Monday, 7 October 2013

When misfortune and tragedy strike, discard the bromides of positive thinking. Three approaches to happiness that don't work. What Aristotle recommended.

Few are able to keep a cool head when facing insurmountable obstacles. Frustration derived from hardship leads many to despair. When misfortune and tragedy strike, empty promises won't help. What advice can be given to those who suffer from physical deficiencies or find themselves discriminated on the basis of their origin, background, or personal history?

Discard the bromides of positive thinking

Television and magazines are full of recommendations for disadvantaged individuals. "Be positive and have confidence," they are told. "Better times are coming." On many occasions, such bromides are dispensed by those who have never encountered serious problems in life or who have inherited most of what they possess.

Nowadays, many of those affected by personal deficiencies, instead of seeking out a rational response, turn to nihilism, obsession, or revenge. None of those approaches works, none of them has ever improved anything. What is the reason of their popularity? Why do people follow those paths?

Three approaches to happiness that don't work

Nihilism will deprive your life of direction, replacing ambition by neglect and dereliction. Your vision will become blurred and you will be reduced to perceiving, from everything, the worst. Purpose will be buried by random decisions, convictions will turn into derision.

Obsession will narrow your range to the minimum, pushing you to devote every hour to senseless goals, such as acquiring fame and power. History tells of many small men who became murderers to enhance their feeling of self-importance. This is not the way.

Revenge will waste your life by focusing your attention on past misfortune. Getting even seldom solves problems and frequently results in additional harm. Revenge will consume your efforts and resources, leaving you empty-handed, sad, and mad at yourself.

What Aristotle recommended

No wonder that envy and discouragement are rampant in contemporary society, possibly more than in any previous era of humanity. Already in the year 326 B.C., Aristotle emphasized the importance of seeking rationality as a way to attain happiness. Unfortunately, the voice of the philosopher seems long forgotten.

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


Image by Rach ScottHalls under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

When everything fails, try this. A problem creates an opportunity. Profiting from bad breaks. Nothing to be worried about. Countermeasures. A better approach

When everything fails, try this
a novel by John Vespasian

When a Belgian industrialist is diagnosed with cancer and told that he doesn't have long to live, he decides to bet his fortune on Prof. Zirkovsky's research. 

He convinces Zirkovsky to quit his teaching position in Brussels and set up a laboratory in Charlerois, a small town, in order to conduct experiments with monkeys. 

When Zirkovsky's research shows the first signs of success, animal-rights activists demand him to abandon his experiments. A series of violent attacks against the lab lead the industrialist to call his insurer, Alfred Grail, a Vietnam veteran living in Switzerland. 

What Alfred Grail will find in Belgium will shake his beliefs and make him change his life.
Table of Contents
  1. A problem creates an opportunity
  2. All threats are personal
  3. This is somewhat embarrassing
  4. A feeling of apprehension
  5. The dream of becoming an artist
  6. Fire without smoke
  7. Serious trouble
  8. Mutual dislike at first sight
  9. Running out of time
  10. A walk in the park
  11. Spreading false stories
  12. The return of the little princess
  13. Profiting from bad breaks
  14. A visit to the museum
  15. No longer in charge
  16. A trick with an envelope
  17. Countermeasures
  18. Nothing to be worried about
  19. Out of a job
  20. A better approach
  21. Without the shadow of a doubt
  22. A model citizen
  23. Whatever it takes
When everything fails, try this
a novel by John Vespasian