Sunday, 30 March 2014

Do you have a system for dealing with emergencies? What to do in situations of great stress. The difficulty of making correct decisions under pressure. Learning what to do and what to avoid



How long will it take until you have to face an emergency? Earthquakes are unusual in most parts of the world, but few men are exempted from the risk of fire at home or at work. How would you react if you were attacked by a tiger? What would you do in case of a flood?

Do you have a system for dealing with emergencies?

Misfortune tends to hit at the most inconvenient moments. When bad luck runs wild, it may cut its path across our lives and destroy the work of decades. Do you have a system to deal with emergencies? Have you prepared a back-up plan for cases of catastrophic failure?

Most people who study Socrates (469-399 BC) as a philosopher retain few teachings of substance. This Ancient Greek philosopher is reputed for his skill at asking long series of questions aimed at revealing contradictions, discarding fallacies, and establishing truth. However, the most interesting lesson from his life is seldom pointed out.

According to Plato (428-347 BC), Socrates loved to question what everybody else considered self-evident. He would engage debates with prominent Athenian citizens and use his sharp mind to demonstrate the immorality of some comforts, the inconsistency of certain principles, and the difficulty of many truths.

Most of what we know about Socrates concerns his death. By the time he turned 70 years old, he had accumulated many friends but also a substantial number of enemies. While a minority of citizens appreciated Socrates' passion for philosophical conversation, he was detested by the subjects of his constant criticism. At one point, his opponents raised charges against him and demanded that he was put on trial.


What to do in situations of great stress 

Although the accusations against Socrates did not make much sense, the important point is that such trial could lead to a death sentence. If we trust Plato's recollections, the charges must have not taken Socrates by surprise. He had spent most of his life in Athens and was well acquainted with its customs and procedures. He knew what he risked if he was convicted.

The fact of being indicted causes great distress to any human being even if the complaints against him are false. One can hardly imagine an emergency most pressing than having to face a jury invested with the power to weigh your every word and put an end to your life in this world.

Plato's account of the trial describes Socrates' eloquent and passionate defence. The old philosopher countered the charges against him with facts, logic, and courage. He argued for his innocence and invoked his previous services to Athens. He pleaded with arguments that appealed to reason and emotion, expecting to be acquitted or, at worst, mildly reprimanded.

Even so, despite all his strenuous efforts, Socrates was condemned to death. The sentence was executed by making Socrates drink a mixture of hemlock, a Mediterranean plant whose poisonous effects are similar to those of curare: the muscles of the victim become progressively paralysed until he can no longer breathe.



The difficulty of making correct decisions under pressure

What makes the story fascinating is that Socrates had the possibility to flee but refused to do it. This aspect is so intriguing that Plato devoted one of his works to explain why Socrates agreed to face his accusers at the peril of his life.

Crito, an Athenian businessman, was one of Socrates' friends who stood by him at all times during the trial. When Crito proposed a plan to escape jail, Socrates did not consent. When Crito volunteered to bribe the prison guards, Socrates did not accept.

Twenty-four centuries later, Socrates' decision seems as incomprehensible as it must have been in Ancient Greece. If you ask anyone in the street about what to do in case of fire, he will tell you to run. When human beings face emergencies, survival instincts often prove more reliable than a hundred essays on ancient philosophy.

Although Plato wrote extensively to explain why Socrates did not flee, the truth is that we have no idea. Xenophon (430-354 BC), an Ancient Greek historian, argues that Socrates was too old and had lost the will to live. How accurate is this theory?

Learning what to do and what to avoid


Defeatism, which might apply to those who are terminally ill, seems difficult to conciliate with Socrates' energetic defence during the trial. If he had given up on life altogether, why did he bother to refute the accusations? Why did he try to convince his opponents of his innocence?

Even though we'll never know which version of the story corresponds to the facts, there is a crucial lesson to be drawn. What would you have done? Would you have accepted Crito's offer to escape jail? Would you have fled your city and gone away?

Irrespective of the soundness of the charges against Socrates, the tale of his trial might denote a negative aspect of the great philosopher's character: vanity. Did Socrates' desire to demonstrate his innocence and prove his point prevent him from running for safety?

Plato's account shows that Socrates must have been aware that he could not expect a fair trial. How can we understand Socrates' unhealthy reaction to such an emergency? If given the possibility, any rational man would have fled, stabilize his situation, and later tried to erase his accusations.


The proven system for dealing with emergencies

Taking swift protective action is the proven system for dealing with emergencies. Once you are safe, the next step is to achieve stability and come up with a recovery plan. We cannot ascertain if vanity did Socrates in, but the principle is valid all the same: when an emergency breaks out, put your pride aside and take the necessary action.


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

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

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

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Entrepreneurship is the key to personal development. The five elements of self-improvement and personal growth. The world is shaped by those who reflect on their life's purpose


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.

Train yourself to be more entrepreneurial

How can you train yourself to be 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.


The five characteristics of the entrepreneurial mind

1. TOLERANCE: 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.

2. INDEPENDENT THINKING: 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. CONSISTENT AMBITION: 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. A FEELING OF DISSATISFACTION: 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.

Place your list in a visible place


Make your own list of the traits that you want to develop and place it in 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 individuo under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]


Friday, 28 March 2014

How to sustain your motivation during bad days. Personal growth despite obstacles and adversity. Reduce your stress and enjoy live more. Keep in mind the factors playing in your favour


Wind erodes mountains into hills. Water excavates rocks into caverns. Stimuli of all kind affect our state of mind, sometimes positively, frequently to make it worse. Even if you lived in a desert island, you would not be immune to this phenomenon, since floods or drought might shift your focus all the same.

Sustaining your motivation is crucial 

 The results of such influences can last minutes or weeks. Sustaining your motivation is crucial when you are involved in long-term projects, such as obtaining a college degree or starting up a business. How can you prevent that negative events consume your energies and ruin your temper?

Most popular recommendations in this respect do not work. For instance, repeating encouraging messages to yourself will seldom eradicate deep-rooted feelings of anxiety. Beliefs in supernatural forces might soothe fear for a while, but sooner or later, reality will return harder than ever. Telling yourself that everything is for the better, when it is not, is demeaning and psychologically destructive.
 

Rational thinking is the best approach

 Rational thinking is the best approach to ensure that you start each day in a good mood. When used consistently, it leads to serenity, enhances productivity, and reinforces personal effectiveness. What you need to stay optimistic is not fantasy, but objectivity. If you maintain a balanced view of the world, pessimism cannot take over your feelings.

My suggestion is simple and it is based on the observation that all of us tend to exaggerate problems. Our closeness to current unpleasant events, such as failure or rejection, deprives us of perspective. What you need to do is to write down a list of your assets and place it where you can see it every morning.

Make a thorough inventory of everything you have in your favour. Do not overlook any of your qualities and possessions, since other people may lack those. If you have an excellent health, you might be taking that for granted, but don't forget that, in any country, a percentage of the population suffers from serious disease.
 

Keep in mind the factors playing in your favour

Add up your skills, what you own and whom you know, your half-done projects and your latest initiatives. The point is not to make you look good in the face of other people's misery, but to remind you of the extent of your resources. As counterpoint to the latest annoyance, we can all use a fresh view of our own capabilities.

Neither problems should be magnified beyond reason nor opportunities forgotten. Whatever challenges you are facing, it is good to keep in mind all factors that play in your favour. Make the list of your personal assets and let it shed a reassuring light on your plans for the future. With time and perspective, most of today's adversities might be remembered, if at all, as minor inconveniences.


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

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

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


Thursday, 27 March 2014

How to avoid goals that will prove useless and wasteful. The myth of blind determination. Discard the hard approach to personal development. Work less and get things done


A wrong perspective can block more of your initiatives than any external obstacle. If your vision is short-sighted, you will not perceive anything beyond the immediate. If your vision is blurred, you will get lost in speculative discussions. If you look too far away into the future, you will lose touch with your environment.

A short-sighted approach leads to catastrophe



At the turn of the 10th century, thousands of peasants in Europe believed that the world was coming to an end. Their incentive to work diminished sharply and, as a result, agricultural output decreased. High food prices led to the fulfilment of their prophecy, since many families starved during the winter that inaugurated the second millennium of our era. A wrong perspective annihilated part of the population.

Drug addicts and compulsive gamblers embody an extreme type of short-term mentality. Their world is restricted to what will happen in the next hours or minutes. Their minds do not register the physical and financial consequences of their actions. Their numbed sensitivity ignores danger signals. Their grasp of reality has shrunk to the minimum. Warnings cannot reach their ears.
Are the above examples valid? Do you consider self-evident that man needs a proper perspective of life? If everybody agrees with this conclusion, is the whole discussion pointless? Frankly, I don't think so.
 

Why people embark themselves in losing ventures

If you really believe that the issue is settled, you might be making a fundamental mistake. The truth is that, every year, millions of individuals destroy their lives by embarking themselves on counter-productive ventures.

People quit hard-earned positions and abandon established professions in pursuit of unworkable projects. Sometimes, individuals risk their health or physical survival by getting involved in losing propositions. Occasionally, such delusions affect a large segment of the population.

These tragedies happen so often that we have grown desensitized to them. This phenomenon is so apparent that we have lost the capacity to see it. Lack of perspective wrecks innumerable human lives. The seriousness of the problem is deeper than we are willing to admit; its size, bigger than statistics can register.
 

It is hard to discard nice ideas that don't work

Leading a prosperous and happy life requires that we discard ideas that don't work. Trying to accomplish the unworkable serves to fuel vanity, not well-being. Nobody will be helped if you attempt to accelerate change beyond what the environment can take. In contrast, many people will complain if you try to impose what nobody else wants.

The advent of the internet and low-cost mobile communications show the scope of change that we can expect to see within a generation. Repetitive tasks can now be carried out in a faster and cheaper manner. Some business sectors have been favourably affected; others have become obsolete. In addition, the web has extraordinarily facilitated the spread of knowledge.

A wise man establishes his goals according to reason. High ambitions are commendable, but grandiosity should be avoided. Persistence is necessary, but it should not turn into obsession. Attempts at improving the world will remain fruitless if they are not accompanied by a sound dose of realism.

Choose your goals wisely and sparingly


 What are the consequences of this principle? How can we prevent our goals from becoming destructive? How can we avoid devoting efforts to seemingly important causes that later turn out to be worthless? Here are some practical ideas that you can use:

1. Quantify the time


Goals that lack a temporal frame have less chances of success. Saying that you want to become a writer is meaningless if you do not come up with a plan. How many years are you going to devote to writing? How many books do you intend to produce? On which subjects? How long will you need to complete your first manuscript?

2. Define the space


Objectives that are not circumscribed to a specific territory tend to be less attainable. Saying that you want to end hunger in the world denotes a good heart, but lacks a detailed plan. If you want to do development work to help poor people, are you going to focus on Latin America or Africa? On which part of Africa? English- or French-speaking? What specific project do you want to implement?
 

3. Assess the resources
 
For instance, if your goal is to make a living trading the financial markets, you should make a list of the necessary steps and how much each one is going to cost you. How long a training will you need? What is the price of the courses? Are you willing to work as an apprentice in order to learn the business? How much capital do you need to make a living trading stocks or commodities?

The world is going to change during your lifetime, but you should not entrust your future to random events. When you make plans, adopt a prudent perspective. Quantify the time, define the space, and assess the resources.


One workable plan is worth more than a million dreams

Leave vanity to the foolish and focus on what you intend to accomplish. A workable plan is worth a million discussions. If you wish to waste your life, devote yourself to debating what people will be eating two centuries from now and what type of cars they will be driving. On the other hand, if you want to attain a specific goal, walk fast but keep your steps small.

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

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

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



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The entrepreneurial element in love and happiness. How to be fearless. My approach to personal development. Taking initiative leads to continuous improvement


Aristotle was a great philosopher, but entrepreneurship was one thing that he never managed to understand. In the Nicomachean Ethics, his essay on justice and morality, he views society as a market where human desires are stable, where the demand for each product is constant, and each purchase has a predictable price.

One does not need to look at the world for long to rate Aristotle's view as highly unrealistic. The truth is that, in the field of work and commerce, prices vary incessantly. New products appear daily on the market. Growing ventures create jobs, while old-fashioned industries are reducing the number of their employees. Trading conditions change, markets move, and money circulates.


Economic growth begins with one person making the first move

Businessmen are conscious of the fact that initiative leads to success. Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of innovation. Economic growth begins with one person making the first move and showing the way. In order to surpass average results, a man has to step out of the routine.

In the world of business, clients and profits are the result of entrepreneurship. A company that has profitable sales can always borrow money. Bankers seldom refuse a loan to businesses that generate positive cash-flow. Personal initiative fuels innovation and drives companies to higher levels of performance.

The situation is not much different in the area of relationships. Friendship and love grow stale without personal initiative. Developing a happy social life requires a certain type of entrepreneurship. This is a factor that cannot be replaced by any amount of wishful thinking.


The entrepreneurial factor in love and happiness is frequently underrated

Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial factor in love and happiness is frequently underrated or denied. Television repeatedly shows stories where success happens by chance. Films love to portray heroes who attain happiness by coincidence without any effort from their side. Those tales are mostly made-up and a wise man should never take them as a fair representation of reality.

Entrepreneurial activity involves shifting resources through time and space. A businessman might, for instance, borrow money at 6% interest in order to invest it for a 10% return. If he does that several times with growing sums of money, chances are that he will become very wealthy.

The example can be applied to the field of relationships. If you wish to enjoy a great social life in the future, you should make the effort to establish new contacts regularly. Even if you just meet one new person per week, sooner or later, you will get to know a few individuals who share your values.


Entrepreneurs are always alert to unexpected opportunities

Friendships and love relations can begin in the most unusual circumstances. The key requirement is that individuals should be open to an initial contact. Brief introductions may lead to further interactions that develop into long-term relationships. This is why entrepreneurs are always alert to unexpected opportunities and love to meet new people. You will observe the same attitude in those who enjoy happy social lives.

Entrepreneurial minds can be spotted by their extreme impatience at school or during their apprenticeship. They dislike slow motion and are driven towards activities that produce tangible results. They want to lead a life of growing improvement and continuous progress. They view speed as a synonym of efficiency.

Let me encourage you to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude in the area of personal relationships. Everybody has constrains in terms of time and resources, but those limitations should not prevent you from seeking out opportunities to meet new people whom you might find interesting.

Conferences that revolve around your favourite subjects constitute great places for meeting like-minded individuals. In the majority of cases, those initial contacts will not lead to friendship or love and that is precisely the way it should be.

Entrepreneurs are only interested in opportunities that are right for them. They know that, before they can embrace one successful idea, they will have to discard many others that lead nowhere. Possibilities are infinite, but resources are always limited.


Accepting that choices have to be made

Applying entrepreneurial principles to the field of personal relationships entails accepting that choices have to be made. The following three ideas might help you improve your effectiveness in developing new social contacts, either for friendship or love:

1. The world is asymmetric


The notes in the agendas of entrepreneurs are often disorganized. Possibilities for personal growth and social development seldom present themselves in a predictable manner. Meeting new people can be a messy, uncomfortable process.

When personal contacts go beyond a brief introduction, we often realize that our first impression of someone was wrong. Language and cultural differences can be misleading. The world is not arranged according to geometric patterns. Social opportunities fluctuate and can be highly asymmetric. The best you can do is to view the world as a playing ground for your individual initiative.

2. Targets move


Entrepreneurs realize that new possibilities are continuously being created. As time goes by, windows of opportunity appear and disappear. The same phenomenon takes place in the field of personal relationships. Environments change. Tastes evolve. People come and go.

There is not just one unique place where you can meet potential friends or a soul mate. There is not just one day of the week when you can make new acquaintances. Targets move as you breathe. A person that you meet by chance might be exactly the sort of friend you need at this moment, or not at all. The more people you meet, the higher your chances of finding like-minded individuals.
 

3. Perspective changes perception

When a businessman decides to enter a new market, his resolution affects his attitude towards that field. If you are considering purchasing a car of a specific type, you will tend to focus your attention on those vehicles when you are driving on the highway.

The proportion of those cars in the street traffic would be the same as last week, but due to your change of perspective, you are now more aware of their presence. The same goes for opportunities of personal growth and social development.

If you adopt an entrepreneurial attitude towards friendship and love, you will be able to detect hidden possibilities in otherwise boring meetings. As you become more used to taking initiative, your results and self-confidence will improve, if only because you will discard quickly those relationships that don't work.


Taking initiative leads to continuous improvement

The ability to develop great relationships can be cultivated like any other. Taking initiative, seeking opportunities, and learning from mistakes lead to continuous improvement. At some point, when an entrepreneurial attitude towards relationships becomes your second-nature, you will have acquired a fundamental skill to further your personal happiness.

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

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

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

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Rationality is the way to happiness. The best approach to personal development. Do not waste time trying to impress people who don't care about you. Reason brings about resilience and persistence

Human action produces the greatest benefits when it is focused on providing rational solutions to critical problems. A wise man uses logic to determine which difficulties are to be addressed with priority. He applies his energies to overcome major obstacles and ignores small inconveniences. 

Logic and consistency produce positive results

Given sufficient time, logic and consistency produce positive results. A rational approach to living gives you the ultimate advantage in the fields of investment, health, career, or relationships. Barring extreme bad luck or misfortune, ethical actions lead to happiness.

The easiest way to accelerate your personal growth is to concentrate your efforts on the area of your life where problems are most pressing. Successful managers apply this strategy to their businesses. For instance, when assembly difficulties slow down production in a furniture factory, the solution might call for simpler designs.

You only have one life to enjoy and it is up to you to decide which path to follow. Assess your situation objectively, placing facts above prejudice. Ignore empty promises and select your best alternative on solid grounds. 


Do not waste time trying to impress people who don't care about you

Do not waste time trying to impress people who do not care for you. Discard nonsense and embrace logic. Design your strategy according to reality. See what works well in the world and identify the keys to prosperity.

Complaining and wishful thinking are ineffectual. Ambitious goals can only be achieved through thoughtful plans and consistent implementation. Psychological balance can only be maintained through rational values and a sense of purpose.

Sound principles are as beneficial as they are demanding. Irrationality may seem comfortable in the short-term, but contradictions ultimately result in failure. Individuals determine their own future by their passion to turn dreams into reality and their logic in the choice of means. 


Reason brings about resilience and persistence

No matter how experienced you are, mistakes are inevitable. Reason brings resilience to passion and persistence to ambition. A wise man is not intimidated by difficulties. He sets goals and plans how to accomplish them. If barriers are too high, he will try to circumvent them. If the price is too expensive, he might look for alternatives.

Entrepreneurship epitomizes the rational approach to living. Innovative spirits do not ask if they can attain their objectives, only how. Creative minds are always looking for better options. Originality is an essential element of success. Productiveness is a fundamental ingredient of happiness. 


Rationality is the key to self-reliance

Rationality enables self-reliance and logic sustains motivation. Do not allow lack of capital to stop your dreams, nor lack of contacts, nor massive ridicule. Seek out thoughtful, benevolent human beings who appreciate what you have to offer. Build your future around them and happiness will ensue.

History recounts the same tale again and again. When difficulties arise, scepticism turns into discouragement and irrationality into fear. Pragmatism leads to counter-productive actions and confusing results. Without a long-term perspective, problems soon strike the ship under the waterline. 


Embrace a philosophy that works

A fully human life is impossible without thoughtfulness. This principle is universal. It knows no exceptions. No one can escape it. Learn from experience, abandon wishful thinking, and embrace a philosophy that works. Rationality, determination, and consistency are the essential factors of happiness and prosperity. Let them carry the day.

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

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

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

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Stay away from aggressive people. Personal growth often requires us to step aside. How to be rational and find peace of mind. Fight less and enjoy life more


Few skills will add as much value to your life as the ability to avoid aggressive individuals. In any population group, irrespective of geography and cultural background, you will find at least 1% of persons that can constitute a serious threat.

The reasons for their aggressiveness might be of transitory nature, such as a mild depression caused by financial difficulties, or might be deeply ingrained in their personality. If you possess a generous spirit and feel inclined to comfort those men and women, please make a pause and think twice. Your actions, however well-intended, risk making things worse.


A realistic view of human nature 

Your willingness to help is commendable, but effective aid is only possible if your actions can improve the situation. If your assistance cannot bring about positive change, it will only cause irritation.

A realistic view of human nature calls for utmost circumspection when dealing with aggressive individuals. Disorderly minds defy logic. Without specialized expertise, it is difficult to determine the severity of someone's troubles.

Approaching those persons and intervening is seldom advisable. The risk of committing an error is too high, since they might interpret your friendly words as threatening and increase their hostility. Take heed of my advice and keep away from dangerous people.

An effective strategy for dealing with aggressive people

An effective strategy for dealing with aggressive individuals comprises two elements, namely, detecting and averting them. When you walk into an unknown territory and find yourself surrounded by a crowd, how can you recognize signs of potential trouble?

No matter where you work, you should never trust available security measures blindly. There is simply no guaranteed way to exclude the troublesome 1% from a large group of people. It is up to you to stay alert and ensure your own safety.


Clues to detect dangerous individuals

How will you be able to tell who constitutes a threat? The following four signals are clues that you can use to detect dangerous individuals. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you should be able to remark these behaviours when they occur:

* Threatening movements
* Repeated involvement in fights
* Irrational rigidity of attitudes or views
* Use of offensive or hurtful words

None of these factors is determinant by itself and each of them might denote other problems. Your goal, however, is not to pass judgement on strangers, but to protect yourself from danger. Aristotle considered prudence of crucial importance because this virtue ensures that you will be able to continue to play the game of life.

How should you react once you have identified a potential source of trouble? Trust your senses when it comes to detecting danger, but let your brains determine your course of action. Use your initiative and creativity to avert difficulties.

Ideally, you want to adopt cautious, discreet measures that spare you unnecessary conflict. Instead of confrontation, avoidance should be your preferred approach. Here are some practical examples:

1. Threatening movements


You are waiting at a queue to buy a cinema ticket and you see a man approach. He is walking exceedingly fast, bumping into passers-by, and he does not even stop to apologize. His face shows a stern expression, his eyes are focused on the sidewalk, and he is talking to himself, oblivious of his surroundings.

He is headed to collide with people waiting in the cinema queue. For a moment, you think of calling his attention, but your prudence takes over. You take a step backwards and let him go through.

2. Repeated involvement in fights


You hire a new recruit for your sales team, a young man who made an excellent impression during the interview. He possesses considerable drive and ambition, together with first-class verbal skills.

The young man seems to be the right kind of person to represent your company. During the interview, he gave good answers to your questions and you feel confident that you have made a great choice.

However, on his second week on the job, you perceive details that no longer match the first picture. On Tuesday morning, he comes to work unshaven, wearing yesterday's ruffled shirt, with a ketchup stain on his tie and a bruise on his forehead.

Gently, you draw his attention to how important it is for a salesman to give a professional image, but he tells you that he has been involved in a bar fight. Two weeks later, a similar episode takes place.

You hesitate for a short while, wondering if he is going through temporary difficulties. That might well be the case, but you know that you shouldn't take the risk of having any kind of aggression against co-workers. You summon the young man to your office and, regretfully, you fire him.
 

3. Irrational rigidity of attitudes or views

In the factory where you work, the Head of Finance assigns you to take part in a project with several persons from other departments. During the first meeting of the team, a participant defends an untenable approach and opposes all sensible suggestions from colleagues.

That person, whom you have never met before, makes an overall impression of obstinacy and does not even allow other team members to finish their sentences. His stubbornness surpasses all tolerable levels and goes as far as threatening anyone who disagrees with him. Should you face him head-on and engage in a verbal confrontation?

Your best option is to try to have all important decisions postponed and, as soon as the meeting is over, discuss the problem discreetly with a few team members that you trust. Then, together, you go to see the Head of Finance, tell him about the incident, and have the troublesome individual removed from the project.

4. Use of offensive or hurtful words


You meet a very attractive woman and begin to date her regularly. Her charms make her irresistible. You feel that you have met the woman of your life and start thinking of marrying her.

The only aspect that troubles you is that, from time to time, she gets disproportionately upset about problems or inconveniences. One evening, when you arrive late for dinner due to a traffic jam, she becomes enraged and attacks you verbally. You put the incident down to her having a bad day and forget about it.

However, after spending a weekend together, you inadvertently wash her blue dress with the white linen and she reacts furiously, shouting insults at you. As a result, you decide to stop seeing her and call yourself lucky for having detected the problem early enough.


Seek out kind, benevolent people as friends

Are these recommendations exaggerated? Should you always be on the watch for potential dangers? No, but you need to remain alert to a reasonable extent. Wise men know how to separate their desire to live in a perfect world from the reality of human experience.

When you detect an aggressive person, avoid automatic reactions and behave as prudently as you do in your everyday business dealings. Do not waste time trying to fix the problems of strangers. Instead, move on and seek out the company of benevolent, kind individuals, since those are the type of people that are going to make a positive difference in your life.


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

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

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

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Advantages and disadvantages of rational living. Self-improvement. Critical thinking skills. Be rational and find peace of mind. The beneficiaries of rational living


If you ever thought that the benefits of acting rationally in life are self-evident, you are wrong. In fact, nothing can be further from daily experience. Irrationality and short-term thinking are preached constantly by the media and, to a great extent, by the ethical ideas that dominate our society.

There are drawbacks to being rational

There are many drawbacks to being rational, as there are many negative consequences of being good. Contrary to what you might believe, people who behave foolishly or wickedly are not stupid. They may be uninformed or short-sighted, evil or self-destructive, but not stupid.

There are great personal advantages to be drawn from behaving appallingly. Nobody told us at school and, around us, most will deny it, but I believe that it is better to face the truth. Consuming refined sugar and saturated fat might lead to health problems in the long run, but it can be a great treat right now.

Thinking is neither effortless nor automatic


If you are enlightened enough to think otherwise, this will bring about positive results for you and for the world. My point is that you should not assume that others will automatically recognize your good choices as valid. Rational thinking must involve the realization that most people will not understand it. What are the reasons behind this phenomenon?

* IMMEDIATE BENEFITS. Short-term thinking often entails immediate pleasure or enjoyment of some kind. Children prefer chocolate chips to vegetables because they taste better. In terms of eating pleasure, you cannot argue otherwise. Without developed mental skills, childish and primitive behaviour is all you get.

* HIDDEN DRAWBACKS. Many negative consequences of irrational actions are difficult to figure out. Human beings took hundreds of years to understand basic facts about nutrition and how it affects biochemical processes. In our days, discussions are still ongoing about why we have strong cravings for low-quality food. Good nutrition is all but self-evident.

* PERCEIVED LOW-COST. The crucial contribution of economics to human thinking is that, when it comes to complex problems, no conclusion should be drawn without studying the complete picture. The acquisition price of an item can be judged cheap or expensive only if we consider its lifetime benefits. In the short run, you can save effort if you don´t brush your teeth. This is the sort of cheap omission that may bring you considerable long-term harm.

Rational living brings about enormous benefits


Even nowadays, when internet access has become commonplace for educated individuals, irrational thinking remains widespread in our world. It is undeniable that, on many occasions, foolish choices are encouraged by our social environment, but for a wise man, this should be no excuse.

Rational living brings about enormous benefits to society, but we cannot expect that, for every decision, individuals consider all possible consequences for third parties around the world. The great news is that advantages to society are automatic.
 

The beneficiaries of rational living

Luckily, the main beneficiary of rational thinking is the individual who makes correct decisions, frequently in opposition to his immediate social environment. Acquiring wisdom takes substantial effort and difficult short-term choices, but constitutes the only solid foundation of personal happiness.

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

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

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



Friday, 21 March 2014

The positive effects of reading good literature. Techniques for personal growth. A feasible, inexpensive approach to personal development. In fiction, we seek inspiration; in ethical ideals, validation

The work of the British writer Enid Blyton (1897-1968) is one of the great literary achievements of the 20th century. She wrote mainly for children and produced an average of 2 books per month during four decades.

Her writings have been translated all around the world. Irrespective of your cultural background, chances are that you have read one of her Famous Five stories, which recount the adventures of 4 children and a dog.
 

Popular success despite negative reviews

Despite the fact that some literary commentators show little appreciation for Blyton's work, her overwhelming popularity leaves little room for debate. Her readers, children in dozens of countries, adore her books. In our days, sales of her work continue to reach enormous figures, even though her stories play in a world without mobile phones and internet.

A celebrity leading a quiet and productive life


Most of Blyton's tales are set in an environment of rigid social classes and traditions, where people have pudding for lunch and tea in the afternoon. Her own life was relatively quiet, far from the ways and fashions of modern media celebrities.

The only unusual event, considering the times, is that she divorced her first husband whom she had married when she was 27 years old. At 46, she entered a second marriage that turned out to be very happy. She continued her massive literary output during the next decades, played tennis and golf regularly, and died at 71, shortly after her second husband.

An extraordinary determination leads to an extraordinary output


What is remarkable of Enid Blyton's life is, of course, her adamant determination to produce volume after volume at a very high speed. All her books were written at a time when word processors did not yet exist. The average novel for adults has about 90.000 words; in comparison, children novels tend to be short, less than 40.000 words. Nonetheless, Blyton's ability to produce hundreds of finished manuscripts during her lifetime is truly extraordinary.

While tradition and routine filled a good part of Enid Blyton's life, her children books embody the virtues of independence and entrepreneurship to an extent that few writers have equalled. In her stories, kids explore the world on their own and girls face danger with incredible courage.

Learning to face problems with courage


Blyton's under-age heroes make plans to achieve their goals, learn to deal effectively with adverse circumstances, overcome difficulties, and finally triumph. Even if some of her plots are slow, most of her main characters show relentless determination.

Young readers around the world may feel little admiration for the traditional English society that she depicts, but this aspect is immaterial to the success of her books. Blyton's skill consists of placing wonderful protagonists in constrained settings. She is a master at portraying boys' and girls' entrepreneurship against colourless backgrounds.

An exhortation to think for yourself


In her stories, Blyton uses culture, not as a summation of uncontested expectations, but as the ultimate literary ploy. Tradition is the giant to be fooled, the ancient clock that ticks aimlessly forward, the spider web that fills an uninhabited cave.

Meaningless routines do not make a world that children want to inhabit, nor any discerning adult for that matter. Enid Blyton's message to every young reader is that he should not base his decisions on questionable traditions; that he should think for himself and check things twice; that he should do what is right, which is not necessarily what people expect him to do.

Is it then a surprise that her books continue to delight millions of boys and girls around the world? As soon as a kid reads a volume of the Famous Five, he is hooked and won't stop until he gets hold of the complete series. Blyton's work originates the same fascination in young girls, who constitute 50% of the protagonists of her novels.


The virtues of focus and resourcefulness

 The conclusion is unmistakable: readers, especially children, love stories whose main characters show purpose and resourcefulness, independence and entrepreneurship. Let me also underline that Enid Blyton's books are remarkably non-violent. Physical aggression rarely plays a role in her stories, which focus more on the development of courage and self-reliance.

Will you follow the same principles the next time that you have to make an important decision? Let yourself be inspired by Blyton's stories and learn from her characters how to face life courageously. This is what draws children to her books, teenagers to video games, and adults to philosophy.

Reading good fiction will contribute to your personal growth


In fiction, we seek inspiration; in ethical ideals, validation. Blyton's stories awake moral reasoning in children, who understand the meaning without realizing the abstraction. As children turn into adults, independent thinking and entrepreneurship are qualities to be cultivated further.

Blyton's tales have happy ends, where virtue triumphs over nastiness and deceit. Her characters, in particular the Famous Five, have helped millions of boys and girls around the world internalize ethical values. Children stories, however, are insufficient to provide guidance to run our lives effectively. That task belongs to philosophy, from which the best is still to come.


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

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

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


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Escaping conformity and short-term convenience. Personal development: How to be independent and find peace of mind. Moving continuously in the direction of your goals


Lies, sweet lies. How much we love them and what ridiculous price we are willing to pay for them! "Men should avoid the distractions of pretence and delusion," wrote German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the year 1842. "Expectations disconnected from reality always result in disappointment and sorrow."

Escape the trap of paralysis 

A clear perception of the world brings man unlimited rewards, but learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never without cost. Only by developing an ambitious and realistic vision of the future can man escape the trap of paralysis. Without sharply-defined objectives, we tend to fall into conformity, a bank from which we can borrow short-term convenience in exchange for a mortgage on our soul.

Take the time to reflect about what you want to achieve in life and try to condense your dreams in one sentence. Without self-starting motivation, man is easily blinded by a fog of contradictions that lead to expensive mistakes.


Self-preservation as a goal

Only a self-image of health can permanently prevent individuals from consuming unhealthy food. People who have not established self-preservation as a goal, keep on consuming damaging substances despite being aware of their long-term negative effects, in the illusion that, somehow, they alone will be immune to the consequences.

The same principle applies to decaying work environments. Men and women who have not determined ambitious long-term objectives for themselves, tend to close their eyes to signs of decline in the company they work for in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative employment.


Avoid people who drag you down

 Write down your own vision of the future and keep it where you can see it. Defining your destination will help you avoid wrong relationships and avert people who drag you down. Men who lack firm ethical values tend to ignore character flaws in people they meet and often go as far as attributing non-existent virtues to whomever they find sexually attractive, even if that person is manifestly keeping them away from the path of achievement.

Defining your goals in life will not render you immune to errors, but will help you minimize them. When it comes to choosing the right alternative, few habits are as effective as standing still, questioning what looks too good to be true, and checking its consistency with your established objectives.

Schopenhauer and the
unclouded vision of reality

"Only an unclouded vision of reality allows man to perceive truth," observed Schopenhauer. "Decisions based on facts render individuals self-supporting, which is the key of happiness." History shows that lack of rational values, more than ignorance, constitutes the main block to progress. A man should never forget that his advancement towards success and happiness depends on his loyalty to his own rational objectives.

Write down your fundamental goals and summarize them in one sentence. Restate your vision of the future at every opportunity and discard options that don't match it. Only by our achieving philosophical clarity can our actions be consistent and effective. Moving continuously in the direction of your goals will maximize your chances of success and happiness.


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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Consistency is the key to clear thinking. How to overcome anxiety, worry, and stress. How to be fearless and enjoy live more. Sharp thinkers look far into the future

Consistency is the key to clear thinking. Aristotle described the principles of logical reasoning already in the year 345 B.C. Twenty four centuries later, his conclusions remain applicable. Entities should be defined on the basis of their essential characteristics. Actions lead to consequences. Today's events are the result of previous occurrences. Those few principles govern reality.

How to formulate your long-term objectives

When a man formulates his long-term objectives, he should strive to write them clearly and break them down into simple steps. A comprehensive philosophy that cannot be summarized into a few sentences is of little practical use.

Ambitious goals require sustained effort, often over a period of decades. Reducing complex strategies to simple formulas motivates us to attain intermediate targets. Happiness is the result of preceding actions that generate slow incremental progress. Sharp thinkers look, at the same time, far into the future and close into the present.


You cannot escape the requirement of clarity

There is no way of escaping the requirement of clarity. Talking about forthcoming achievements becomes irrelevant if we are unable to define what we need to do today. The feasibility of long-term ambitions depends on man's ability to reduce them to sequential steps.

Mistakes arise from the temptation to move too fast towards our objectives. Disorganized ventures fall prey to their own chaos. Without a well-designed plan, self-reliance turns into doubt and convictions into prejudice. Without a method to filter out irrelevancies, man gets lost in secondary roads that lead him away from his goals.


Unclear expectations undermine reason

Lack of thoughtfulness leads to exaggerate problems and blow inconveniences out of proportion. Unclear expectations undermine reason. Confusion renders tasks heavier than they have to be. Contradictory values bring about unbridled emotions. Inconsistent criteria waste energy in endless discussions and destroys the ability to perform well.

In the kitchen, only detailed recipes give consistent results. Eating well is the overall objective, but actual cooking relies on specific ingredients, temperature, seasoning, and a formula that combines them. Failing to identify concrete elements of action makes impossible to implement plans and deprives man of confidence on his own abilities.

Imprecise plans and performance criteria blind our eyes. Today's random actions destroy yesterday's creations. Self-inflicted contradictions lead to failure, anger, and anxiety. A company whose employees render erratic, unpredictable services is doomed. Never trust individuals who are long on philosophical talk and short on implementation details.


Condense your strategy into a simple formula

Quality controls are useless if people don't know what they are doing. Quality requires clear objectives, purposeful thinking, and continuous action. If you want to be taken seriously, break down your twenty-year goals into monthly steps. The workable approach to happiness is a rational connection between our present actions and our life objectives.

Manufacturers follow a production formula to ensure that they are using the right materials. Check-lists permit managers to assess if a worker is sufficiently trained to do his job. A company's compensation plan aligns the interests of employees with the corporate goals.

Nobody can figure out all right answers all the time, but if you condense your strategy into a formula, mistakes will be self-correcting. Chaos leads to more chaos, but a recipe can be improved from experience. Breaking down long-term goals into detailed steps is of critical importance in business and private life.


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

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

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

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Get out, move ahead, and don't look back. The rational approach to escaping bad relationships. When someone says that you have no choice, give yourself a break

 

People become discouraged and despondent in relationships because, at a certain moment, they believe that they have no options. This is not true, unless you suffer from terminal illness and you have no time left. Wherever you live, whatever your occupation, alternatives exist to bad relationships.

The rational approach to escaping bad relationships


An active mind is a precious treasure that is given to every human. If you doubt this, look at children. Their curiosity and excitement are irrepressible. An entrepreneurial spirit is not something you have to acquire, but your natural due. If later in life, you find that missing, you just need to reclaim it.

There are plenty of unexplored possibilities when it comes to meeting new friends and lovers. In each case, you might need to exert effort, look around, and experience some rejection. That's part of the price you pay for growing as a human being.

Once we are equipped with an entrepreneurial attitude, we should actually love it when someone calls our dreams unrealistic. In particular, when that person adds some trite remark, such as "in life, we cannot always get what we want." That's a sign for us to take action.

Get out, move ahead, and don't look back


If your parts supplier expects you to make your purchases at exorbitant prices, find a new supplier. If your internet provider acts as though you have no choice, change providers. If your computer repair shop informs you that they are the only experts in that brand of computer, throw away the old computer and purchase another brand.

If your bank announces that you have no other place to save, open accounts in three other banks. If your plumber tells you that your have to pay too much, learn how to replace the water tabs yourself. If a painter tells you that you can do things only his way, hire someone else to paint your house.

The examples above apply equally to a bad relationship or marriage. The time to step out of them is now, even if you cannot immediately figure out where to go next. You should make your priority number one to escape a situation that makes you feel unappreciated and belittles your best qualities.

What about geographical constraints? Moving to another region or country to build a new life seems so complicated that most people don't give it much thought. Nevertheless, every year, millions of men and women go and live in another country in search of better conditions or to break completely with miserable past relationships.

When someone says that you have no choice, give yourself a break


Look hard at your situation and question why, when and how. Once you decide to replace a failed relationship with a better future, your eyes will begin to detect opportunities that you had never seen before.

When people express the view that you should be content with what you have, don't get upset and refrain from giving a snappy reply. Useless discussions are not going to save the day. More often than not, you will be better off if you just nod, smile, and move on.

The world is full of possibilities to connect with wonderful people and build great relationships. Don't waste a minute with those that believe that there is only one path to walk. You have better things to do.


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 dherman1145 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Paracelsus' great teachings and his great mistake. Personal development in a hostile environment. How to be rational and find peace of mind. Stop fighting and enjoy life more


At the beginning of the 16th century, life expectancy in Europe was much shorter that nowadays. Typhus and tuberculosis were fairly common. Influenza and common colds were lethal for undernourished peasants plagued by vermin and lice. Large numbers of deaths took place every winter.

The knowledge from ancient Greece and Rome

 Medicine at that time was evolving from mysticism into science. Renaissance physicians took over the knowledge from ancient Greece and Rome, developed their own ideas, and began to experiment with new treatments. The sale of curative herbs and potions was a booming business, although few of those remedies actually proved beneficial to patients.

When wealthy merchants became sick, they had the means to pay for the services of the best physicians, from which there were only a few in each city. Since Universities produced small numbers of graduates, tending to the sick was a lucrative and prestigious occupation.


New ideas generate both opportunity and risk

The discovery of new medical knowledge generated opportunity and risk. On the one hand, innovative cures benefited patients and created the basis for further research. On the other hand, new remedies disrupted the established business of physicians and pharmacists.

Medical practitioners had little incentive to abandon useless treatments for which they could charge hefty fees. The discovery of inexpensive natural remedies undermined their incomes and reputations.


Why did ignorance and prejudice persist?

Historical distance allows us to contemplate the 16th century with a feeling of superiority. When we read about the beliefs that people upheld five hundred years ago, we react with amusement. Why did knowledge evolve so slowly? Why did ignorance and prejudice persist for so long?

The best minds of the 16th century asked the same questions. Paracelsus (1493-1541) offers a striking example in the field of medicine. His real name was Theophrastus von Hohenheim, which he changed himself to Paracelsus. The philosophical lesson to be learned from his life goes far beyond the scope of medical techniques.

We know little of Paracelsus' infancy. Like many middle-class youths of his time, he must have picked up the rudiments of Latin through private lessons. A knowledge of Latin was the only formal requirement to study at European Universities. The choice of subjects was mostly limited to theology, medicine, and law.

While Paracelsus completed his medical studies in Ferrara (Italy), the pest broke out and began to decimate the population. Those who could afford it left Ferrara for the countryside in order to avoid contagion. The poor remained in town and the epidemic wiped out complete families.

He realized that the old solutions did not work


The municipality hired men to remove the sick from their houses and transport them to a closed camp outside the city wall, where they would be abandoned to die. Paracelsus, who was still a medical student, soon understood that medieval treatments, such as bleeding patients, were ineffective against the pest.

This realization led him to experiment with alternative methods. When the pest receded and normal life returned to Ferrara, Paracelsus presented his new ideas at the University. To his surprise, his views were met with scepticism and hostility. The professors in Ferrara did not welcome suggestions that contradicted inherited knowledge.

After graduation, Paracelsus travelled extensively throughout Europe. Sometimes, he would settle down in a city to practice medicine for a year; on other occasions, he would take up a position as surgeon in one of the armies involved in the wars that ravaged the Renaissance.

Travelling allowed him to learn new skills


As his medical knowledge and expertise grew, so did his irritation with the incompetence of fellow physicians. Thanks to his wide travelling, Paracelsus had accumulated impressive surgical skills and long experience in the use of herbs and minerals for curative purposes. In contrast, the average medic in the 16th century possessed only the little knowledge that he had acquired at the University.

Paracelsus' effectiveness increased his fame, but his criticism of ignorant doctors made him many enemies. His conflicts with colleagues became extreme after he was appointed to teach medicine at the University of Basel (Switzerland).

With the perspective of five centuries, we can clearly see how unrealistic Paracelsus' expectations were. It was undeniable that he had acquired more knowledge than other physicians; nevertheless, it was chimerical for him to expect his colleagues to make way for truth when innovation undermined their livelihoods and reputations.


Why his attempts failed even if he was right

Is it not unfair that Paracelsus had to face such a strong resistance? Was his indignation at his ignorant colleagues not well justified? My point is that these questions are irrelevant because they are based on incorrect assumptions.

Unrealistic expectations are hard to discard because they are based on delusions of entitlement. Paracelsus felt wrongly entitled to reshape the world according to truth and innovation, even though the great majority of his contemporaries had vested interests in clinging to the past.

As a result, Paracelsus was forced to quit his position at the University of Basel a year later and return to his itinerant life. Although he was one of the best physicians of his time, he died in poverty before his 48th birthday.

A major philosophical lesson


The fact is that knowledge, expertise, or desire do not grant magical powers to anyone. Unrealistic expectations lead to waste and decay. A workable plan is worth a million debates. Let go of chimerical projects and focus on what can be reasonably accomplished. Stay away from grandiose undertakings and concentrate on entrepreneurship, which is the practical way to achievement.

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

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

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


Saturday, 15 March 2014

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

Friday, 14 March 2014

Stay focused and don't stray from the path. Distractions are many and increase by the hour. Focus involves selection and elimination. Your determination will wane if you don't restate your goals every day

Contrary to trains, cars can change direction at the driver's will. Along the highway, billboards invite us to stop by and visit all sorts of tourist attractions. On the car radio, advertisers present us their wares, some useful and convenient, others pricey and counter-productive. 

Distractions are many and increase by the hour

The longer the trip, the harder it becomes to keep the vehicle on the right track. If you carry passengers in your car, they will express their views about what you are trying to do. "Turn around and return," you will be told, "stop and let it go."

Our environment offers us support at the same time that it places obstacles in our path. Physical barriers are visible and material problems can be directly faced. If you experience hunger or extreme discomfort, your attention will seldom be deviated from the issue at hand. Pressing needs demand immediate action.

Stonewalls will seldom prevent your progress, since they can circumvented. Nor the price of gasoline, food, and lodging. Your delays will be caused more often by doubts than by certainties. Your lack of progress will be more frequently due to shifting convictions than to insufficient means.


Focus involves selection and elimination

Thinking is not automatic. Observing reality and reaching correct conclusions requires effort. Focusing your mind on what is relevant involves selecting and discarding. Establishing goals and taking consistent action demands concentration. No one but yourself is going to ensure that your current concerns are aligned with your long-term interests.

Unless you remind yourself daily of your priorities, chances are that you will spend your time dealing with the latest emergency, only to discover later, that the problem was inconsequential. Noise distorts music in the same way that fashion distorts principles. Not by contesting them, but by making them inaudible and invisible.

The reason why men read old philosophers is not to learn about the latest scandal, but to reaffirm essential truths. The news of the hour may entertain your attention and satisfy your curiosity. Novelties might provide you subjects for small talk with strangers, but superficiality leads to anxiety.


Your determination will wane if you don't restate your goals every day

Foolishness arises not so much out of ignorance, but out of the willingness to obliterate what we already know to be true. Balance and motivation require sharpness of intent. Unless you find a way to restate your goals every day, nonsense will contaminate reason and your determination will wane.

Personal objectives are meaningless if plans are not implemented. Relentless activity ensues from self-confidence, not from self-effacement. You need to find the manner to keep your purpose in view and your understanding fresh. Restate truth at every turn the road and ignore signs that tell you to stall.


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

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

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

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Shrug your shoulders at rejections, and keep going after your goals. How persistent are you in pursuing your crucial interests? What are you doing today in order to improve your skills?


No writer was ever such a failure in life as Henry Miller before his mid-forties and seldom has any successful contemporary author ever received such limited financial compensation for his books during his lifetime. Nevertheless, his rise as a literary power in the second half of the 20th century was as unstoppable as a tidal wave.

The first contact with Miller's novels leads most readers to an overwhelming silence, the nervous quietness that takes over the savannah after the last cry of an antelope that has just been put down by a hungry lion. 


Why is Miller's work so different from anything published until that time? Why does it generate such deep admiration?

The answer does not lie in the story-lines of Miller's books, since, to the extent that they have a plot, it is usually a messy one. His novels remain far away from the classical three-act structure of beginning, middle, and end, since the purpose of Miller's work is not to establish a direction, but to explore every bifurcation of the road.

The ascent of Miller's work in popular appreciation reflects the awakening of contemporary culture to the concerns of the individual, namely, self-fulfilment and philosophical integrity. His texts don't describe each character's motivation, but paint all necessary details to allow readers to come up with their own fresh perspective.

Miller composed his books using a portable, mechanical typing machine. The manuscripts, which are now deposited at public libraries in the United States of America, show corrections made by hand here and there, but not that many.

Whether you are attracted to Miller's books or not, there are important lessons to be drawn from his work methods. Those teachings might be of interest, not only to writers, but to anyone pursuing demanding long-term ambitions. 


Like an old-time travelling salesman, Miller never hesitated to propose his work to any potential buyer that he could find, in his case, book and magazine publishers. More often than not, rejection was quick to come, frequently accompanied by unfavourable comments. 

Decade after decade, Miller shrugged his shoulders at rejections, and kept on searching for publishers who would appreciate his work.

Despite difficulties, he always maintained a constant purpose all through his life. Have you ever had your possessions stolen or your house burnt down to the ground? Have you gone through bankruptcy? Have you had your assets sold at a public auction to pay your creditors?

Tragic as these events may be, experience shows us that victims react differently: A few suffer a nervous breakdown from which they never recover. Many are psychologically paralysed for months. Others immediately get back on their feet and start to rebuild their lost fortune.

In the case of Miller, problems did not take the shape of bankruptcy or material loss, but he did have his novels rejected many times before publication. In addition, distribution of his best-selling novel "Tropic of Cancer" was forbidden in some countries for years for reasons of public morality. 


Without the ability to maintain a lifetime perspective, Henry Miller would have given up his literary ambitions a thousand times along the way.

Miller also worked relentlessly. How much your dreams mean to you is a question that no one can answer without examining every aspect of your motivation. In any case, if there is one thing that you can learn from Miller, is that it pays to choose a passion that allows you to exert your talents everyday, during good and bad times.

This principle was so ingrained in Miller's mind that, when he was not working on a new book, he would spend his time painting. His watercolour canvasses did not earn him millions, but he sold many of them, creating in this way a secondary source of income for himself.

How persistent are you in pursuing your crucial interests? What are you doing today in order to improve your skills? Recent medical studies seem to indicate that passion and dedication contribute positively towards helping human beings reach old age in good health. I am not sure if this is true, but the fact is that Henry Miller lived to become 89 years old.

Whether medical advances will one day extend human lifespan to 120 years is a matter of speculation. In the meantime, chances are that you will live to become 80 years old. May each of your birthdays serve to commemorate the achievement of a higher step in your rise towards your ambitions.


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