Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Your personal goals in the light of distractions, irrelevancies, and obstacles. Why integration is the key to personal effectiveness, achievement, and stress reduction

Ideas are precious and constitute the basis of civilization. Without the concepts of free trade, freedom of speech, and human rights, our standard of living would rapidly fall to medieval levels. Personal goals shape a sustained vision that transforms our talents into valuable products of services.

Your personal goals in the light of distractions, irrelevancies, and obstacles


Closed doors reflect fear of change. Rational objectives will take you forward, but it is essential that those are compatible. Inconsistent principles rob each other's force and deplete each other's resources. Keep you door open to new concepts and ideas, but make sure that those are logically integrated.

When you discover that some of your goals are wrong, you should discard them. On the other hand, if your ambitions are annoying but consistent, keep them, since they might lead you to a breakthrough improvement.

Why integration is the key to personal effectiveness, achievement, and stress reduction


Integrated goals will take you places, but inconsistent ambitions will only wear you down, making you stressed, anxious, and depressed. Pursuing compatible goals increases personal effectiveness and enhances creativity. 

Consistent ideals also improve man's reasoning capacity. Modern life requires instantaneous choices. Individuals who possess well-integrated goals can deal with complexity in the most effective manner.

Rational men ensure the consistency of their actions by defining clear objectives for the remaining decades of their life. Effective living requires that our choices, minor or fundamental, are aligned with our overriding goals. Individuals who follow this principle tend to become an outstanding success.
 


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Let go of linear expectations. Rewrite your personal history. Continuous action breeds opportunities. In crucial matters, do not leave anything untried.

The Philosophy of Builders
by John Vespasian 

The factors that lead to prosperity and happiness have changed little through the ages. From the lives of accomplished men and women, we can extract the three principles that they have used to build a better future: self-reliance, tolerance and entrepreneurship. 

This book presents how individuals can use these principles to overcome adversity and improve their lives. Through the analysis of situations in the areas of relationships, career, health and investments, it shows how to overcome pessimism and discouragement, walk the path of least resistance, simplify your life and reduce costs, and focus on real opportunities. 

The ideas are illustrated with examples from the lives of Paracelsus, Jane Austen, Thomas of Aquinas, Gutenberg, Jules Verne and many other historical figures, showing how they overcame obstacles and built a better future for themselves.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Achieve basic stability
Never underestimate what one man alone can do
Establish the foundation of long-term achievement
Attack problems one by one
Do not allow vanity to paralyse you
Pay attention to danger signals
Build on existing strengths
Learn to view problems in perspective
Wait only the strictly necessary


2. Overcome pessimism and discouragement
Assess risks rationally, not emotionally
Quantify what you can expect
Passive acceptance is not the way to go
Dispute negative thinking patterns
Embrace a philosophy that leads to happiness
Avoid inconsistent decisions
Read inspiring authors


3. Walk the path of least resistance
Discard unworkable plans
Use realism to avoid waste
Look at what people are actually buying
Adopt a lifestyle that suits your temperament
Use long-term goals to determine your direction
Stay out of hopeless ventures
Avoid relativism and scepticism
Find an outlet for your talents


4. Take measures to prevent problems
Be prepared to face misfortune
Concentrate on crucial factors
Pay attention only to quality information
Identify potential threats
Look for simple prescriptions
Protect yourself effectively
Increase your resilience against adversity


5. Simplify your life and reduce your costs
Don't fall in the trap of short-term thinking
Enjoy the benefits of the immigrant mentality
When should you be willing to overpay?
Choose inexpensive alternatives
You can learn the basics quickly
Being healthier by consuming less
The solution to stress: simplification


6. Start new projects with minimum resources
Gather support as you go
The danger of getting stuck in abstractions
Avoid inaccessible markets
Do not be intimidated by other people's achievements
Most barriers are psychological
Small but regular steps often lead to success


7. Focus on real opportunities
Select a low-risk approach
You can profit from troubled times
How to identify promising ideas
Should you worry about the state of the economy?
Use low-cost marketing techniques
Redefine what is essential
Value creation begins with observation


8. Adopt productivity as a way of life
Do not assign excessive weight to mistakes
In case of doubt, opt for a logical explanation
Steady work is preferable to occasional jobs
Choose stories that promote achievement
A change of speed might be all you need
Work only on one major project at a time
Let go of linear expectations
Never entrust your future to chance
Keep flexible and alert


9. Take relentless action
Fill your days with worthy activities
Experiment to find out what works
Adopt effective routines
In crucial matters, do not leave anything untried
Continuous action breeds opportunities
Rewrite your personal history
Can you turn adversity into an asset?
Action is the best way to overcome obstacles



The Philosophy of Builders
by John Vespasian

The psychological benefits of frugality. Stress, anxiety and depression do not haunt the house of the austere. Ignore the noise, focus on what works

The law of cause and effect governs the world. Nothing escapes its reach, no one can circumvent its application. What you do today determines the level of tomorrow's pay. In addition to economic advantages, frugality also brings psychological benefits. Stress, anxiety, discouragement, and fear will not haunt the house of the austere.

The psychological benefits of frugality


Discarding waste and embracing frugality lead to peace of mind. Worries won't keep awake at night those who live with measure. Leading a rational life spares man the effort of following the latest fashion. When we dismiss artificial alternatives, we are left with the fundamental. Serenity is the result of simplification.

Choosing frugality instead of waste will allow you to make fast and consistent decisions. When you trust your own judgement more than external opinion, you learn from mistakes and develop your skills. Frugality, which is based on stable values, leads to decisiveness. A man who possesses clear priorities can reject inconsistency without need of long discussions.

 

Resisting the allure of short-sighted decisions

 A prudent conduct brings the added benefit of risk reduction. A judicious man protects himself when at risk and tries to avert threats whenever possible. The tension of complex choices can wear out even the most balanced mind. On the other hand, a straightforward and consistent approach reduces errors of oversight. Shunning unnecessary cost keeps risk exposure low.

Ignore the noise, focus on what works


Ignoring the noise of false opinions liberates resources. Frugality enables man to breathe free of encumbrances and focus his efforts on what really counts. Happiness is not the result of accumulating tasks, but of a few essential activities that make a difference.

Discarding waste brings man wealth, but the material advantages of frugality go hand in hand with its psychological benefits. Disregard the unnecessary and pay attention to the crucial elements of a good life. Realizing that most things possess little relevance is what enables man to make wise choices.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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





Monday, 29 July 2013

Lamentations constitute the ultimate form of waste. The iron principle of personal development (and the key for overcoming stress, anxiety, or depression)

Biographies provide details about how eminent persons waste opportunities and turn themselves into fools. On some occasions, errors are made out of insufficient knowledge, but frequently, vanity and greed play a major role in self-destruction. What readers of biographies seek to learn above all is how to overcome feelings of sadness and guilt after having made a gigantic blunder.

Lamentations constitute the ultimate form of waste

As soon as we realize the full extent of a major mistake, emotional misery arises from comparing our present to a parallel universe that would have existed if we had not wasted our opportunities. Such negative reactions overlook that errors and waste are the result of the knowledge available to a person at a certain moment. In essence, what an individual knows and feels are the only relevant factors in his decisions.

A man should strive to discard waste as matter of principle, but after making a dreadful mistake and suffering major losses, he should avoid comparing himself with someone else. It makes little sense to lament how well you could be doing if you had made wiser choices. The only thing you can do is to learn from the situation so that you can perform better next time.

Each human being is born in different circumstances, each life is unique. Individuals grow at their own pace and learn their own lessons. Errors and waste provide us with painful but irreplaceable experience.

The iron principle of personal development

Do not linger on illogical comparisons that bring nothing but misery. Stand up and look ahead. Your next achievement will bring you farther. Mistakes will make you a better human being and show you the way to happiness if you acquire rational habits. When it comes to avoiding waste, no other habit is as powerful as frugality.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Abandon contradictory goals. The law of cause and effect applied to relationships. Happiness calls for steady purpose and continuous action


Large number of people believe in arbitrary moral standards, but you are not obliged to imitate their foolishness. The idea that things can be done only in one specific way is false. The expectation that people must accept imposed values is unworkable. If you have ethical questions, look around until you find logical and consistent answers.

Why you should abandon contradictory goals

As friends or spouse, seek out exclusively individuals who can think for themselves. Abandon contradictory goals. Never get involved with persons whom you know to be dishonest, since they are unable to maintain good personal relationships. Deceit is synonymous with inconsistency. False ideas conflict with facts and with each other.

Anxiety is the mark of those who move at random, without destination. Animals do not need perspective, but humans do. In order to achieve great personal relationships, you need to determine your direction. A wise man cannot be satisfied with short-term relationships. Superficial personal bonds take a disproportionate amount of time and cannot provide the pleasures of deep conversation.

The law of cause and effect applied to relationships

Rational values embody principles that are common to all thinking human beings. Those values are distilled from reality by means of observation and logic. Irrational people cannot establish steady relationships because their behaviour continuously clashes with the demands of the world.

The law of cause and effect, the fundamental principle of existence, governs the relations between men and women. The relationships that you build today will determine how your future plays out. Your choice of friends and spouse will play a key role in your happiness.

Reason tell us how to lead our lives, whom to befriend, and who is worthy of our love. Let reason establish your ambitions and priorities also in the field of human relationships. Fashion and imitation provide the short-term contentment that comes from conformity, not real happiness.

Superficiality adds much expense to you detriment and brings little worth to your experience. Shrug your shoulders at unrealistic advice. Ignore invitations from irrational people, either as friends or love companions. You will spare yourself enormous costs and trouble.

Happiness calls for steady purpose and continuous action

In your choice of spouse, never pay attention to fashion or cultural expectations. Do not sell yourself short by exchanging your rational values for the worthless pleasures of conformity. Adopt logic and consistency as your only criteria for love and friendship.

Happiness calls for steady purpose and continuous action. Choose the way of reason and adopt consistent values. Developing relationships with other rational individuals can be a slow process, but it is extremely rewarding. It will enable you to lead a successful life and enjoy the company of the best of humanity.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Rational values constitute the alternative to unsatisfactory relationships. The search for relationships without stress, anxiety, and depression

Relinquishing individual thinking and embracing a standard lifestyle brings enormous advantages. For instance, it will save you time when making decisions. It will also spare you embarrassment when it comes to hiding the truth. However, irrationality and conformity cannot provide the basis for good relationships.
   
Imitating distorted pictures is not the way to create great paintings

The opposite side of the psychological spectrum is filled by non-conformity, which often boils down to blind loyalty to some other style. For instance, non-conformists prefer to practise dangerous sports instead of spending their holidays on the beach.

Their hobbies might include playing exotic games instead of watching films. They seldom go for a walk in the park, but they might spend a fortune on a tour in the tropical forest. The clothes of non-conformists, instead of clean and well ironed, tend to be messy and torn.

Whether you choose conformity or non-conformity as basis for your relationships makes little practical difference. In both cases, your years will be filled with more or less colourful souvenirs, not with happiness. Imitating distorted pictures is not the way to create great paintings.

Adopting values that make no sense will not move you towards success and happiness. The exaltation of inconsistencies will not render your feelings more intense. Walking a downtrodden track leads to a dejected spirit. In the field of love and friendship, thoughtlessness is not a path you want to take.

Rational values constitute the alternative to unsatisfactory relationships


If you embrace logic, you won't need to spend your days wondering which sub-culture leads to less dismay. Wisdom consists of identifying principles of human relations inspired by reason, applying them in our daily lives, and correcting our mistakes.

Seeking out thoughtful persons as friends or spouse plays a crucial role in attaining happiness. Sound choices are the result of man's rational evaluation of people and events. Achieving individuality requires our deep involvement with human beings who respect logic and consistency.

In order to develop happy relationships, we must allow our mind to filter out the noise of culture and fashion. We need to stop believing in myths. Neither specific clothes, nor gadgets, nor living in a specific location can provide the basis for good personal relations. Only people who share rational values are really able to communicate, understand, and appreciate each other.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Why downtrodden paths lead to dejected spirits. The three elements of individuality. Happiness calls for stable purpose and continuous action. Choose the way of reason

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

Why downtrodden paths lead to dejected spirits


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

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

The three elements of individuality


First, stop believing in myths: Neither specific clothes, nor gadgets, nor locations lead to happiness. The majority might bestow moral credibility to arbitrary standards, but you are not obliged to buy in. The idea that things have to be done in one specific way is, more often than not, false. Shun rigidity and look around for original answers.

Second, abandon contradictions: Irrationality is synonymous with inconsistency. False ideas conflict with facts and with each other. Anxiety is the mark of those who move at random, without destination. Animals do not need perspective, but humans do. Drop ideas that do not make sense and rebuild your thinking structure.

Third, determine your direction: Universal principles can be distilled from observation, but each has a myriad of different applications. The law of cause and effect drives all existence, but your context is unique. No one can tell you how to lead your life best. Let your reason establish your ambitions and priorities.

Realize that the short-term contentment of imitation adds little worth to your experience and much expense to you detriment. Shrug your shoulders at unrealistic advice and ignore insincere invitations. Happiness calls for stable purpose and continuous action. Choose the way of reason.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The principles of good health according to Maimonides. Guidelines for staying healthy without incurring large costs. Personal development begins with maintaining a good health

 
The principles of good health have remained practically the same for centuries. The idea behind those guidelines is that individuals, barring birth defects or misfortune, should stay healthy if they lead a balanced life. Sickness is an exceptional status arising from wrong behaviour or from wounds received in combat or by accident.

The principles of good health according to Maimonides


In Antiquity, Hippocrates formulated the precepts that a man should follow in order to maintain a good condition. In the Middle Ages, Maimonides compiled and commented Hippocrates' writings, confirming their effectiveness. Here is a summary of those principles:
  1. Ensure proper rest everyday at least for eight hours.
  2. The ideal sleeping time is between sunset and dawn.
  3. A man should not eat more than he strictly needs.
  4. Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided.
  5. The most healthy drinks are water and wine.
  6. Bowels evacuation should take place at least once a day.
  7. Fruits, legumes, and nuts should be eaten regularly.

Guidelines for staying healthy without incurring large costs


Beyond those basic rules, other prescriptions of Maimonides have also been confirmed by modern medicine as highly beneficial. For instance, the recommendation that a man should sleep on his side instead of lying on his back or face. In our age, a common remedy against back pain consists of sleeping on the side, with one leg stretched and the other in the foetal position.

Another guideline from the Middle Ages encourages eating small fish. During the last decades of the twentieth century, this prescription has been confirmed by marine biology studies. Apparently, in areas of the sea polluted by chemicals, large fish, due to their size, are more likely to be contaminated than small sardines or anchovies.

Personal development begins with maintaining a good health


Amazingly, even the contemporary exhortation against saturated fat finds some precedents in Maimonides' writings. Nine hundred years ago, although the chemistry of the different types of fat had not yet been discovered, olive oil was already being recommended as a healthy food. At the same time, man was being advised against eating old cheese.

Most of the great physicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages spent a good part of their lives working for kings and princes. This fact explains why, in their writings, they placed so much emphasis on recommending a balanced life as the best way of preventing disease. Nowadays, when workers are wealthier than ancient monarchs, such advice remains as valuable as in the times of Maimonides. Self-development begins with maintaining your health.



For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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


Monday, 22 July 2013

How to overcome perfectionism. The way to minimize stress and worry. Why you should be focusing on your strengths. Rationality is the key to peace of mind

The opposite of perfectionism is tolerance, the virtue of eliminating irrational demands and accepting a blemished reality. Tolerance brings openness and flexibility. Instead of expecting perfection, a wise man takes continuous steps to improve his results. When he is sailing, he watches the weather without getting angry at the changing wind because he knows that he can correct the course of his ship as often as he needs.

How to overcome perfectionism

A good mental exercise against perfectionism is to imagine what you will do if your current projects fail catastrophically. How would you feel if, after working on a major sale for three months, the transaction fails to take place at the last minute due to a factor that you had not foreseen?

The irrational response would be to fall into depression and self-recrimination. A more realistic and practical approach would lead to accept that your expectations may have been exaggerated in the first place. What will be the lesson for the future? A deal should be considered closed only when a contract has been signed.

Don't stop pushing before you cross the end-line, but at the same time, strive to maintain your serenity. Do not rely on half-cooked plans and always have a back-up solution. Do things fast and check them long. Take reasonable precautions, but leave perfectionism to the obsessed.

The way to minimize stress and worry

Preventive action helps minimize preoccupation and might save you a fortune down the road. Spread your bets, whether private or professional, and never place all your hopes on a single event that might or might not happen.

Do work in an organized and persistent manner, but at a certain point, stop worrying about results. Sometimes, things just don't work. Pushing beyond reasonable limits only makes bad situations worse.

All resources are limited, including your emotional resources. Set clear priorities and do not overextend yourself. Write down your plans, as well as your alternatives in case of failure. Buy insurance against major risks instead of trusting your luck. A flawless world does not exist. Sooner or later, bad things happen.

Learn to judge events and people sensibly and do not overreact to problems. The search for perfection is a delusion that wastes energy and obscures facts. Most things do not matter much in the long term. Rationality, although seldom easy, is the only practical response to adversity.

Abandon unrealistic expectations and adopt a tolerant view of people and events. Strive to see things as they are, unpolluted by false ideals, and your self-confidence will increase. Perfectionism does not work because it ignores the crucial role that patience and persistence play in achievement.

Why you should be focusing on your strengths

All learning begins with openness and curiosity. Rigid expectations of impossible success prevent self-knowledge and lead to anxiety. Focus on your strengths, not on what other people are doing. Define what is important for you without using statistics as guidance. Your values will tell you where to concentrate your resources.

Mistakes come in all sorts and colours. Learn to view them as stepping-stones leading you to a higher plateau. Accept errors and use them to your advantage. If you go with the flow, there is no limit how far you can row. Abandon perfectionism right now.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Sunday, 21 July 2013

When misfortune and tragedy strike. The rational alternative to stress, anxiety, and depression. How to surmount major obstacles

When misfortune and tragedy strike, it is wise to avoid the delusion of perfectionism. The belief that you should do something flawlessly or not at all is erroneous, unrealistic, and counter-productive.

When misfortune and tragedy strike


Despite the fact that television and magazines are full of recommendations to be positive, have confidence, and hope for better times, perfectionism and the resulting discouragement are rampant in contemporary society, possibly more than in any previous era of humanity. Few are able to keep a cool head when they face continuous obstacles. Frustration derived from hardship frequently leads people to give up their ambitions.

Perfectionism is a dangerous fantasy to be avoided at all costs. Already in the year 326 BC, Aristotle observed that a balanced life perspective is a prerequisite for attaining happiness. Unfortunately, nowadays, the voice of the philosopher is long forgotten. Millions of men and women face misfortune with anxiety and depression.

In order to overcome adversity, man needs a rational response. Expecting flawless performance every time leads to obsessive behaviour, excessive preoccupation, and nihilism. None of those approaches work. None of them has ever improved anything.



The rational alternative to stress, anxiety, and depression

Obsessive behaviour and excessive preoccupation will narrow your ambitions to the minimum and push you to waste hours on meaningless details. Nihilism, on the other hand, will deprive your life of direction, replacing ambition with neglect, and drive with dereliction. Under this philosophy, your vision will be reduced to perceiving, from everything, the worst. Convictions will turn into derision. Purpose will be wiped out by random decisions.



The rational approach to dealing with personal difficulties begins with discarding perfectionism. Errors are normal events in human action and you are unique in your genetic characteristics and personal circumstances. When things don't work out as expected, do not compare yourself with other people or with unrealistic standards of achievement. Such irrational comparisons bring nothing but misery.

Let go of chimerical expectations and make the best of your situation. Look for practical solutions. Assess different alternatives. Make a workable plan and implement it. In any case, you should abandon perfectionism right now, since its drawbacks dwarf its negligible advantages.

How to surmount major obstacles


Focused long-term action enables man to surmount major obstacles. Do no waste time with lamentations and wishful thinking. Keep on advancing on your chosen path and do not look back on past mistakes, except for drawing lessons for the future.

If you look around, you will find plenty of examples of people who have succeeded despite overwhelming burdens. Throw away expectations of immediate and flawless achievement. Maintain your serenity and trust the principle of cause and effect. 


Although life offers no guarantee of success, intelligent persistence has repeatedly proven to work. Can you extract some gain from each mistake? Time will wash away embarrassment and pain, but the teachings will remain.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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    Saturday, 20 July 2013

    The five elements that make people change their lives. Personal development depends on these five driving factors. How to increase your self-reliance

    You can win big in life by adopting an entrepreneurial mentality. It will allow you to overcome problems that other people find insurmountable, enabling you to detect hidden solutions and opportunities in difficult situations.

    The five elements that make people change their lives


    How can you train yourself to become more entrepreneurial? Taking risks, staying alert, and being quick at exploiting chance encounters are things that do not come naturally to most of us. Nevertheless, like any other skill, entrepreneurship becomes sharper through practice.

    The best approach is simply to make a list of those traits that you wish to acquire and work constantly at improving the quality of your thinking. What are the characteristics of the entrepreneurial mind? My own list contains five points. 


    1. Dissatisfaction with the current status

    Contented souls seldom have the drive that is necessary to challenge the way things are. On many occasions, entrepreneurship is linked to personal dissatisfaction with a product, service, or environment. Annoyance and irritation can fuel the motor of change. A strong wish to turn the present into a better future is the thread line of many entrepreneurial careers.

    2. Asking hard questions

    Start questioning things that seem self-evident. Why should you follow traditions that make no sense? Can things be improved? Why do we have to wait in line to purchase certain products or services? Is there a better way? When everything is expensive, try cheap. When everything is cheap, try borrowing. The best opportunities lie always below the surface. 

    3. A consistent vision

    There is moral ambition and there is the search of wealth. In addition, many others are embarked in a quest for honours or simply desire to make the world a better place. Pick your choice and keep it present in your mind. What really counts here is consistency. Random changes in your goals will block your entrepreneurial vision. Confusion generates chaos. Consistency of purpose sharpens the mind.

    4. Determination


    Whatever path you take, you will face opposition and criticism. Ambition is worthless unless it is accompanied by an iron determination to persist, to try again, to stand up and push repeatedly until the wagon moves. Why do different people possess unequal levels of determination? Personal philosophy plays a major role in this. Those who have a stable, rational, and integrated view of the world tend to advance faster on the entrepreneurial road.

    5. Tolerance of failure

    What does a moral virtue have to do with entrepreneurship? Everything. Intolerance and inflexibility are deadly poisons when it comes to detecting opportunities and taking initiative. Unless you push yourself to tolerate uncertainty and risk beyond normal levels, your mind will never operate on a high entrepreneurial gear.
    Make your own list of the traits that you want to develop and place it on a visible place in your kitchen or bathroom. The world of tomorrow is shaped by those who reflect on their life's purpose while cooking and brushing their teeth.


    For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Wednesday, 17 July 2013

    Become tolerant of mistakes, since you will make so many. The link between integrity and passion. How a proactive attitude helps you overcome difficulties

    The 10 Principles of Rational Living
    by John Vespasian 

    In order to improve your life, you don't need to place your hopes on a lottery ticket or wait for the world to grant you the perfect opportunity. There is a better way and it is condensed in the principles of rational living, principles such as “think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader,” “ignore the noise and focus on results,” “stay away from high-risk situations,” “find people who share your values,” and “develop strong long-term passions.” 

    This book presents the principles of rational living in great detail, with numerous examples of people who have applied them successfully. The principles of rational living are sound ideas that can dramatically improve your life. Learn all about them and start applying them today.

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. Think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader
    A recipe for getting ahead in good and bad times
    Debating and arguing are a waste of time
    The true believer is the one who preaches by example
    Entrepreneurs thrive on trouble and inconvenience
    Unlike resources, opportunities are infinite


    2. Ignore the noise and focus on results
    If one road is blocked, take another
    How to keep calm when you are surrounded by nonsense
    The effective way to handle work overload
    Learning from people who never feel discouraged
    A proven strategy against career stagnation


    3. Live inexpensively and invest for future income
    Why the stock market offers the best opportunities
    Common traits of great businessmen and investors
    What kind of companies should you invest in?
    A simple strategy is all you need
    Adopt a realistic and practical approach


    4. Choose a simple and healthy lifestyle
    Don't just eat well, eat wonderfully
    What is healthy, tasty, and easy to cook?
    How to reduce everyday risks to your health
    Eating healthily when you are travelling
    Is it possible to slow down ageing?
    Why it is so difficult to lead a simple life


    5. Find people who share your values
    Why you should ignore most of what you hear
    The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day
    Overcoming the resistance to changing jobs and relocating
    Don't be original, be unique
    Proven strategies for building great relationships
    Would you recognize yourself in the crowd?


    6. Listen to your emotions, but check the facts
    Beware of exaggerated romantic tales
    In dating and cooking, choose natural ingredients
    How far are you willing to go for happiness?
    Conflicting values lead to contradictory behaviour
    The short distance between infatuation and obfuscation
    Do not waste your best years pursuing unworkable ideals


    7. Accept the inevitable hassles of life
    Putting an end to exaggerated fears
    Extreme reactions are foolish and wasteful
    In praise of caution and circumspection
    Can you remain self-confident in times of trouble?
    How impatient people become stoic philosophers
    Never grant problems more weight than they deserve


    8. Stay away from high-risk situations
    Death statistics make great bedtime reading
    Tranquillity seldom comes cheap
    Do not make an obsession of the perfect profession
    Three situations that you should avoid like the pest
    Every archer needs more than one arrow
    The jungle never sleeps


    9. Acquire effective habits
    An hour has sixty minutes, a day twenty-four hours
    In praise of staying behind
    How a proactive attitude helps you overcome difficulties
    Let go of the dead weight of prejudice
    Smooth operators get more out of life
    Personal effectiveness depends on patterns


    10. Develop strong long-term passions
    Comparing yourself with other people makes no sense
    Don't drink the poison of contradiction
    What heroes are made of
    The myths of the single skill and the unique opportunity
    Become tolerant of mistakes, since you will make so many
    The link between integrity and passion


    The 10 Principles of Rational Living
    by John Vespasian 

    Tuesday, 16 July 2013

    When everything is lost is the best time to try the impossible. Relentless action can solve most problems, if you give it enough time

    When everything is lost is the best time to try the impossible. History contains many examples of individuals taking bold action and turning around desperate situations. You have more resources than you think. There are more possibilities around than it is apparent to the eye.

    When everything is lost is the best time to try the impossible

    Take the case of Venice in the year 1314, with interest rates at 20% that made almost impossible for anyone to borrow money. Since the King of France had forbidden Flemish merchants to take part in the Fairs of Champagne, imports of cloth into Venice had stopped altogether. Without Flemish cloth, Venetian dyers had been forced to fire hundreds of workers, pushing the economy into a deep recession.

    Pietro Alvise, the son of a Venetian merchant, did not allow the situation to bring him down. Instead, he made a bold proposal to his father, Luigi Alvise. 


    "What you are proposing is impossible," replied the old man, shaking his head. "Many have tried and no one has succeeded. It's better if we just wait."

    Pietro Alvise looked at his father and took in a deep breath. It was imperative that he found the right words. If he could not convince his own family, how would he be able to convince anyone else? "That's the point, father," he emphasized. "The market is not going to recover. Don't you see the rising interest rates? Aren't our friends going bankrupt one after the other?"

    Undecided, the old Alvise stared at his son. Who could deny that the economic situation was catastrophic? "I know that it can be done, father," insisted Pietro. "We don't need the Fairs of Champagne. We can build larger ships, galleys able to sail around Spain and France. We will take leather, spices, and glassware to Bruges and return with a full cargo of cloth."

    Relentless action can solve most problems, if you give it enough time


    During the next weeks, Luigi and Pietro Alvise called relentlessly on other merchants in Venice until they managed to line up 100 investors ready to fund the construction of a double-deck galley. The new ship had two masts and weighed 500 tons, something unheard of at that time. Traditional Venetian galleys possessed only one deck and rarely exceeded 200 tons.

    Pietro Alvise's double-deck galley was financed, designed, and built in the middle of the worst economic recession that Venice had ever experienced. In June of 1314, the ship sailed away from the Venetian lagoon, arriving two months later in Bruges. The trade expedition was a resounding success, turned around the economy of the area, and served as a basis for Venetian domination of world commerce during the following decades.


    For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Monday, 15 July 2013

    "Watching the sheep kindled my ambition," recorded Hesiod. "I realized that, unlike sheep, I had the capacity to control my future"

    Reading History is the ideal remedy to discouragement and dissatisfaction. During difficult periods, man can gain perspective by learning how his ancestors turned problems into opportunities. Past centuries have repeatedly shown how individuals with limited resources can face life's challenges and overcome extraordinary obstacles.

    Hesiod, an Ancient Greek poet, recounted in the year 770 B.C. that "the world did not welcome me when I was born and each season brought nothing but problems and difficulties." The reason for such lamentations was that a court decision in favour of his brother, Perses, had deprived Hesiod of his inheritance at an early age, forcing him to earn his subsistence by working in other people's fields.

    As a result of adversity, Hesiod soon acquired first-hand experience in all kind of farm labours and gained expertise in breeding goats and sheep. 


    "Watching the sheep kindled my ambition," recorded Hesiod. "I realized that, unlike sheep, I had the capacity to control my future."

    During the winter, Hesiod witnessed how the cold temperature in the mountains of northern Greece often culled herds by half. Later on, he would write that the destiny of animals, unlike that of human beings, is fully dependent on the weather. The young shepherd spent a long time preparing himself in the solitude of the mountains until, one spring, he walked to Chalces, a nearby village, and enrolled in the annual poetry contest.

    In Ancient Greece, winning a poetry contest was a ticket to fame and opened the door to a political career. That year, competition was particularly fierce since Homer, the most famous poet of the time, had come to Chalces to take part in the contest.

    On the eve of the competition, Perses asked his brother to which God he would be devoting his poem, as it was customary to do on such occasions. Hesiod smiled and shook his head. "My poem is not about Gods, it's about sheep." Perses stared at his brother incredulously, but did not make any comment.

    At the beginning of the contest, the jury separated the participants in two groups, one for the morning session and the other for the afternoon. After that, the winners from both groups would face each other in the evening finale.

    Homer achieved an easy victory in the morning competition, but the jury deliberated long before picking the afternoon winner. Who was this youngster Hesiod? It was the first time that anyone had ever heard a poem about sheep in the mountain.

    Amiphidamas, who was the mayor of Chalces and the president of the jury said that he liked Hesiod's poem. In a way, his opinion was not surprising, since he owned the largest herd of the village.


    "That shepherd has interesting ideas," Amiphidamas told the other judges of the contest.

    In the evening, torches were lighted to illuminate the theatre. Peasants from surrounding villages had come to Chalces to see the poetry finale, which featured Homer against an unknown shepherd called Hesiod. The result of the contest was predictable and Perses bet heavily against his brother.

    Homer recited a poem recounting the Trojan war and his performance galvanized the young. His strong voice and impeccable speech brought the audience memories of long-forgotten Gods and glories. When he finished his declamation, the jury nodded satisfied. Nobody doubted that Homer would come out winner.

    Then the young shepherd Hesiod came to stand before the public. "How hard life is," he started, "and how recurrent our miseries." Puzzled by the unusual beginning, the audience held their breath to be able to hear better. What was this poem all about?

    It was the story of a farmer who lost half of his herd every winter due to extreme cold. In his poem, Hesiod noted the scarcity of sheep in the winter, their over-abundance in the summer, and how sheep prices oscillated with the change of seasons.

    "I asked the oracle for an answer," recited Hesiod, "but he told me to look for it myself." 

    At that point, part of the audience murmured their disapproval. Undaunted, the young poet questioned his public. "What to do in face of winter scarcity? Should man suffer passively the caprice of the Gods?"

    Hesiod's poem was called "Work and Days." His conclusion was unmistakable. A wise man should buy sheep in the summer at a low price and wait for the winter's cold weather to bring back high prices and the opportunity of a profitable sale.

    When Hesiod finished his performance, the audience remained silent. Half of the jury members were in favour of Homer, but Amiphidamas' preference allowed the young shepherd to carry the day. Hesiod's rhyme had been awkward and his presence on stage unexciting, but the judges had found his poem "highly instructive for ourselves and future generations."


    For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Sunday, 14 July 2013

    There is no future in repeating the faults of History. Do not expect someone else to solve your problems. Discard preposterous expectations

    If you are planning to consult statistics before making a major decision, you'd better check your sources twice. Many proclaimed truths are solely based on opinion. Countless times, surveys do little more than elevate preferences to models of conduct that are to be followed out of convenience or for personal gain. Every morning, we should remind ourselves that serious errors have been committed in the past by placing blind trust in numbers produced by self-interested parties.

    There is no future in repeating the faults of History


    Our best protection against misguided statistics is not searching for alternative data, but using our common sense to interpret the conclusions presented to us. We should check if the recommendations match our experience and knowledge of the world. We should assess the consequences of the outcome of such surveys, ask ourselves uncomfortable questions, and take the necessary time to think things through.

    When it comes to determining the direction of your life, never trust other people's calculations without subjecting them to rational examination. No matter what results from a survey, its conclusions can never be as reliable as your own perception of the world. No matter how sophisticated a mathematical model may be, it will never match the accuracy of your direct inspection of the facts. The following list presents six sensitive areas where you should be particularly attentive to check the logic of any recommendation that is presented to you.

    1. Do not expect someone else to solve your problems


    Statistics proving otherwise should be subject to close scrutiny, since they seem to contradict a fundamental aspect of human nature. We all love to help family and friends, but should we believe any survey that promises uncertain help from indeterminate strangers? Check things twice before you act on such conclusions.

    2. You will become more effective if you concentrate on work you love


    Do not decide on your career solely on the basis of statistics. A survey might show you, for instance, what are the average salaries in different professions, but remember that, within each field, there are large differences of income due to individual expertise, ambition, and dedication. Take career statistics with a grain of salt and rather use your common sense to identify which professional path is suitable for you.

    3. Discard preposterous expectations


    Never trust studies that provide evidence that you can make a quick fortune by entering a business field where you don't posses any knowledge or experience. That kind of statistics, even if based on real data, frequently portrays a window of opportunity that has already closed by the time you hear about it. Be prudent and don't go blindly for things that look too good to be true.

    4. Reject statistics that prompt you to waste your resources


    If someone proves to you with numbers that work and play are equally productive, you should not believe it. If a survey tells you that it doesn't matter whether you take care of your health or not, you should stick to your salutary habits and rational good choices. Such surveys make the headlines precisely because they are controversial and contradict basic common sense. The data might be true if applied to particular circumstances, but the conclusions make little sense as general advice.

    5. Question predictions of awful consequences from seemingly harmless activities


    For instance, a study showing that people holding a certain type of job die young might reflect the statistical truth. Nevertheless, if you read its conclusions in full, you will realize that many individuals in that profession live substantially longer than the average. Ask yourself what are the factors that make those men and women reach an advanced age and seek to draw lessons that you can apply to your life.

    6. Remember that trial and error are part of the natural learning process


    For this reason, you should question the scientific value of any survey that enthrones a specific method of doing things. Are the conclusions based on local circumstances or do they have general application? Has the study been conducted with impartiality or do you have reasons to suspect the existence of conflict of interests? Whenever you face a recommendation to narrow your field of inquiry, compare the statistics to what you know from experience, and see if the conclusion makes sense.

    What you should trust and rely on


    The purpose of surveys is to extract lessons from reality, but without method and logic, data cannot teach us anything of value. Place your common sense above all statistics and your reason above all calculations. 

    Trust your immediate perception more than a hundred volumes of allegedly scientific conclusions, since in life, you will have to pay for your own mistakes. Always check twice what seems to be lie beyond doubt and question what appears self-evident. Let your own independent judgement guide your life according to reason and reality.

    For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

    Image by foxypar4 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

    Saturday, 13 July 2013

    The precondition for making the best of your life. Personal growth requires balance as much as it demands passion. What to do when progress comes to a standstill

    It takes a while before a man realizes that he is going to die some day. Some people never become conscious of their mortality and continue to waste their days until the very last moment. Drug consumption, including alcohol, is a failed attempt to appease the anxiety created by the fundamental truth that time moves in only one direction.

    The precondition for making the best of your life


    Accepting that your days are limited is a precondition for making the best use of your time. With happiness as a long-term goal, personal growth becomes a short-term objective. With longevity as a desirable aim, good nutrition becomes a crucial element of the good life. The trend is given by Nature, but each individual must define his own strategy.

    Gaining understanding of the fact that each passing day is irrecoverable exerts enormous pressure on the insecure. They wonder incessantly if they are doing the right thing or enough of it. They speculate about a myriad of other activities that they could be carrying out instead. They terrorize themselves with statistics of who is doing what, how fast, and how well.

    Should we let anxiety drive our lives? In the pursuit of our goals, how can we strike the optimal balance between peace of mind and personal growth? An hour always has sixty minutes and every new day offers us another twenty-four hours. Exaggerated time-consciousness and focus on achievement may lead men to a psychological misery not better than the destitution of the idler.

    Personal growth requires balance as much as it demands passion


    The path to happiness should be first drawn with charcoals and then brought to life with oil colours. We learn as we walk. Mistakes are inescapable as we sometimes take the wrong turn of the road. Nobody possesses the ability to make all the correct choices.

    No man can at the same time concentrate all resources on his future and enjoy the hours of the present. Each individual is born and raised in different circumstances. Genetic, family, and personal qualities vary heavily from one person to the next, even within the same family. The philosophical approach to happiness should not deviate from the hard rules of reality.

    Imagine a young man who, growing in the most favourable environment, identifies his lifetime ambitions when he is fifteen years old. He may well spend the rest of his life pursuing his goals, but there is no guarantee that he will achieve them. Anyone entering a professional field has to learn the trade and assimilate its written and unwritten rules.

    What to do when progress comes to a standstill


    Sooner or later, lack of knowledge, bad luck or misunderstandings will slow down his professional progress or bring it to a complete standstill. Any biography that you may read will provide evidence of the universality of this principle. Trains stop from time to time, careers stall, and fortunes are sometimes lost.

    Occasionally, evil forces may play a role in the demise of a great ambition, but those cases are more rare than popular accounts tend to portray. More often than not, discouragement is the visceral response to failure. Summer grows the seeds nourished by spring rain and winter kills the trees weakened by autumn storms. However, when it comes to human beings, our mental versatility allows us to develop extreme resiliency and surmount all disappointments.

    What is the best approach to adapt the rhythm of our personal growth to our own conditions and situations? Can we define a formula that applies to all men, all countries, and all historical periods? Experience has taught me that best strategy is to identify your target, start moving immediately towards it, and correct mistakes along the way.

    Relentless action will take you farther on any road you choose, but the crucial aspect in the happiness quest might not be motivation but efficiency. Everybody can raise his motivation level, at least for a while, by attending rallies and listening to speeches. You can chant and dance around, you can dream and speak your heart out, but very little will be achieved.

    Other people may support your endeavours or oppose your initiatives, but in the long-term, their actions play only a minor role, like the noise of a train running on its track. Indeed, the sound accompanies the train, but what moves the wagons is the engine, not the noise.

    The one thing that is more important than motivation


    Discard motivation and let action drive you to a better life. What you do counts more than what you dream about. Gaining efficiency and speed on your path to happiness are desirable effects connected to the choice and extent of your actions. If you wish, spend some time cultivating your motivation, but do not let it develop into a game of its own. Talking is not tantamount to doing.

    Fast and cheap mistakes are the cardinal accelerator of human success. Inexpensive errors are the sweetest way to happiness, in particular when those errors are rapidly admitted and corrected. Learn a lesson from each of them and avoid repeating the cause and effect. This factor alone can compound the positive effects of your work and lead you to levels of achievement that you previously thought beyond your reach.

    The experience acquired in a few years of continuous action will teach you more than several decades of exquisite motivational talks. Reality is too complex to be reduced to pure theory. This is why personal growth can be achieved only through experience.

    Knowledge is spread in the market like minerals are contained in sea water. If you wish to become a great surfer, you will have to taste the water hundreds of times. Your reflexes will become faster as you learn how to profit from the changing wind. 


    In your search of happiness, let practice take precedence over speculation. From mistakes, you gain insight and a sharper vision, while empty talk will just eat up your limited time. Choose the way of action.

    For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Stress management under difficult circumstances

    • How to stay rational in a chaotic world
    • Maintaining your psychological strength despite problems and obstacles
    • Techniques to stop worrying even when you have a thousand problems
    • How to get self-confidence when living in a hostile environment
    • Overcoming barriers to personal growth, internal and external
    • How to deal with difficult people in your business and personal life
    • Stress management under difficult circumstances
    • How to build your self-esteem in times of adversity
    • Overcoming anxiety and excessive concern
    • The low-cost approach to self-development
    • How to find peace of mind in a world of non-stop noise
    A free presentation of my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living:

    Friday, 12 July 2013

    How to remove your self-imposed restrictions. Do not delude yourself with the short-term advantages of immobility. Motivational paralysis is a waste of life

    Why would anyone devote efforts to convince himself that he cannot improve his own situation? Although many individuals are conscious of the disadvantages of psychological immobility, such paralysis is frequently endorsed. Millions of men and women fall prey to self-imposed restrictions that they could remove if they wished.

    How to remove your self-imposed restrictions


    Why are restraining beliefs so ingrained in society? What makes human beings support fantasies in word and deed? How is it possible that some people devote their energies to pretending that paralysis is an acceptable approach to living?

    Three reasons explain why human beings are often deeply invested in immobility. Social convenience is the first, since it feels good to belong to the majority. Financial benefit is the second, since many doors are closed to those who ask uncomfortable questions. The third motive, fear of rejection, is perhaps the strongest.

    Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, experience proves that, in the long run, doubt and psychological paralysis will destroy a man's life.

    Social convenience can lead people to repress their best initiatives. The habit of seeking conformity deprives men of the force to pursue their dreams and stake their claims. However, the financial benefits of immobility, although sweet, tend to be short-lived.

    In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection tend to be exaggerated by the media. Nowadays, global markets allow innovators to find their customers anywhere in the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by friends and neighbours.

    Do not delude yourself with the short-term advantages of immobility


    Thinking for yourself is difficult in the face of opposition. The golden advantages of social convenience always seem, at first sight, the obvious choice, but conformity and passivity make man's happiness impossible. Becoming aware of long-term consequences of immobility and taking rational initiative mark the path to success.

    Inaction and conformity have so many advantages that, for some people, they become the choice by default. Few are told that those short-term benefits are dwarfed by their lifetime costs. Seldom is the fact mentioned that long-term passivity wipes out man's capacity for attaining success and happiness.

    Psychological immobility arises when people are overwhelmed by problems, threats, or obstacles that look insurmountable. Logic and evidence provide the means to dispute and eliminate from our mind the fallacies that feed mental passivity. Rationality is what allows a person to make reasonable calculations and take action to improve his life.

    For instance, if you want to avoid psychological exhaustion, you should never take it personally when people do stupid things. Never allow yourself to be paralysed by the fact that other persons have made a large mistake.

    Motivational paralysis is a waste of life


    Stand up and resume your efforts to attain success. Get back on your feet and avoid the temptation of passivity, since it produces nothing and leads to nothing. Motivational paralysis only serves to waste your life.

    Make a point also to ignore gloomy predictions from the media, friends, or family. Most depressing statements are not true anyway and the world is not coming to an end. Do not join people wallowing in their misery. Never fall into immobility out of fear of things that, most likely, will never happen. Asses your alternatives, pick up the best, and begin to move in the right direction.

    What looks today as universal malignancy often turns to be just another benign local problem that is quickly forgotten. What today seems a serious challenge has often little long-term significance. For those who refuse to be paralysed, catastrophes frequently contain the seed of profitable opportunities.

    When people embrace passivity, that's the best time to take swift action. A crisis, personal or otherwise, should be faced through relentless initiative, not with immobility. Nobody but you can decide when a game is over.

    Psychological paralysis is the worst enemy of achievement and happiness. Immobility is always a losing proposition. What you learn on bad days builds your creativity and strength of character. For those who remain alert and active, opportunities are created every minute.


    For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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