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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