous assignments. When he was offered a post of physician in the Roman army marching against the barbarians in Northern Europe, he declined and stayed in Rome.

One of Galen's aphorisms says that sickness caused by excessive strain should be cured by rest. In this sense, the inordinate professional stress that many people endure in our age should not be exacerbated by further tensions in their private life.

Spending time with friends, cultivating hobbies, and enjoying art will do more to re-establish balance in your life than watching television or practising demanding sports. Galen also recommended walking as a beneficial form of exercise.

[3] Practise good hygiene: Even though bacteria and viruses had not yet been discovered in antiquity, Galen's books show that he was conscious of the major role that external influences play in human health. The purpose of medicine, he wrote, was to re-establish the patient's health in relation to his environment, taking also the seasons into account.

Galen's early training as physician took place in Greece, which at that time comprised part of the Middle East. Ancient Greeks considered thermal baths salutary and those attracted far-away visitors seeking to cure physical or mental illness.

In those days, a journey to a renowned thermal location involved disproportionately high costs that few individuals could afford. Luckily, modern plumbing, shampoo, and tooth brushes now allow practically everybody to enjoy excellent levels of hygiene inexpensively.

[4] Adopt preventive measures against health problems: The need to preserve the natural limits of life is a theme that permeates Galen's books. The best way to maintain our health, he wrote, is to adopt preventive measures to counterbalance excesses.

He warned against lack of moderation and advocated measures against exaggerated eating as well as against insufficient food intake. Similarly, he advised to avoid excessive immobility and immoderate exercise. The purpose of prevention should be to maintain the natural balance in all areas of our lives.

Galen's principles emphasize the importance of preserving health at the same time as the need to do it in a simple and straightforward manner. By all means, do elevate health to your first priority, but make it a cheap and workable one. Your goal should be to develop effective habits that maintain your vitality with minimum effort and expense.


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

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

Galen's recommendations for optimal health

When people talk about priorities, they usually refer to items on which they spend substantial sums of money. A comfortable car and a large house are on the top of the list of many individuals, together with a well-paying, stable, and interesting job.

Health is also important for the great majority of men and women. Products sold in supermarkets and convenience stores respond to this concern by promoting low-calories drinks, low-fat cookies, sugarless sweets, and cooking magazines.

Organic-food stores represent the last step in the evolution of this trend. Consumers want to buy the best produce, the purest bread, and fresh natural pastries. Even though the cost associated to those choices can be considerable in some cases, customers seem to be willing to pay for it.

The problem with spending additional money to consume so-called healthy products is that it does not seem to make a lot of difference. Those who devote more financial resources to purchasing sophisticated food and to joining health clubs are not necessarily the people who enjoy the best physical condition. Paradoxically, in the field of health, more investments do not always result in additional benefits.

Making health your first priority is an excellent choice that works better if you implement it as inexpensively as possible. Are you surprised? Does this sound illogical to you? Before you discard this theory, you might wish to check out longevity statistics around the world. Those who spend the most to preserve their health are not necessarily the people who live the longest.

The Ancient Greek physician Galen (circa 130 - 200 AD) recorded many interesting ideas on this subject, which was later expanded by other medics in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Although many centuries have passed, many discoveries of antiquity are still adhered to by modern medicine.

Galen spent his youth learning about sickness and treatments before he moved to Rome in the year 162. He has gone down into History as much for his medical discoveries as for his tremendous output as a writer. Even though a great part of Galen's work has been lost, what remains fills more than 20 volumes.

His aphorisms, which condense medical truths in short sentences, reflect fundamental aspects of physical and mental health. One of the threads that runs through his writings is the search of simplicity. His advocacy of straightforward methods to improve man's well-being contrasted with the semi-magical medicine that was still being practised by most of his contemporaries.

Galen maintained that health and philosophy are closely connected. As a consequence, a man who wishes to maintain his vitality will do well to act prudently and respect ethical principles. Galen's four prescriptions for preserving health do not demand large financial resources and can be followed by most individuals. Here is a summary of his four fundamental precepts:

[1] Maintain a balanced diet: At the time of Galen's writings, the biochemical properties of vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered. Nevertheless, what he had learned from other physicians and his own observations led him to recommend vegetables, fruits, and herbs on many occasions. Nowadays, those are items that most people can afford to purchase without making extraordinary efforts.

Ancient medicine believed that each element in the universe had a purpose. This conviction led Galen to experiment with different dietary treatments in response to sickness. His goal was to find the right combination of elements that fulfilled the purpose of health recovery. A balanced, prudent diet was also advocated in the Middle Ages by Maimonides, a famous physician who was familiar with Galen's work.

[2] Take up moderate exercise: While modern times favour body building and other forms of muscle training, Galen was an advocate of moderation. In his own life, he gave example of this precept by avoiding strenuous assignments. When he was offered a post of physician in the Roman army marching against the barbarians in Northern Europe, he declined and stayed in Rome.

One of Galen's aphorisms says that sickness caused by excessive strain should be cured by rest. In this sense, the inordinate professional stress that many people endure in our age should not be exacerbated by further tensions in their private life.

Spending time with friends, cultivating hobbies, and enjoying art will do more to re-establish balance in your life than watching television or practising demanding sports. Galen also recommended walking as a beneficial form of exercise.

[3] Practise good hygiene: Even though bacteria and viruses had not yet been discovered in antiquity, Galen's books show that he was conscious of the major role that external influences play in human health. The purpose of medicine, he wrote, was to re-establish the patient's health in relation to his environment, taking also the seasons into account.

Galen's early training as physician took place in Greece, which at that time comprised part of the Middle East. Ancient Greeks considered thermal baths salutary and those attracted far-away visitors seeking to cure physical or mental illness.

In those days, a journey to a renowned thermal location involved disproportionately high costs that few individuals could afford. Luckily, modern plumbing, shampoo, and tooth brushes now allow practically everybody to enjoy excellent levels of hygiene inexpensively.

[4] Adopt preventive measures against health problems: The need to preserve the natural limits of life is a theme that permeates Galen's books. The best way to maintain our health, he wrote, is to adopt preventive measures to counterbalance excesses.

He warned against lack of moderation and advocated measures against exaggerated eating as well as against insufficient food intake. Similarly, he advised to avoid excessive immobility and immoderate exercise. The purpose of prevention should be to maintain the natural balance in all areas of our lives.

Galen's principles emphasize the importance of preserving health at the same time as the need to do it in a simple and straightforward manner. By all means, do elevate health to your first priority, but make it a cheap and workable one. Your goal should be to develop effective habits that maintain your vitality with minimum effort and expense.


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

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

Friday, 25 May 2012

The truth cannot be delayed

Invisible, we are all invisible. Whoever comes to this village has no name and no past, or at least, none which he cares to remember. We have arrived here, coming from all directions. Each of us has a reason to escape or to hide. We all trade food, but many brew their own beer, not out of mistrust, but to keep part of their pride.

We are all aware that this respite won't last. If pursuers don't catch us, sickness will. If hunger doesn't put en end to our run, winter will. How many days have we got left? Every morning, the sky turns a little darker and the wind a little colder. Our days are numbered.


Two rabbits have been caught in the traps I set up yesterday. I will eat one myself and trade the other for dry food. "Cheese puts you through the winter," my mother used to say, "cheese and walnuts."


I see the group as soon as I enter the village, with two women in their midst. I stand still and contemplate them with suspicion. Who has allowed women to come here? Women bring trouble and, as it is now, we have more than enough.


With a rabbit in each hand, I walk up to the group and inspect the newcomers. The two women have long blond hair. One of them is just a girl. "We don't want women here," I tell them bluntly. "You have to leave."


"They have horses, Joshua," replies the shoemaker. The other men in the group nod in agreement. Horses are a strong argument. Horses are valuable. I walk past the women and examine the two horses.


The animals look starved and exhausted. Their hair is falling and their eyes are half-closed. "These two don't have long to live," I comment. The shoemaker shrugs his shoulders. "Neither do we," he counters.


I shake my head, turn around, and walk to my place. Idiots, I tell myself as I light the fire. Those horses will die and the women will stay. I skin one rabbit and set it to roast over the fire. Then I must have fallen sleep.


When I open my eyes, I see the girl standing in front of me. "Your rabbit was going to burn," she says, pointing at the fire. She has laid down the rabbit on a flat stone. The roasted meat smells good and I am hungry. The girl stares at me, but I don't say thank you.


"Will you take us with you, my mother and me?" she asks, as she watches me pick up the rabbit. I turn to her again, wondering what she is talking about. I don't want to share my meal with her. My reply comes automatically. "I am not going anywhere."


"The other men say that you are going to leave soon," she goes on resolutely. "They say that you are the only one who knows the way out." I know she is talking nonsense, but I am puzzled all the same. "Out of what?" I react.


The girl looks at the roasted rabbit and then at the fire. "Out of the winter," she explains. I hesitate long, but finally, I give her a leg of the rabbit. She thanks me and goes away to share it with her mother. I know I have been stupid. Later, the girl's words hunt my dreams all night.


The next day, the shoemaker walks to me. He is carrying a new pair of shoes. "I made these for you, Joshua," he says. The shoes are beautiful, of the kind I could not afford in a million years. "I know that you are leaving soon, Joshua," goes on the shoemaker. "When you leave, I want to go with you."


I refuse the shoes, but that doesn't help. Later, I must refuse cheese from another man. Then, a knife. They all say that they want to follow me out of the winter. I decide to put an end to this nonsense. In the evening, I walk to the two newcomers.


"Thanks for the rabbit yesterday," begins the older woman, when I stand still by their fire. Her long blond hair reflects the flames. "My daughter told me that you are planning to leave tomorrow." I look around angrily. In the shadows, I see the girl smile.


I catch two more rabbits the following morning. When I return to the village, I see that nobody has listened to me. They are all standing up together, with their possessions at their feet. Even the two squalid horses seem to have been awaiting me.


"We are ready," announces the shoemaker. I look at the two women and the men. Hunger and cold have made them lose their mind. My eyes catch those of the girl. She is smiling again. I have to tell them that we are not leaving. I have to tell them that I wouldn't know where to take them.


The shoemaker advances two steps and sets his right hand on my shoulder. "We are all ready to follow you, Joshua" he adds. "Without you, we would have stayed here and died." I open my mouth to tell them that we are all going to die here anyway, but I am unable to speak.


All ears are awaiting my words. All eyes are focused on me. I see hope in those eyes and also tears. The wind sends a shiver through my spine and the two rabbits feel heavy in my hands. These people need a real leader, I tell myself. They need someone who knows what to do and where to go. Someone who can show them the way.


Before I have a chance to speak, the girl mounts one of the horses. Then all the others pick up their bundles from the ground. The shoemaker thanks me again and asks me which way we are going. I see the girl on the horse look intently at the sky and then to the South.


The truth cannot be delayed. I must speak now and shatter their dream. I look at the shoemaker in the eyes and I see that he begins to doubt. The shoemaker's confidence in me is not based on solid grounds, I realize. I take note for the future that he is not to be trusted. "South," I tell them, "we are going South."

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

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

The truth cannot be delayed

Invisible, we are all invisible. Whoever comes to this village has no name and no past, or at least, none which he cares to remember. We have arrived here, coming from all directions. Each of us has a reason to escape or to hide. We all trade food, but many brew their own beer, not out of mistrust, but to keep part of their pride.

We are all aware that this respite won't last. If pursuers don't catch us, sickness will. If hunger doesn't put en end to our run, winter will. How many days have we got left? Every morning, the sky turns a little darker and the wind a little colder. Our days are numbered.


Two rabbits have been caught in the traps I set up yesterday. I will eat one myself and trade the other for dry food. "Cheese puts you through the winter," my mother used to say, "cheese and walnuts."


I see the group as soon as I enter the village, with two women in their midst. I stand still and contemplate them with suspicion. Who has allowed women to come here? Women bring trouble and, as it is now, we have more than enough.


With a rabbit in each hand, I walk up to the group and inspect the newcomers. The two women have long blond hair. One of them is just a girl. "We don't want women here," I tell them bluntly. "You have to leave."


"They have horses, Joshua," replies the shoemaker. The other men in the group nod in agreement. Horses are a strong argument. Horses are valuable. I walk past the women and examine the two horses.


The animals look starved and exhausted. Their hair is falling and their eyes are half-closed. "These two don't have long to live," I comment. The shoemaker shrugs his shoulders. "Neither do we," he counters.


I shake my head, turn around, and walk to my place. Idiots, I tell myself as I light the fire. Those horses will die and the women will stay. I skin one rabbit and set it to roast over the fire. Then I must have fallen sleep.


When I open my eyes, I see the girl standing in front of me. "Your rabbit was going to burn," she says, pointing at the fire. She has laid down the rabbit on a flat stone. The roasted meat smells good and I am hungry. The girl stares at me, but I don't say thank you.


"Will you take us with you, my mother and me?" she asks, as she watches me pick up the rabbit. I turn to her again, wondering what she is talking about. I don't want to share my meal with her. My reply comes automatically. "I am not going anywhere."


"The other men say that you are going to leave soon," she goes on resolutely. "They say that you are the only one who knows the way out." I know she is talking nonsense, but I am puzzled all the same. "Out of what?" I react.


The girl looks at the roasted rabbit and then at the fire. "Out of the winter," she explains. I hesitate long, but finally, I give her a leg of the rabbit. She thanks me and goes away to share it with her mother. I know I have been stupid. Later, the girl's words hunt my dreams all night.


The next day, the shoemaker walks to me. He is carrying a new pair of shoes. "I made these for you, Joshua," he says. The shoes are beautiful, of the kind I could not afford in a million years. "I know that you are leaving soon, Joshua," goes on the shoemaker. "When you leave, I want to go with you."


I refuse the shoes, but that doesn't help. Later, I must refuse cheese from another man. Then, a knife. They all say that they want to follow me out of the winter. I decide to put an end to this nonsense. In the evening, I walk to the two newcomers.


"Thanks for the rabbit yesterday," begins the older woman, when I stand still by their fire. Her long blond hair reflects the flames. "My daughter told me that you are planning to leave tomorrow." I look around angrily. In the shadows, I see the girl smile.


I catch two more rabbits the following morning. When I return to the village, I see that nobody has listened to me. They are all standing up together, with their possessions at their feet. Even the two squalid horses seem to have been awaiting me.


"We are ready," announces the shoemaker. I look at the two women and the men. Hunger and cold have made them lose their mind. My eyes catch those of the girl. She is smiling again. I have to tell them that we are not leaving. I have to tell them that I wouldn't know where to take them.


The shoemaker advances two steps and sets his right hand on my shoulder. "We are all ready to follow you, Joshua" he adds. "Without you, we would have stayed here and died." I open my mouth to tell them that we are all going to die here anyway, but I am unable to speak.


All ears are awaiting my words. All eyes are focused on me. I see hope in those eyes and also tears. The wind sends a shiver through my spine and the two rabbits feel heavy in my hands. These people need a real leader, I tell myself. They need someone who knows what to do and where to go. Someone who can show them the way.


Before I have a chance to speak, the girl mounts one of the horses. Then all the others pick up their bundles from the ground. The shoemaker thanks me again and asks me which way we are going. I see the girl on the horse look intently at the sky and then to the South.


The truth cannot be delayed. I must speak now and shatter their dream. I look at the shoemaker in the eyes and I see that he begins to doubt. The shoemaker's confidence in me is not based on solid grounds, I realize. I take note for the future that he is not to be trusted. "South," I tell them, "we are going South."

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

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

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The man who put labels on bricks

I had not seen the man on my way up to the mountain. Otherwise I would have remembered.

He had set up a wooden table next to the path that led to the Inca ruins, offering his merchandise to the tourists.


I stood still in front of the table and inspected the products with curiosity. The table was covered with red bricks. Old bricks, as far as I could tell.


I bent over and looked closer at the bricks, wondering what was so special about them. To me, they appeared to be normal red bricks, such as those that you would find on any construction site. I contemplated the man behind the table for a moment, trying to assess his age.


The brick salesman was in his late thirties or early forties and had an intelligent look about him. Nevertheless, it was obvious that the poor man had lost his mind. As I walked away, I shook my head, feeling sorry for him.


What could possibly have happened to him? How come that he had lost his capacity for reasoning? After walking a few steps, I decided to inquire about the cause of his lunacy. I returned to his table, only to see that he was putting labels on the bricks.


He would pick up a brick, examine it carefully, remove a sticker from a plastic sheet that he had laid on the table, and then he would place the sticker on the brick. Each sticker had a hand-written name on it.


While the man continued to place labels on the bricks, I picked one of them and read the word on its label. "Kon" it read. What on earth is Kon, I asked myself. I put the brick back on the table and picked up another one. This time, I found the word "Apu" written on it. Apu? What was that supposed to mean?


The man placed the labels calmly on the last bricks and turned to me. "Which one do you like best?" he asked. I hesitated before replying, since I did not want to hurt his feelings. Most likely, it was not his fault if he had lost his mind. "Kon is a good choice," he went on, "but if you allow me, I think that Apu would be the most suitable for you."


My reaction came instantly, as I was suspecting him of a hidden attack against my honour. "Why do you say so? What does Apu mean?" The man smiled at my incomprehension. "Kon is the Inca God of the Wind, the God who brings good weather," he explained. "And Apu is the God of the Mountains, the God who exercises his power through kindness and understanding."


I could not help feeling flattered by the man's words. I have always liked to portray myself as a kind person and I believe that once I even heard someone actually called me so. "But what's the point of setting labels on red bricks?" I countered, puzzled. I did my best to formulate my question in a way that did not sound insulting.


The man seemed not to remark the absurdity of the situation and replied in a matter-of-fact tone. ''The brick it's just a symbol," he indicated patiently. "Like bricks, human beings are all essentially the same, but like Gods, each individual is different. Each man's uniqueness lies in his calling."


I won't tell you how much I paid for the brick, but I think that the price was worth the story. Even years later, I still keep the red brick on my living room table. Every visitor that has come to my home has picked up the brick, read the label, and asked me what Apu means. "Apu," I always begin, "let me tell you about Apu."


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

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

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Three invaluable assets in difficult times

 Until the worst happens, we tend to consider ourselves immune to catastrophes. However, sooner or later, you may have to face a critical situation in your life. Sickness, loss of a job, a flood, a car accident, or poverty can happen to anyone.

Misfortune may knock on your door without warning. If it catches you unprepared, it will inflict you more damage than the absolutely necessary. When adversity takes the upper hand, you won't be able to prevent all negative consequences, but you should at least strive to minimize them.

How can you remain alert and detect danger before it grows to threatening proportions? What measures can you take to cut your losses and stabilize the situation? Which qualities should you cultivate to strengthen your forces and resources?

In difficult times, there are three assets that prove particularly valuable: psychological resilience, the ability to view problems in perspective, and the willingness to take continual action. If you fall off a ship into the water, those are precisely the sort of skills that will allow you to stay afloat, orient yourself towards the coast, and swim vigorously to attain safety.

None of those three assets can be acquired overnight. Those abilities can be neither borrowed nor purchased, only cultivated. Patience and persistence play a key role in developing self-reliance, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness. Strangely enough, the three qualities that enable you to react to threats quickly can only be acquired through sustained effort.

[1] Psychological resilience: Only a small percentage of individuals are highly resistant to irritation, discouragement, and anxiety. Self-reliance provides you with serenity, avoids foolish reactions, and multiplies your effectiveness. Fear and despair seldom affect self-confident people. What steps should you take to reinforce this quality?

[2] The ability to view problems in perspective: Sound philosophical convictions do not develop by chance. Those who possess a logical mind enjoy overwhelming advantages when they face trouble. Individuals who make rational decisions don't worry about short-term inconveniences. How can you increase your ability to view problems in perspective?

[3] The willingness to take continuous action: When a natural disaster occurs, injury and material losses paralyse large numbers of people. In contrast, other victims gather their remaining possessions and begin to fix the roof of their home immediately after the catastrophe. Individuals who have developed the habit of continuous action tend to overcome adversity faster. What can you do to strengthen this aspect of your character?

After suffering damage, your most urgent goal should be to stabilize your situation. If you lose your job, you don't want to lose your house too. If you catch the flu, you don't want it to turn into pneumonia. If you get a flat tyre while driving, you don't want to lose control of your car and crash against a wall.

Should you fall into a well, your immediate objective is not to drown. You know that you must attain this goal at all costs; other concerns become secondary or irrelevant. Your energies and senses align to ensure your survival. Your physical and mental resources concentrate on a single task to guarantee its accomplishment.

This must-do attitude
that makes you unstoppable is precisely what you need to cultivate your critical assets. Self-reliance, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness are the cardinal skills that will help you in times of adversity. None of them can be artificially implanted into your personality.

These skills can only be developed in progressive steps. You cannot improvise psychological resilience more than you can cook perfect crème glacee if you have never set foot in the kitchen.

You cannot magically learn to view problems in perspective more than you can drive a car if you've never sat before behind the wheel. When you are facing a major threat, you will only be able to react quickly if you are already used to taking initiative.

Enhancing your self-reliance
, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness is a long-term process. Those immaterial assets are worth more than physical wealth. If you possess them, prosperity will be within reach; if you don't, chances are that you will waste whatever wealth you may already have.

Do not be satisfied with trying just one method to attain your aim. Reading good material may increase your self-confidence, but so will taking risks, travelling overseas, public speaking, team work, sports, joining a social club, dancing, taking cooking classes, and many other activities.

What about acquiring thoughtfulness? Meditation and self-knowledge may be of help in this respect, but so will be lectures, work experience, learning how to write effectively, staying abreast of the latest news, and discussing with intelligent people.

The same principle applies to decisiveness. Your willingness to take continuous action can be cultivated not just by making to-do lists, but also by identifying your priorities, cutting losses, spreading your risks, having a back-up plan, and developing a support network before you need it.

When disaster hits, those three assets may prove invaluable to you. They will help you identify which actions are critical, stabilize a bad situation, and build a sound basis for improvement. Commit yourself to developing those qualities until they become second nature to you.


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

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

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The beneficial, workable, simple approach

Studies in different parts of the world have tried to identify the causes of extraordinary longevity. In Europe and Asia, certain villages, valleys, and islands are home to a large proportion of healthy octogenarians and nonagenarians. This is the case of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.

Medical research has identified the elements in local diet that help residents maintain an excellent health at an advanced age. Some factors, such as landscape and climate, are linked to specific areas; other determinants, those of a more general nature, can contribute positively to human vitality irrespective of geography.

It stands to reason that the driving factors of extraordinary longevity must correspond to those of excellent health. The issue is to identify elements that we can take up in our daily life without incurring disproportionate effort and expense.

Even if we possessed evidence that some exotic herb is the key to excellent health, such knowledge would be of little help to people who cannot afford to purchase that plant on a regular basis. What we need are ideas that are, at the same time, beneficial and workable.

The island of Sardinia, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is a favourite vacation destination for many Europeans. Its weather and landscape, however beautiful and pleasant, are not much different from other locations around the world. This factor alone renders the study of longevity in Sardinia particularly interesting.

Lessons drawn from the diet in Sardinia can be applied in other regions of the globe. This aspect is crucially important, since studies conducted in other areas of the world often link the enviable physical condition of youthful nonagenarians to herbs and plants that are unavailable to the populations of other countries.

Another remarkable outcome of the research carried out in Sardinia lies in the apparent simplicity of the formula. In contrast, if you have read any modern book on nutrition, you will have noted the extreme complexity of the advice it presents. Page after page are filled with long lists of recommendations and tables showing the specific dosage of each ingredient. Who can remember all that?

Like in business, success in health matters tends to depend on just a few factors. Minute instructions telling salesmen how to close a deal are useless in a commercial environment. Life is too fast for knowledge that cannot be summarized in a small number of consistent principles. The human mind is constructed to reduce knowledge to the essential and forget cumbersome details.

What are the few factors behind the excellent health of the elderly living in Sardinia? The conclusions of the research can be presented in five rules that are logical and easy to remember. These recommendations can be practised inexpensively by individuals in most countries of the world.

[1] Eat fresh food, above all vegetables and fruit: This truth may seem deceptively self-evident. In reality, few people make the effort to select fresh ingredients for their meals. The great majority of packaged food, whether intended for breakfast or dinner, does not contain fresh vegetables or fruit.

If you eat out frequently, you might go a long time without tasting fresh ingredients, except for the occasional salad. Can you figure out alternatives so that you consume more vegetables and fruit? What can you do to reduce your dependence on packaged food?

The reason why few people consume fresh food has to do more with inconvenience than expense. Eating fresh fruit and produce requires frequent visits to the supermarket, to the detriment of more pleasurable activities. Are you willing to make the necessary effort to protect your health?

[2] Use olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is consumed widely in Mediterranean countries. Italian, Greek, and Spanish cooking include olive oil as necessary ingredient in many dishes, as well in salads, marinades, and sauces. The use of butter and margarine for cooking is considered an inferior choice for your health.

The retail price of olive oil has diminished in the last decade due to changes in packaging. The traditional dark green glass bottle has been replaced by a hard plastic bottle of the same colour, which seems to preserve the characteristics of olive oil equally well.

If you don't live in a region where olive oil is in abundant supply, you might have to pay a few additional dollars per bottle. All in all, the decision to incorporate extra virgin olive oil in your diet might increase your food budget by a couple of hundred dollars per year, which is a modest investment if you consider the advantages for your health.

[3] Lemons and oranges: Citrus fruits contain high doses of vitamin C, which reinforces our immune system and helps combat cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C is also known to protect human cells against the accumulation of noxious substances.

Fresh oranges and lemons are available in most regions of the world at reasonable price, depending on the season. Grapefruit, papaya, strawberries, and mango are good substitutes for oranges and lemons.

Amongst the vegetables, vitamin C is also abundant in spinach and broccoli. Irrespective of your place of residence, eating citrus or similar fruits is an affordable habit that you should acquire.

[4] Eat fish often and, occasionally, lean meat: The reason behind this recommendation lies in the beneficial type of fat that is present in fish. Fish, in particular oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, is rich in a type of fat known as "omega-3." This element has proven to reduce dangerous cholesterol in human beings.

Fresh fish is a major component of the traditional Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese diets. Unfortunately, this dietary habit has declined in the last decades, leading to an overall deterioration of the health level of the population.

Wild salmon, whose consumption is known to be particularly beneficial, is neither part of the traditional diet of Sardinia nor widely available across the world. Luckily, in most countries, you can find at least one or two types of fish that are affordable. Eating fish is a habit that you can easily take up and which can bring substantial advantages to your health.

[5] Drink moderately and mainly red wine: The red wine produced in Sardinia, in particular the type known as "vino nero" due to its dark colour, contains high doses of poly-phenol. This element, which comes from grape skins, has been proven to have a positive effect on the human cardiovascular system.

The consumption of red wine might explain why extraordinary longevity in Sardinia is mostly a male characteristic. Octogenarian and nonagenarian women are also present in the island, but their number does not reach the unusual proportion of healthy elderly men.

Red wines produced in other countries may contain less poly-phenol, but a moderate consumption should also produce a beneficial outcome for your health unless there are specific reasons that advise against your consuming any alcohol at all. Quality red wine is available around the world at reasonable price and most people love its taste.

If you want to improve your overall health, forget about complicated rules. In the field of business, successful entrepreneurs know that the best results are obtained by concentrating energies on essential areas. Similarly, when it comes to enhancing our vitality, we will be better off if we acquire a few effective and pleasurable habits.


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

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

The beneficial, workable, simple approach

Studies in different parts of the world have tried to identify the causes of extraordinary longevity. In Europe and Asia, certain villages, valleys, and islands are home to a large proportion of healthy octogenarians and nonagenarians. This is the case of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.

Medical research has identified the elements in local diet that help residents maintain an excellent health at an advanced age. Some factors, such as landscape and climate, are linked to specific areas; other determinants, those of a more general nature, can contribute positively to human vitality irrespective of geography.

It stands to reason that the driving factors of extraordinary longevity must correspond to those of excellent health. The issue is to identify elements that we can take up in our daily life without incurring disproportionate effort and expense.

Even if we possessed evidence that some exotic herb is the key to excellent health, such knowledge would be of little help to people who cannot afford to purchase that plant on a regular basis. What we need are ideas that are, at the same time, beneficial and workable.

The island of Sardinia, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is a favourite vacation destination for many Europeans. Its weather and landscape, however beautiful and pleasant, are not much different from other locations around the world. This factor alone renders the study of longevity in Sardinia particularly interesting.

Lessons drawn from the diet in Sardinia can be applied in other regions of the globe. This aspect is crucially important, since studies conducted in other areas of the world often link the enviable physical condition of youthful nonagenarians to herbs and plants that are unavailable to the populations of other countries.

Another remarkable outcome of the research carried out in Sardinia lies in the apparent simplicity of the formula. In contrast, if you have read any modern book on nutrition, you will have noted the extreme complexity of the advice it presents. Page after page are filled with long lists of recommendations and tables showing the specific dosage of each ingredient. Who can remember all that?

Like in business, success in health matters tends to depend on just a few factors. Minute instructions telling salesmen how to close a deal are useless in a commercial environment. Life is too fast for knowledge that cannot be summarized in a small number of consistent principles. The human mind is constructed to reduce knowledge to the essential and forget cumbersome details.

What are the few factors behind the excellent health of the elderly living in Sardinia? The conclusions of the research can be presented in five rules that are logical and easy to remember. These recommendations can be practised inexpensively by individuals in most countries of the world.

[1] Eat fresh food, above all vegetables and fruit: This truth may seem deceptively self-evident. In reality, few people make the effort to select fresh ingredients for their meals. The great majority of packaged food, whether intended for breakfast or dinner, does not contain fresh vegetables or fruit.

If you eat out frequently, you might go a long time without tasting fresh ingredients, except for the occasional salad. Can you figure out alternatives so that you consume more vegetables and fruit? What can you do to reduce your dependence on packaged food?

The reason why few people consume fresh food has to do more with inconvenience than expense. Eating fresh fruit and produce requires frequent visits to the supermarket, to the detriment of more pleasurable activities. Are you willing to make the necessary effort to protect your health?

[2] Use olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is consumed widely in Mediterranean countries. Italian, Greek, and Spanish cooking include olive oil as necessary ingredient in many dishes, as well in salads, marinades, and sauces. The use of butter and margarine for cooking is considered an inferior choice for your health.

The retail price of olive oil has diminished in the last decade due to changes in packaging. The traditional dark green glass bottle has been replaced by a hard plastic bottle of the same colour, which seems to preserve the characteristics of olive oil equally well.

If you don't live in a region where olive oil is in abundant supply, you might have to pay a few additional dollars per bottle. All in all, the decision to incorporate extra virgin olive oil in your diet might increase your food budget by a couple of hundred dollars per year, which is a modest investment if you consider the advantages for your health.

[3] Lemons and oranges: Citrus fruits contain high doses of vitamin C, which reinforces our immune system and helps combat cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C is also known to protect human cells against the accumulation of noxious substances.

Fresh oranges and lemons are available in most regions of the world at reasonable price, depending on the season. Grapefruit, papaya, strawberries, and mango are good substitutes for oranges and lemons.

Amongst the vegetables, vitamin C is also abundant in spinach and broccoli. Irrespective of your place of residence, eating citrus or similar fruits is an affordable habit that you should acquire.

[4] Eat fish often and, occasionally, lean meat: The reason behind this recommendation lies in the beneficial type of fat that is present in fish. Fish, in particular oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, is rich in a type of fat known as "omega-3." This element has proven to reduce dangerous cholesterol in human beings.

Fresh fish is a major component of the traditional Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese diets. Unfortunately, this dietary habit has declined in the last decades, leading to an overall deterioration of the health level of the population.

Wild salmon, whose consumption is known to be particularly beneficial, is neither part of the traditional diet of Sardinia nor widely available across the world. Luckily, in most countries, you can find at least one or two types of fish that are affordable. Eating fish is a habit that you can easily take up and which can bring substantial advantages to your health.

[5] Drink moderately and mainly red wine: The red wine produced in Sardinia, in particular the type known as "vino nero" due to its dark colour, contains high doses of poly-phenol. This element, which comes from grape skins, has been proven to have a positive effect on the human cardiovascular system.

The consumption of red wine might explain why extraordinary longevity in Sardinia is mostly a male characteristic. Octogenarian and nonagenarian women are also present in the island, but their number does not reach the unusual proportion of healthy elderly men.

Red wines produced in other countries may contain less poly-phenol, but a moderate consumption should also produce a beneficial outcome for your health unless there are specific reasons that advise against your consuming any alcohol at all. Quality red wine is available around the world at reasonable price and most people love its taste.

If you want to improve your overall health, forget about complicated rules. In the field of business, successful entrepreneurs know that the best results are obtained by concentrating energies on essential areas. Similarly, when it comes to enhancing our vitality, we will be better off if we acquire a few effective and pleasurable habits.


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

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

Monday, 21 May 2012

More than good, even more than wonderful

"You are a strange man, Ludovico," complained Alessandra Benucci. "You say that you love me, but you care as little for me as you do for your career." Ludovico Ariosto looked out of the window and did not reply immediately.

His new job as governor of Lucca was difficult and his salary meagre, but the beauty of Tuscany never ceased to astonish him whenever he looked outside. "Sometimes, you have to slow down to prepare for a long run," answered Ludovico, shrugging his shoulders. "Anyway, at this moment, this was the only job I could get."

"But you promised that we would get married soon," went on Alessandra, walking up to him and taking his hand. It was June of 1516 and, in three months, Ludovico would be 42 years old. He turned around to face Alessandra and saw the disappointment in her eyes.

"I am just asking you to have a little patience, my love," he said, taking in a deep breath. "We will be married as soon as I have saved enough money to lead a proper life." How often had he tried to explain that to her? A hundred, a thousand times, all to no avail.

Ludovico had changed jobs often, always moving forward, working endless days only to be able to devote his nights to his passion. After years of efforts, he had just completed his poem "Orlando Furioso," although he was still planning to make some revisions.

"You should just let it go as it is now, Ludovico," exhorted Alessandra. "Your poem is more than good, it is even more than wonderful! It is high time to let it rest and work on something else. Why don't you write a Venetian comedy to please the Bishop? Or a song dedicated to the Duke?"

During the following eight years, Ludovico saved as much money as he could from his small salary. Shortly after his 50th birthday, he fulfilled his promise and married Alessandra. The couple purchased a small farm near Ferrara and retired to live there.

When Ludovico Ariosto's poem "Orlando Furioso" was published, only eighty six copies were printed. During his retirement in the farm, his revisions of the poem never ceased. It is believed that he rewrote parts of it at least two hundred times.

Little by little, the reputation of "Orlando Furioso" began to grow. By the time Ludovico was 57 years old, his poem had been already reprinted many times and was already considered the work of a genius. Ludovico, nevertheless, continued to make new revisions. After his death, Alessandra Benucci published the final version. It was absolutely perfect.

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

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

More than good, even more than wonderful

"You are a strange man, Ludovico," complained Alessandra Benucci. "You say that you love me, but you care as little for me as you do for your career." Ludovico Ariosto looked out of the window and did not reply immediately.

His new job as governor of Lucca was difficult and his salary meagre, but the beauty of Tuscany never ceased to astonish him whenever he looked outside. "Sometimes, you have to slow down to prepare for a long run," answered Ludovico, shrugging his shoulders. "Anyway, at this moment, this was the only job I could get."

"But you promised that we would get married soon," went on Alessandra, walking up to him and taking his hand. It was June of 1516 and, in three months, Ludovico would be 42 years old. He turned around to face Alessandra and saw the disappointment in her eyes.

"I am just asking you to have a little patience, my love," he said, taking in a deep breath. "We will be married as soon as I have saved enough money to lead a proper life." How often had he tried to explain that to her? A hundred, a thousand times, all to no avail.

Ludovico had changed jobs often, always moving forward, working endless days only to be able to devote his nights to his passion. After years of efforts, he had just completed his poem "Orlando Furioso," although he was still planning to make some revisions.

"You should just let it go as it is now, Ludovico," exhorted Alessandra. "Your poem is more than good, it is even more than wonderful! It is high time to let it rest and work on something else. Why don't you write a Venetian comedy to please the Bishop? Or a song dedicated to the Duke?"

During the following eight years, Ludovico saved as much money as he could from his small salary. Shortly after his 50th birthday, he fulfilled his promise and married Alessandra. The couple purchased a small farm near Ferrara and retired to live there.

When Ludovico Ariosto's poem "Orlando Furioso" was published, only eighty six copies were printed. During his retirement in the farm, his revisions of the poem never ceased. It is believed that he rewrote parts of it at least two hundred times.

Little by little, the reputation of "Orlando Furioso" began to grow. By the time Ludovico was 57 years old, his poem had been already reprinted many times and was already considered the work of a genius. Ludovico, nevertheless, continued to make new revisions. After his death, Alessandra Benucci published the final version. It was absolutely perfect.

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

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

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Using rationality to develop resilience

If you want to pursue ambitious goals and protect yourself from discouragement, your best ally will be resilience, not luck. Numerous men and women start their careers full of enthusiasm, only to succumb to the first difficulties. The path leading to achievement seldom runs straight. When obstacles stand on the way, detours are inevitable.

A healthy psychology depends more on steadiness of character than on a sunny disposition. Wise men do not allow adverse circumstances to deter them. When they encounter obstacles, they use their creativity to find passage. They face difficulties with courage, avoiding wishful thinking and exaggerated optimism.

Their resilience is based on a realistic assessment of their possibilities and their constancy on the knowledge that perseverance can overcome disaster. Their prudence rests on their past experience of success and their alertness on the wish to seize opportunities.

Some individuals never get the blues and, if you adopt an entrepreneurial mentality in all areas of your life, you can become one of them. Initiative and creativity will help you in private and business matters, in your dealings with friends as much as in those with customers.

Can you increase your resilience as a way to prevent problems for the future? Is it possible to render yourself immune to low spirits? What steps can to take to get rid of fears and doubts? A steady temper is the consequence of a person's history and convictions. The former is influenced by chance, the latter determined by one's will.

Use rationality to develop resilience. Those who think logically rarely fall prey to anxiety. If you view life in perspective, you will never be immobilized by depression. Keep your beliefs anchored in reality and your actions aligned with essential truths.

Individuals who possess a steady character tend to be persistent and entrepreneurial. If they ever worry, it will be only for the short time they need to change their course of action. They make the best of past mistakes and draw lessons for the future. Each of us can acquire the five elements that form their character, namely:

[1] A fair assessment of the impact of time on human affairs: In an era when most people expect to live at least 70 years, we should never allow adversity to sink our spirits. A man who has acquired a proper perspective of life does not get angry at inconveniences.

Provided that you have sensible goals, you have plenty of time to pursue them. Even though success is not guaranteed, your heart should remain confident and serene. Banish discouragement from your thoughts and commit yourself to developing a calm perspective.

[2] Understanding the long-term benefits of consistent behaviour: Animals such as cats and dogs show occasional persistence, but cannot make plans and implement them consistently. Steadiness of purpose, a uniquely human characteristic, constitutes the foundation of serenity.

The pursuit of long-term goals multiplies the effectiveness of human action. Resolve turns prototypes into marketable products and transforms ideas into profitable businesses. Experienced managers know the advantages of keeping an unvarying course. If you place your goals above short-term adversity, you will be able to preserve your peace of mind.

[3] A desire to avoid waste and economize resources: Complaining to those who cannot solve our difficulties is a waste of energy and time. In contrast, people who draw lessons from past mistakes know how to concentrate their efforts on finding solutions.

The longer you conserve your resources, the faster you will overcome adversity. Individuals who protect their assets look confidently at the future. On the contrary, those who dilapidate their possessions fear the day when their luck will change.

[4] Relentless curiosity and interest in learning: When unexpected events disrupt well-constructed plans, victims tend to react with irritation, condemning anyone who stands on their path. Their lamentations, however, have little effect on problems, except perhaps making them worse.

On the other hand, if you approach failure with curiosity, you will be able to draw invaluable lessons for the future. Innovators are individuals who have learned to view problems as questions and obstacles as delays. Opposition, instead of irritating them, makes them wiser.

[5] A perception of the asymmetry of markets: The idea that life offers limited possibilities is false and brings about exaggerated concerns. If you are afraid of blowing your only chance, your obsession is likely to block your success.

Markets are asymmetric because opportunities come and go. Prices can be low today and high tomorrow. Customers often modify their tastes and preferences. Constant change is a source of endless possibilities. If you take this fact into account, you will be more alert to future openings in your field.

People who are well prepared for the future make the best of every hour. Positive circumstances advance their interests and negative events increase their knowledge. These persons have learned how to look ahead, prevent problems to the extent possible, and let time play in their favour.

Commit yourself to economizing resources and focus your efforts on promising initiatives. Pursue your goals single-mindedly and understand the long-term benefits of consistency. Prepare yourself for the future and acquire an unshakable serenity based on rational expectations.


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

[Image by dicktay2000 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]