Thursday, 17 May 2012

A list of many things that don't work - and a few that do


If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Believe this and avoid that. Don't go there and come here. Throw away the old batch and start from scratch. "Our solution is not hard," you will be told, "I just need your credit card." Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology. 


Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. "Anything can be good or bad," is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy. Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive. What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:

1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.


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

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

A list of many things that don't work - and a few that do


If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Believe this and avoid that. Don't go there and come here. Throw away the old batch and start from scratch. "Our solution is not hard," you will be told, "I just need your credit card." Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology. 


Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. "Anything can be good or bad," is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy. Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive. What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future:

1.- ABOUT THE PAST: No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unfeasible, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old days, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

2.- ABOUT THE PRESENT: Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

3.- ABOUT THE FUTURE: Progress derived from focused routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.


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

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

The enormous advantages drawn from reading books regularly

It happens every spring, but this year, the questioning has been particularly intense. Every month of April, on occasion of the London Book Fair, newspapers publish articles speculating if it still makes sense to publish books.

At the turn of the century, one thousand book titles were published for every feature-length movie made. Today, the ratio is one to six hundred. The number of movies produced every year has increased and, at the same time, the number of published books has diminished.

"We live in a visual world," sociologists argue. "In many areas, the written word is becoming a relic of previous centuries." Media analysts blame the trend on video-games and portable DVD players. Others simply say that reading requires too much effort after our long work schedules.

In my view, those commentators are missing the point completely. Despite the abundance of cheap visual entertainment, readers' motivation remains strong. The reason why people read books has nothing to do with the demands of society and everything to do with individual psychology.

1.- MINORITY VIEWS: Visual media, due to its structure and economics, is unable to express minority views in a consistent, intellectual manner. In this respect, all has been tried and all has failed. Complex ideas cannot be transmitted without the written word. No photograph and no movie can replace a chain of reasoning built in clear sentences.

2.- DIVERSITY: Films, television, and radio, despite the growing number of channels, can only thrive when they aim at large audiences. They can offer multiplicity in the multitude, but no original ideas. Digital video has reduced the budget necessary to make a movie, but not the distribution costs. Actors, good lighting, and a decent soundtrack are still expensive. Books, on the other hand, can still be published and distributed cheaply.

3.- FRESH IDEAS: In a movie, special effects cannot cure the problems of a weak scenario. Even great acting is unable to sustain a filmed story that doesn't make any sense. How long ago is it since you saw a really thought-provoking movie? How often do you gain deep insights from watching television? The written word remains the ideal means to transmit innovative ideas.

The good news about reading is that three per cent of the population still remain avid readers. One out of thirty-three is not a bad proportion at all. A strong audience for writers is still there and it is not going to become smaller in the foreseeable future.

Do people read internet blogs for the same reason that they love books? Is it because they want to read original ideas? Do they do it in order to enjoy some fresh writing? I suspect that, for most, the main drivers are the joy of discovering something new and a steadfast refusal to join the other thirty-two.


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

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

The enormous advantages drawn from reading books regularly

It happens every spring, but this year, the questioning has been particularly intense. Every month of April, on occasion of the London Book Fair, newspapers publish articles speculating if it still makes sense to publish books.

At the turn of the century, one thousand book titles were published for every feature-length movie made. Today, the ratio is one to six hundred. The number of movies produced every year has increased and, at the same time, the number of published books has diminished.

"We live in a visual world," sociologists argue. "In many areas, the written word is becoming a relic of previous centuries." Media analysts blame the trend on video-games and portable DVD players. Others simply say that reading requires too much effort after our long work schedules.

In my view, those commentators are missing the point completely. Despite the abundance of cheap visual entertainment, readers' motivation remains strong. The reason why people read books has nothing to do with the demands of society and everything to do with individual psychology.

1.- MINORITY VIEWS: Visual media, due to its structure and economics, is unable to express minority views in a consistent, intellectual manner. In this respect, all has been tried and all has failed. Complex ideas cannot be transmitted without the written word. No photograph and no movie can replace a chain of reasoning built in clear sentences.

2.- DIVERSITY: Films, television, and radio, despite the growing number of channels, can only thrive when they aim at large audiences. They can offer multiplicity in the multitude, but no original ideas. Digital video has reduced the budget necessary to make a movie, but not the distribution costs. Actors, good lighting, and a decent soundtrack are still expensive. Books, on the other hand, can still be published and distributed cheaply.

3.- FRESH IDEAS: In a movie, special effects cannot cure the problems of a weak scenario. Even great acting is unable to sustain a filmed story that doesn't make any sense. How long ago is it since you saw a really thought-provoking movie? How often do you gain deep insights from watching television? The written word remains the ideal means to transmit innovative ideas.

The good news about reading is that three per cent of the population still remain avid readers. One out of thirty-three is not a bad proportion at all. A strong audience for writers is still there and it is not going to become smaller in the foreseeable future.

Do people read internet blogs for the same reason that they love books? Is it because they want to read original ideas? Do they do it in order to enjoy some fresh writing? I suspect that, for most, the main drivers are the joy of discovering something new and a steadfast refusal to join the other thirty-two.


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

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