The great period of Ancient Roman prosperity lasted only two centuries, until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 C.E. Nevertheless, the physical and intellectual assets accumulated during those years have allowed Roman civilization to exert its influence until our day. The teachings of the past should never be forgotten, since the principles of how to achieve happiness and success are immutable. We don't need to waste resources making mistakes that can easily be avoided if we pay attention to History.
Lessons from history about personal development
From the best times of Ancient Rome,
we can learn important lessons about how to lead a rational life.
Although technology and social context have evolved, we should still pay
attention to recommendations of wise individuals who have learned from
their errors, frequently after paying a heavy price. The following
principles summarize essential elements of how to lead a rational life
and enhance our chances of attaining happiness.
Entrepreneurship is the way to personal growth
 You should
aim at becoming an entrepreneur, irrespective of your social origin,
since individual initiative has repeatedly proven to be the ideal tool
to create wealth, independence, and psychological well-being. During the
golden age of Ancient Rome, the number of self-employed people grew
faster than in any previous time in History, as large parcels of
uncultivated land were put to agricultural use for the first time. In
the 21st century, the same phenomenon is taking place on the internet,
which has become the great liberator of entrepreneurial energies without
distinction of sex, race, age, or personal history.
Personal development requires critical thinking
your efforts only to feasible projects. There are more good ideas around
that there is capital to fund them. Although the economy of Ancient
Rome experienced sustained growth in the second century C.E., writings
from that period show that it was not easy to obtain a loan.
Contemporary financial institutions are thousands of times more
efficient than the modest mortgage markets of Ancient Rome, but the
number of individuals looking to borrow money has also grown
exponentially. At any given time, there are always many more people in
the world willing to borrow money than there are funds available. Do not
waste your energy on projects that have no real chance of obtaining
financial backing. Focus only on workable ventures.
Learn to think like an entrepreneur
 Look for
alternative ways to achieve your goals. In Ancient Rome, individuals
with vision faced similar obstacles as nowadays. How do you fund trade
expeditions? Which goods should you import and export? Entrepreneurial
men in ancient times quickly realized that the traditional Roman
approach to business finance, a mortgage on a piece of land, was
inadequate to conduct commercial enterprises. Through trial and error,
they created different types of partnership contracts that have evolved
through the centuries into our modern venture capital funds. Do not give
up when traditional methods prove unsuitable to carry out your ideas.
Seek further until you find a practicable solution.
The link between salesmanship and friendship
Salesmanship opens the door to tolerance and friendship. Ancient Romans
learned the hard way that a commercial attitude was the only way to
maintain a high standard of living. The first and the second century
C.E. led to massive wealth creation due to an expansion of tolerance and
entrepreneurship across Europe and the Middle East. Conflicts, although
frequent, were limited in range. In the present context, when millions
of individuals across the world are devoting their creativity to
international commercial ventures, rationality is respected as the
cardinal virtue of those who achieve business success. Effective
salesmanship is nothing but logic applied to commerce.
accordance to Nature marks the path to happiness today as it did it in
Ancient Rome. Logic and consistency remain the pillars of personal
growth. If you doubt that rationality is the best way to conduct your
life, read History and study the dire consequences of prejudice and
abuse. The events of past centuries prescribe that each of us should
become entrepreneurial instead of expecting free help to come to us.
Finding happiness through relentless self-improvement
of imitating others, let us learn the lessons of ancient wisdom and
keep away deceitful theories that contradict the facts of History. We
need to develop enough resiliency to avoid being overwhelmed by other
people's opinion or lack of it. Studying Ancient Rome is a very
effective method of reinforcing the idea that we should not waste our
time trying to establish paradise on earth.
proposals that do not work and favouring proven systems is a sign of
wisdom. The same logic applies to walking away from situations where
people tell us that rationality doesn't count. Let us avoid repeating
the faults of the past and do what is right, even if it happens to be
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
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