Saturday, 31 May 2014

How Aristotle can bail you out. Exaggerating problems is a common phenomenon. Consistency is the key to clear thinking. A proven system for reaching accurate conclusions


Consistency is the key to clear thinking. Aristotle wrote about the principles of reality in the year 345 B.C. In our days, his conclusions still remain fully applicable. What is even better, Aristotle's teachings can be summarized in a single sentence: "Identity and causality rule the world."

Consistency is the key to clear thinking

There is no way of escaping these two principles. They apply to everything we do, to our perceptions and to our thinking. When we make mistakes, the reason always lies in our attempt to breach one of these two fundamental truths.

1. A breach of the rule of identity occurs when we perceive qualities that do not exist in reality. How often do we assess too quickly a person, an object, or a situation, only to realize later how flawed our initial perception was? Exaggerating problems for emotional reasons, an all too common phenomenon, is the quintessential breach of the principle of identity.

2. Causality is simply identity in motion. If we assume wrongly that human beings possess no capacity to think, we won't be able to understand what people do everyday. Failing to identify the true characteristics of an individual makes impossible to predict how that person will act in the future.

Our understanding of the rules of identity and causality determines the success of our private and professional endeavours. Acting in breach of any of these two principles is a sure way to financial losses and personal tragedy. In business, those who strive to respect these two principles will be rewarded with efficiency, progress, and innovation.


Exaggerating problems is a common phenomenon

Ignoring the characteristics of human beings, their identity, is tantamount to blinding our eyes. Anger, depression, and business failure are often the result of such attempts. Imagine for instance a situation when a manager realizes that the quality of the services rendered by his employees is erratic and unpredictable. How can he apply Aristotle's rules to solve the problem?

A wrong approach would be to choose a rigid quality control system and implement it immediately across the board. Since the manager has not bothered to study his problem and identify the cause of the erratic quality, the new control system will do little good. Instead, it is likely to alienate employees and slow down operations.


A proven system for reaching accurate conclusions

The Aristotelian method demands a rational assessment of the facts. Are we using the right materials? Is every member of the team well trained to do his work? Do we have a compensation system in place to align the interests of the individuals with the goals of the company? Should we improve our processes? Are we using the most efficient technology?

Nobody is able to figure out the right answers every time, but if you use the proper methodology, mistakes will be self-correcting. The principles of identity and causality offer us a proven system for reaching accurate conclusions. Use the Aristotelian way of thinking to your advantage and you will achieve your goals twice as fast.


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

Friday, 30 May 2014

The most difficult choice in life. He made attempts for nine years and received dozens of rejections. Is it worth it to take such a risk? Looking for better opportunities


Giacomo Raffaelli discovered his passion for drawing already when he was a kid playing in the streets of the Trastavere district in Rome. His father died in 1765, when Giacomo was only 12 years old, leaving him no other choice than to take a job at his uncle's quarry.

Looking for better opportunities

Work at the quarry was all-consuming and Giacomo had no time to devote to drawing, but he found an opportunity to get closer to art when he was 15 years old.

One afternoon, while Giacomo's uncle was away, a priest walked into the quarry and requested a quotation for coloured stones to repair medieval mosaics at Santa Cecilia Church. Giacomo made a quick calculation, offered a good price, and received the commission. As of that day, he began to learn everything he could about mosaics.

It did not take Giacomo long to start a business of his own by offering his services to churches to repair old mosaics or to lay new ones. The drawing abilities required by mosaics were modest, since most scenes consisted of geometrical decorations, flowers, and animals.

Year after year, Giacomo longed to land a commission for a large mosaic that would let him display his artistic talent, but that was not to be. At night, he would spend hours by the fire making drawings for grandiose mosaics, but the costs of European wars had dried out the funding for new projects.

The mosaics business slowed down during the French invasion of Italy and Giacomo took to spending whole days at home making drawings for his future masterpiece. With the drawings in hand, he made a tour of churches and monasteries, trying to obtain a commission for his project, a twenty-meter long mosaic representing the Garden of Eden.


He made attempts for nine years and received dozens of rejections

Giacomo made attempts for nine years and collected 82 rejections from places as far away as Ravenna and Aix-en-Provence. Only in December 1809, the Church of San Giovanni Laterano showed interest in a scaled-down version of the Garden of Eden project.

The price offered by the San Giovanni Church was so low that made it almost impossible for Giacomo to break even, let alone make a profit, precisely at a time when he needed money, since he had recently married Simonetta Cappella, a petite 32 year-old Venetian widow.

Is it worth it to take such a risk?

Still, the commission from the San Giovanni Church would give Giacomo a unique opportunity to make a name for himself and gain recognition as an artist. Giacomo was then close to his 57th birthday. Was it worth it for him to take such a risk? Should he not rather concentrate on his profitable mosaic-repair business?

A visit from a captain of the Imperial Dragons in January 1810 took Giacomo by surprise. "Emperor Napoleon is in Rome and wants to discuss a commission with you," announced the captain.

Excited by the prospect of a major commission, Giacomo collected his drawings of the Garden of Eden and followed the captain to a villa in the Pallatino.

Emperor Napoleon greeted Giacomo warmly and, by means of an interpreter, explained that he had seen himself the high quality of Giacomo's work and that he was planning to grant Giacomo a commission for a large mosaic at the Minoriten Church in Vienna.

"I will be marrying the Duchess of Parma this summer," went on Napoleon. "The mosaic will be my wedding present." Giacomo then tried to show his Garden of Eden drawings, but the Emperor shook his head. "The Duchess has already chosen a design for the mosaic. She wants to have a copy of Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper. Can you do that?"

Napoleon's request made Giacomo's heart stand still for a second. The Emperor was offering him a commission to make a copy of an old painting! To copy another artist's work! When Napoleon mentioned the price of the commission, Giacomo asked the interpreter to repeat it. It was a real fortune, more money than Giacomo had ever made in all his life.

The Emperor had not expected to see Giacomo hesitate. What was that man thinking? Any other artisan in the French Empire would have immediately accepted such a generous commission. "I need a day to think it over," replied Giacomo after taking a deep breath. "I have to consult my wife."

The most difficult choice in life


Giacomo returned home, only to find a priest from the San Giovanni Church waiting for him. "Cardinal Mazzelli wants to know if you accept the commission for the Garden of Eden mosaic," inquired the priest. "Otherwise, the money will be used to make repairs in the apse."

That night, Giacomo had a long discussion with Simonetta. Their first child was on the way and Cardinal Mazelli's price was twenty times lower than Napoleon's offer. "Take the Emperor's commission, Giacomo," concluded Simonetta. "You will have other opportunities later to do the Garden of Eden."

Giacomo knew that Simonetta was lying, but he loved her too much. What if he never had another chance to prove himself as an artist? What if he consumed his life making silly decorations and reproducing other artists' works? He spent the night contemplating his Garden of Eden drawings and, in the morning, he accepted Napoleon's commission.

The mosaic at the Minoriten Church in Vienna made Giacomo Raffaelli a rich man. He lived comfortably for another twenty-six years and had five children with Simonetta.

In our days, the mosaic reproducing Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper can be still admired in Vienna, although it has lost most of it colours.

Giacomo Raffaelli's drawings of the Garden of Eden were purchased by a collector in 1838 and, still today, they remain in private hands. Those who have seen the drawings say that they are astonishingly beautiful.
 


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

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Draw a sharp picture of your future. Psychological well-being requires a strong sense of direction. Only clear definitions make personal satisfaction sustainable


How would you rate your current level of happiness from 1 to 10? If you are already experiencing the highest levels of personal satisfaction, congratulations. Most people aren't. My next questions is even more sensitive. If you were to assume for yourself a life expectancy of 80 years, at what levels of happiness are you aiming for the rest of your life?

Men and women who are already enjoying a great life worry about how they are going to maintain it year after year. Those living in less than perfect conditions are usually full of hope for a better future. The crucial question is, of course, how we get there.

If happiness is a long shot, it pays to aim as close as possible. How can we make sure that we are moving in the right direction? These three principles have often helped me sharpen my focus:

Only clear definitions make personal satisfaction sustainable 

People have different ideas of what it means to be happy, but this does not mean that random events possess the capacity to improve your life.

Happiness is composed of specific experiences that we long to have. Well-being is a positive event, something that we crave, a place where we want to be. Make an effort to draw a detailed picture of your ambitions so that it serves you as compass while you are walking through the desert.

Happiness involves the avoidance
of undesirable events

At a very minimum, it demands the postponement of death. What negative elements do you need to keep away in order to be happy? Make the list as long as you need. Pain and sickness should be amongst the things to avert. The same goes, for most people, for poverty and discomfort.

Your compilation of negatives won't be finished before you add names of certain persons, or perhaps types of persons, that you deeply dislike. The purpose of this exercise is to make you conscious of which negative aspects you consider incompatible with happiness.

Psychological well-being requires a strong sense of direction

This crucial aspect is often overlooked. Lacking a sense of direction is equivalent to trusting luck for raising your personal level of satisfaction. Clarity of purpose gives an individual a target to achieve and a path to follow.

Steps taken with the right destination in mind are likely to improve the quality of your experiences, at least in the long term. Your life should flow towards your objectives. Steer your way to pursue your specific goals, while at the same time, try to keep off those negative aspects that you wish to avoid.


Draw a sharp picture of your future

Whatever your present situation, achieving a better future is going to involve substantial work. Most people are able to motivate themselves for a short while, but they are quick to give up when they meet the first difficulties.

Draw a sharp picture of your future and that vision will provide you with a clear sense of direction. Only consistent, rational ambitions sustain the long-term motivation that allows individuals to reach the highest levels of happiness.


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

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Are you able to face a painful loss without giving up hope for the future? Worrying about bankruptcy is not bankruptcy itself. The key to maintaining your peace of mind in times of stress

No matter how hard you work or how motivated you are, sooner or later, bad luck is going to hit you. Otherwise, someone acting negligently or mistakenly might cause your misfortune. Some people are victims of a general shift in the economy, others of a car accident. Adversity just happens.

Are you able to face a painful loss without giving up hope for the future?

Recovering your peace of mind when life turns for the worse is a major achievement. Difficult periods test the validity of your personal philosophy and rightly so. Can your convictions help you regain serenity? Are you able to face a painful loss without giving up hope for the future?

Many books recommend naive optimism and groundless enthusiasm as psychological defences, but none of them works for long. The human mind cannot sustain effectively beliefs that are not anchored in reality. Self-manipulation, instead of creating joy, leads to bitterness and confusion.

What is the first step to improve your mood when your world seems to be falling apart? My recommendation is to focus on reality. Forget about empty positivity and gratuitous cheers. What you need to do is to look hard at your problems and measure them. Assess the damage and count what is left.


Worrying about bankruptcy is not bankruptcy itself

An analysis of the situation should allow you to identify the real trouble. It might be sickness or the loss of a job. It could be an exploitative relationship or a wrong career. Whatever the affliction, it is essential to separate the actual problem from the emotional reaction. Worrying about bankruptcy is not bankruptcy itself.

Make an effort to distinguish the facts from the folklore around the facts. Unless you are in jail or suffering from terminal illness, most situations can be turned around. We all possess an innate inclination to exaggerate our misfortunes to a ridiculous extent. Emotions magnify problems.

The rational response to adversity begins with reducing difficulties to their proper size. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by seemingly endless negative consequences that might occur in the future. Force yourself to drop irrational concerns and concentrate exclusively on the problem at hand.

The key to maintaining your peace of mind in times of stress


Sickness is destructive and unpleasant, but you might still have many years left to enjoy life. A loss of employment or reputation can reduce your current income, but nothing prevents you from changing direction. To rebuild your finances, there are countless options that you can explore.

To recover your peace of mind, you don't need to become optimistic. What you want to gain is perspective, the path to serenity. Can you appraise your concerns and muster enough strength to shrug your shoulders? Try to say "so what?" and mean it. Once you get past that point, you are on your way.


Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Rationality can only be developed by choice. Opportunities for personal development have multiplied. Without activity, there is no motion

The perception that achievement should be either immediate or impossible is wrong. Important things frequently demand substantial time, as it is the case of relationships. It makes no sense to put pressure on the wrong places. Some things take as long as they take. The process of reaching our goals is to be enjoyed, not frivolously discarded as a waste of time.

Rationality can only be developed by choice

 Substantial skills, like learning a foreign language, require months or years of effort. In life, you have plenty of time to find your own way. If you think that this is not the case, check your priorities and simplify your activities.

"Some talents are innate and others are acquired through practice," wrote Aristotle in the year 328 B.C. "While the movement of animals is governed by the law of cause and effect, the essential characteristic of human beings, rationality, can only be developed by choice."

Centuries of decay followed the fall of the Roman Empire. For generations, fear replaced rational discourse as the primary means of human interaction. In many fields, knowledge remained inaccessible to the great majority of the population. As a result, life expectancy dramatically decreased.

Conditions improved in the 13th century. The transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance opened a wide range of opportunities for talented individuals. Towns attracted tradesmen and merchants, who manufactured utensils, made clothes, and built houses.

In Italian cities, like Florence and Venice, the wealth created by entrepreneurs brought into existence a market for artists. Upward social mobility became possible to an important segment of the population in the time of the great Renaissance artists, such as Botticelli and Michelangelo. 


Opportunities for personal development have multiplied

In our days, despite problems and difficulties, opportunities for personal development have multiplied in many countries to the extent that they are practically endless, making easier for every individual to explore the fields in which he is interested and find his own path.

Millions of men and women are now enjoying levels of prosperity that would have been unthinkable for the wealthiest prince in the Middle Ages. The advent of the internet and the global economy are tearing down barriers to entrepreneurship. We are living at the beginning of a new period of economic growth that may offer countless opportunities for each person to determine his own future.

The 21st century is the age of the empowered individual. We inhabit an environment where many businesses can be started with negligible upfront investment. Innumerable doors are open to personal initiative and skills, giving each of us almost infinite opportunities to find our own way towards happiness and success.

Business has become international, but the low-cost of internet communication gives us instant access to all corners of the earth. If you feel short-changed in any way, make a pause and look at things with perspective. If you are lucky enough to live in an industrial economy, you will not lack chances for personal development. 


Without activity, there is no motion

In moments of pessimism, remind yourself that the digital media are decreasing educational costs for everyone, that information about job openings is available on line, that inexpensive software applications are readily available, and that the cost of incorporating a company remains low in many jurisdictions. Chances are that you have more opportunities than you think.

"Materials and substances are not enough to produce change," observed Aristotle. "The fact that something can be transformed, does not mean that it will. Without activity, there is no motion." Let us devote our days to turning what we have into something more valuable. Let your willingness to perceive opportunities turn yourself into a motor of change.


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

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The eight basic human needs never change. Where you should focus your productive efforts. The best way to reduce career stress and anxiety. The rational approach to increasing your self-confidence

Do not be afraid of selecting a demanding career path as long as it leads you to a crowded market. Before embarking on any long-term venture, make a pause and assess how that project relates to the eight fundamental human needs. Here is a check list that you can use.

1. Food


 
The objectives of food technology are to increase productivity, quantity, and quality. Population growth, in particular in developing countries, requires higher agricultural output at lower cost. On the other hand, consumers in industrialized countries are demanding better quality.

Research and development efforts in the food industry are not focused only on production but also on distribution. Improved packaging and logistics are as important as better agricultural techniques. Still today, large amounts of food are ruined during transportation and storage.



2. Health services


In addition to the development of new patentable drugs, efforts are being devoted to improving hospital management. Pilot projects carried out in the last decade have shown that a better organization of resources can slash patients waiting time at the same time that overall costs are reduced.


3. Housing


The last decade has led to overbuilding in some areas and new construction activity should concentrate on the most profitable segments of the market. Pre-manufactured housing is still underdeveloped in many countries and can be expected to grow in the 21st century.


4. Clothing

The internet has changed how the fashion industry operates. The separation of design and production is bound to continue during the next decades with an emphasis on increased speed. It is conceivable that, in the 21st century, the time that elapses from design to consumer purchase is reduced to a few days.


5. Communication and transportation



Ubiquitous internet access will continue to affect how we work, drive, and communicate. In the next years, the capabilities of mobile phones should equal those of laptop computers, improving our overall productivity and quality of life.

6. Culture and entertainment

Better digital audio and video technology will continue to increase the world's cultural output. The 21st century will multiply our choice of films, songs, books, and podcasts. What we have seen during the last decade is just the beginning.


7. Financial services


The gap between professional and personal money management will continue to close. The quality and speed of financial information should increase further in the next decades. Improved trading platforms on the internet will open additional markets to private investors, leading to more transparency and reduced risk.

8. Legal services

Pre-paid legal plans, which have become successful in some countries, will continue to expand in the next decades. Conflict-resolution services should also experience growth in the 21st century as more companies discover the effectiveness of arbitration in settling commercial disputes.

Irrespective of your business or profession, those markets will determine your future. Human needs revolve around those eight domains, which can be improved and enhanced, but not ignored. If you choose the narrow path of a difficult profession or career, make sure that it leads to one of those eight crowded places. 

 

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

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Five widespread ideas that are at odds with reality. Using rationality for personal development. The best approach against stress, anxiety, and depression

You have to let go of prejudices that prevent you from developing your potential; you have to discard traditions that are not in line with current opportunities. We live in an era of abundant resources and unlimited possibilities. 

Five widespread ideas that are at odds with reality

By throwing away ideas that do not work, we open the door to realistic plans, workable solutions, and satisfactory results. Let us review briefly five widespread convictions that are at odds with reality.

1. The idea that the purpose of life is to serve other people


The problem with this belief is that it is partly true. Interacting with other human beings and providing good service to them is highly rewarding. Men and women draw deep satisfaction from the gratitude of customers, patients, or clients.

On the other hand, helping strangers for the sake of achieving ethical perfection should not be taken to such an extreme that it destroys your life. Cost-effective service to customers can only be sustained permanently when it is provided commercially, that is, on a profit-making basis. Service rendered on the basis of personal sacrifice can be viable in some circumstances, but faces major difficulties to remain operational in the long-term.

2. The idea that you need someone else's approval to improve your life


Gregariousness is an essential component of the human psychology; we all love to be appreciated by friends and colleagues; on many occasions, honours and distinctions are as important as monetary rewards; nevertheless, this is not the same as professing that individuals are incapable of affecting their destiny unless they have obtained social approval.

In industrialized societies, personal initiative plays a determinant role in individual happiness. Innovation and change disrupt social structures; any person who deviates from the standard behaviour risks criticism and ostracism; innovators frequently find these psychological obstacles harder to overcome than lack of access to capital.

3. The idea that you have to content yourself with your current situation


Physical resources are indeed limited, but this fact should not prevent you from establishing ambitious goals for yourself. Money and other assets can be borrowed if you demonstrate that you can use them productively.

The global economy is a scenario where resources are continuously shifted from low to high productivity areas. Purpose and initiative play a crucial role in exploiting assets to the maximum; men with visionary business models discover new applications for old technologies and additional customers for existing products. Even if material resources are limited, the only constrain to economic growth is human creativity.

4. The idea that you are too young or too old to improve your life


Such restrictions never hold true overall, although they might apply to specific goals in certain environments; for instance, learning to play the piano at an advanced age can be a lot of fun, but it makes difficult to pursue a career as a pop artist.

Restrictions can often be lifted or circumvented by changing the context; goals can be slightly modified in order to seek better market opportunities; personal limitations can inspire us to figure out more effective approaches to make or sell products; careers can be redefined; professions can be combined in order to serve clients in surprising ways.

5. The idea that you should give up because you really have no chance


Despite the fact that extraordinary achievements are reported daily by newspapers, few people possess the strength of character to encourage friends and neighbours to pursue challenging goals.

Psychologically, watching the outstanding performance of athletes on television is less menacing that seeing a friend start up a business; praising the latest film of our favourite actor feels less threatening than supporting our spouse's dream to become a novelist. We do not mind being surpassed by those we have never met, but we dread the idea that someone close to us might grow faster than ourselves.



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

Friday, 23 May 2014

A comparison between the three main theories of ethics and happiness. Which one is best? A choice that has a major impact on personal development

From all branches of philosophy, ethics is the most practical. Values connect abstractions to decisions and morality provides guidelines to surmount difficult situations. Ethical systems are worthless if they are not aligned with reality and validated by facts.

A comparison between the three main theories of ethics and happiness


History has produced hundreds of different ethical teachings that work well in specific circumstances but fail catastrophically in other contexts. Fortunately, we can see if those philosophies pass the tests of veracity and practicality without having to examine them one by one. For the purpose of analysis, ethical systems can be grouped in three main types: the partial, the logical, and the teleological.

1. Fragmentary ethics


Fragmentary ethics consist of one or several precepts that are not comprehensive enough to constitute a system of thought. The vast majority of ethical convictions held by people can be classified as partial ethics.

Let me underline that moral principles enunciated in this manner are not necessarily false. Sometimes, flawless albeit incomplete guidelines are predicated; on other occasions, utter nonsense is put forward as ethical precept.

As examples of two well-meaning commandments, take for instance "protect the planet" and "help other people." Individuals who advocate such ethics usually possess good intentions, but their formulations are so fragmentary that cannot be implemented consistently.

If you want to protect the planet, you have first to define "planet." Does it involve only mountains or also animals and trees? If the concept encompasses animals, should it not include human beings as well? If plants and micro-organisms are both part of the planet, should you protect them from each other? Interesting questions, for which partial ethics cannot provide unassailable answers.

If your only ethical principle is to help other people, how do you determine which individuals you should assist with priority? If person A is expected to help person B, is person B required to help person A? What happens if B has a different opinion? Who will settle disagreements on the meaning and scope of the word "help"?

Partial ethics are unsatisfactory because they do not work in all circumstances. Principles such as those mentioned above are correct if applied in a certain context, but cannot be stretched to a full-blown system of morality. Life is too complex to navigate if you know only one thing. Man requires a thinking methodology, not just a list of unconnected precepts.


2. Logical ethics

Logical systems of ethics represent a major step forward in human thought. Their purpose is to create a morality that answers all questions, a method that can be applied to all events without incurring contradictions. In History, partial ethics often evolve to logical moral systems after it becomes obvious that man cannot make rational decisions on the basis of isolated precepts.

In contrast to partial ethics, logical moral systems are consistent. Their principles and guidelines are linked to each other. Their conclusions aim at universality in space and permanence in time. A well-rounded moral system should be able to guide individuals in any situation that they may encounter in their private or professional lives.

The "categorical imperative" originated by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is the best known system of logical ethics. According to Kant, true principles of morality must be universal, non-contradictory, and recognizable by reason. Decisions and actions are considered virtuous if they can be elevated to universal rules for all men.

"Do not steal" and "do not murder" are just two specific applications of the categorical imperative. Kantian ethics do not address simply a few situations, but all alternatives of human action. Logical ethical systems do not just provide recommendations for isolated cases, but a complete thinking methodology.

Nonetheless, these morality systems suffer from an inherent weakness. They are superior to partial ethics because they are non-contradictory, but internal consistency does not guarantee usefulness. Kantian morality is an intellectual clockwork foreign to the richness of human experience; it is a cold machinery that functions without feeling, ambition, passion, or hesitation.

Categorical imperatives forbid man to attack his neighbour but they won't tell him what he needs to do to be happy. Logical systems of ethics deal with the psychological aspects of human action only to a minor extent. Kantian morality won't provide you guidelines on how to define personal goals, allocate resources, and deal effectively with adversity.
 

3. Teleological ethics

Teleological systems of ethics are the best that philosophy has produced. On the one hand, they go beyond the isolated commandments of partial morality; on the other hand, they aim at providing a comprehensive and consistent methodology, just like logical ethics. In addition, teleological systems render morality alive by linking it to an overriding goal, namely, happiness.

The word "teleological" comes from the Greek term "telos" which means purpose or goal. Advanced systems of ethics go far beyond "do not steal" and "do not murder." They view the human condition as a complex combination of factors that need to be judged according to general values and prioritized according to individual objectives.

A teleological morality based on reason provides a frame of thought that encompasses all of man's decisions and actions. This system of ethics aims not only at keeping you out of trouble, but also at helping you make the best of your life. The list of teleological virtues includes not only honesty and justice, but also independence, ambition, and persistence.
 

Which one is best?
 

If you want to make optimal choices, you should adopt a teleological system of ethics based on reason. Other approaches to morality are workable in certain conditions, but fail to pass the tests of universality, permanence, consistency, and comprehensiveness.

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 96dpi under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Why entrepreneurship is safer than passivity. More often than not, the safe answer is the wrong one. Understanding the downside of safety


Prosperity and happiness would be easy to achieve if we could make correct decisions all day long. Imagine how efficient we would become if we never succumbed to seductive lies. How far could we go if we never got distracted by irrelevancies? How much would we profit if we never wasted time chasing what cannot be accomplished?

Why entrepreneurship is safer than passivity


An exalted view of permanence and safety can be a constant source of erroneous choices. Human beings seem to suffer from a persistent cognitive distortion that makes them favour all things that are tall, wide, and long. If you think about it, you will find few exceptions to this misconception.

The groundless preference for tall, wide, and long applies equally to space and time. In cities, residents like tall buildings better than small houses. In the countryside, hotels are built next to wide lakes, not little streams. In literature, readers prefer long novels to short stories.

Our belief in permanence and safety is the culmination of our cultural bias towards everything tall, wide, and long. Children stories such as Three Little Pigs teach infants the desirability of solid homes. Career advisers encourage youths to choose well-established professions. Dietitians recommend patients to keep a constant weight.

More often than not, the safe answer is the wrong one


Safety is presented as the perfect answer to all questions. It is the one solution that fits all types, the one preference that always satisfies. Temporary approaches are considered unwise. Anything transient is to be revised; anything incomplete, despised. Long live the mirage of permanence and safety.

How wrong and how historically false. The truth is that human beings have been leading predictable lives for less than 10.000 years. During the ten-times larger period that preceded agriculture, men and women had few routines and were, in certain aspects, much better off.

Prehistoric hunter-gatherers moved around frequently, carrying their household items with them. A varied diet and daily exercise kept them healthy. Tribes rarely stayed long in one place; their changing habitations made them difficult targets for parasites.

In those days, man lived on the alert. The world was unsafe; the environment, disorderly; man's attitude, entrepreneurial. Each season brought him new challenges, each territory fresh scents and herbs. To danger, he reacted with prudence; to opportunities, with self-reliance.

Safety made its entrance in man's life together with agriculture. Land cultivation and animal domestication brought us a steady supply of wheat, rice, corn, and cheese. On the other hand, they also brought us smallpox, influenza, malaria, measles, lice, and vermin.

As soon as human beings built permanent dwellings, rats became their companions. Insects multiplied fed by our blood. Bacteria found a fertile ground to grow; viruses procreated and mutated. Sickness turned to epidemic, illness to pandemic, and disease to morbidity.

Understanding the downside of safety


Safety possesses a downside of which many people become aware only when it's too late. Routine has advantages, but it can blind you to innovation. Predictability has benefits, but it can render you passive. Steadiness has charms that can make you forget to profit from the present day.

Viewing regularity as supreme virtue can lead to the demise of independent thinking. The idea of permanence will keep you down if you let it overrule your perception of reality. If you trust routine too strongly, you will develop tunnel vision. If your entrepreneurial skills wane, change will find you unprepared.


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

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Making sure that good things will happen to you. A proven self-development method that everybody can use. The easy way to build your self-confidence

If you are well prepared, good things will happen to you. Closed doors will open, opportunities will materialize, and jobs will become available. Preparedness brings not only material benefits, but also psychological, such as self-reliance, which is a highly desirable trait in all walks of life.

Making sure that good things will happen to you


Through education, apprehensive kids can become stars. Through training, people who are fearful of every shadow can thrive in new challenges. Through preparation, men who are suspicious of every innovation can turn themselves into self-confident individuals.

We should all welcome any means and ideas that help us face life courageously. Dejection and despair lead people to retreat into disaffected railway tunnels. Self-reliance motivates men to seek out the shortest way to attain their objectives.

A proven self-development method that everybody can use


Training and education, reading and learning, enable man to see farther down the road. Preparedness builds the conviction that achievement is possible and within reach. Looking ahead with confidence raises individuals above the average. Those without goals are so afraid to slip and fall that they tend to keep their eyes focused on the ground. Those with a vision use preparedness to reinforce their self-confidence.

How long does it take for a person to develop the ability to turn defeat into victory? In the eyes of worrisome men, achievement is a receding point in the horizon. In the mind of rational individuals, objectives are to be pursued relentlessly. They know that attaining ambitious goals requires overcoming difficult obstacles.

In our age, if you talk to men in their eighties, you will frequently hear the story of how they returned from the Second World War without savings nor prospects and had to rebuild their lives from scratch. Their trust in the opportunities provided by their environment motivated them to achieve goals, start families, build houses, accumulate wealth, and lead a happy existence.

How to develop an active mind and profit from it


The only way they knew was forward. Every step prepared them for the next. What they learned one day was put in practice on the next. Training was done on the job. Evening education provided, on many occasions, whatever knowledge was missing to move ahead. Self-confidence was the result of their readiness and willingness to absorb information.

Preparedness also allows individuals to overcome shyness. In addition, learning how to perform tasks develops mental resilience. A man who acquires specific abilities is, at the same time, training his mind to deal with any sort of obstacle. Rationality enhances our general capacity to solve problems and face all of life's perils.

Developing an active mind enables man to overcome adversity and avert danger. Self-reliance allows us to identify risks and discard fears that lack basis in reality. Preparedness and education, either formal or self-acquired, reinforce creativity. Imagination and innovation are characteristics of rational men. Those faculties are unknown to those who live in fear.

When things go wrong, unreasonable men blame the world. On the other hand, when trouble blocks achievement, self-confident individuals reassess their options, choose the best alternative, and redouble their efforts. Training and education help us accept mistakes as part of the learning process, while ignorance and lack of preparation see adversity as final, obstacles as insurmountable.

The easy way to build your self-confidence


Trees planted on fertile ground grow to cover hurts from their past. Learning and education in all forms constitute the fruitful land where self-confidence takes roots. The conviction that knowledge can be acquired and mastered motivates man to further achievement.

Self-reliance renders man willing to try new approaches and this capacity for innovation constitutes an essential element of long-term success. By the time a cautious conservative begins to move, a fearless innovator has already gone through the experience of failure and improvement.

In all fields, learning involves errors, usually lots of them, until you acquire the skills and expertise necessary to achieve your objectives. Self-confidence allows individuals not to pay too much attention to initial failures. Resilience precludes doubts from turning into paralysis.

Beginner's mistakes are part of the natural learning curve in any endeavour, private or professional. Detailed, valuable knowledge is acquired by playing on the field. The experience of trial and error builds self-confidence. Start your preparation for life's challenges as soon as you can and the clock will tick in your favour.


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




Tuesday, 20 May 2014

There are many examples of people who become centenarians. We need to change our understanding of what it means to live healthily. Myths and truths about longevity

If human beings were happy all the time, there would be little need for philosophy. If transactions never went wrong, there would be no market for lawyers and arbitration services. If individuals never became sick and died, few persons would choose to become medical doctors. In this light, death is not only the ultimate justification for medicine, but also its most crucial subject of study.

Myths and truths about longevity


Statistics tell us why people die, but we have to realize that there is much more to death than what the eye can perceive. Road accidents, heart failure, stroke, and cancer occupy prominent positions in every country's causes of decease. Contemporary data point out as well the growing death toll taken by age-related sicknesses such as Parkinson and Alzheimer.

Those statistics show the immediate causes of decease, but do not address the fundamental question of why people have to die in the first place. This issue should not to be dismissed as trivial. 


On the contrary, unless we get a clear idea of why we must die, statistical data become irrelevant. After all, one could argue, if we are doomed to pass away at 80, who cares if you die of cancer or diabetes?

All animals expire at a certain point and we take for granted that Nature has foreseen a particular lifespan for each species, but is this really true? Could science extend man's life and push death away, decade after decade, allowing individuals to become a hundred years old before their final demise?

Many people become centenarians


The world shows many examples of men and women who have lived longer than a century. What prevents us from transforming their exceptional longevity into a general rule that would be applicable to all citizens? 

Nowadays, even if we could eliminate accidents as a cause of death, we would still be left with epidemics such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Will they ever be eradicated?

Scientists have put forward many different theories to explain why animals die but, during the last sixty years, most of those hypotheses have been abandoned due to insufficient evidence. The two theories that have remained are considered, in the present stage of knowledge, as work in progress which, so far, seems to be pointing in the right direction.

On the one hand, the waste theory considers death as the final consequence of biochemical decay. From the first moment that an animal begins to breath, its cells act as miniature biological converters that turn oxygen and other substances into chemical products that are consumed to keep the organism alive. 


That conversion process generates a certain amount of biological waste which slowly accumulates in the body. When the amount of chemical waste surpasses the body's ability to deal with it, the animal dies.

On the other hand, the exhaustion hypothesis regards death as the natural depletion of the body's capacity to replace its own cells. While an animal is alive, its cells are continuously dying and being replaced by new cells, which are almost identical to the ones that have died. 


According to this theory, cells can only reproduce themselves a limited number of times without losing important genetic information. This limitation is what determines the maximum lifespan of each species, which in the case of human beings is estimated to be around 120 years.

What death statistics are telling you


When you hear about these two theories, you realize how little sense death statistics make. Indeed, if these hypotheses prove to be true, there might be a common reason for the most widespread causes of death such as cancer, Alzheimer, and cardiovascular disease. 

Would it be possible that those individual sicknesses are nothing but symptoms of a general process of biochemical waste-accumulation and cellular exhaustion? If that is the case, the practical consequences are earth-shattering.

What would you say if you woke up some day and realized that your vision of the world had been, until that moment, completely wrong? 


If the latest scientific theories about death are correct, this means that the mental patterns that most people use to make decisions might be massively unrealistic. The misunderstanding has its roots in our perception of sickness and death as the following sequence of events:
  1. You are born into a certain family and social environment.
  2. You live, eat, and work according to what is generally considered acceptable.
  3. One day, cancer, cardiovascular disease, or other major sickness hits you out of the blue.
  4. You follow a medical treatment in order to combat that particular illness.
  5. Even if the treatment is successful, sooner or later, another disease will come to haunt you.
  6. Finally, when medical treatments fail, you die.

We need to change our understanding of health


If the theories of waste-accumulation and cellular exhaustion are true, we need to revise our mental representation of what it means to live, eat, and work. 

Sickness and death take a different significance when they are seen as part of a natural process which we might be able to influence to a larger extent than it is currently assumed. The new paradigm would reshape our vision of life into a sequence of events in which we play a much more significant role:
  1. You are born into a certain family and social environment, which do not always know what is really good for you.
  2. You will be much better off if you live, eat, and work using reason as a standard, irrespective of what other people think of you.
  3. You should learn how to live in a way that slows down the accumulation of biochemical waste in your organism, since your own behaviour is the number-one factor that contributes to keeping you healthy.
  4. When it comes to health matters, prevention should be your main concern. If we trust the waste-accumulation theory, the right behaviour should be able to keep away fatal illness until a later stage in life, allowing us to live longer and healthier.
  5. You should learn to conduct your life in a way that minimizes cell exhaustion, aiming at extending your lifespan towards the ideal 120 years, which seems to be the limit for the human species.
  6. What kills most people is a direct consequence of their wrong way of living. By correcting your mental patterns and daily actions, you can lead a much healthier existence and extend your lifespan.

Imagine the advantages if you could enjoy this world five years longer without being afflicted by debilitating illness. The inspiring aspect of the latest hypotheses about sickness and death is that they reinforce the idea that you, as a rational individual, are in control of your future. 


We are still far away from understanding all the implications of the new paradigm, but it is clear that the latest scientific theories strongly favour the fundamental tenets of living thoughtfully and independently.

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

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Principles condense lessons from the past so that we can apply them in the present. The law of cause and effect governs the universe. Keep your long-term goals in mind when making short-term decisions


Wouldn't life be wonderful if we never made mistakes? Imagine how much money you could save through the years if you never purchased any of those products that look so good before you take them home and later turn out to be useless. How much effort would you spare if you could perform any undertaking without mistakes?

What is the point of having principles?

 The function of principles is to condense lessons from the past that we can apply to our present. Rational guidelines cannot guarantee success in your endeavours, but will reduce the risk of failure and minimize any ensuing damages.

What are the principles of rational living and how can we use them in our daily life? From the work of Aristotle, Epictetus, and Spinoza, I have extracted the following three guidelines, which I consider the backbone of a rational life:

The law of cause and effect


Understanding that reality works according to cause-and-effect constitutes the difference between civilized men and savages. Despite influence of family and society, each individual is the principal agent of his own fate. Accepting responsibility for your actions means taking charge of all aspects of your life that are under your control.

Identify your lifetime goals


Barring major accidents, humans can expect to become at least 70 years old in many areas of the world. Research has repeatedly proven that setting long-term goals plays a decisive role when it comes to achievement.

Drifting from day to day, from one occupation to another, does not require clear objectives and avoids the friction generated by those who pursue ambitious goals. On the other hand, drifting is often associated with anxiety and psychological insecurity, since it fails to provide long-term perspective. Only well-defined goals allow man to concentrate his resources wisely and make the best of his life.


Take good care of your health

Each individual has control of the food he consumes and determines how much he exercises. Few ignore the crucial role that nutrition and physical fitness play in maintaining good health, but how many men and women actually take action on the basis of such knowledge?

Rationality demands us to strike an adequate balance between our habits of the present and our expectations of the future. If you care little about being healthy and are willing to spend your life's savings on hospital fees, there is no reason why you should adopt healthy habits in your daily living. If that is not the case, then you know what to do.

The three principles above can be complemented with other recommendations, such as:

  • Accepting catastrophes philosophically and taking swift action towards recovery
  • Learning from mistakes in order to improve your effectiveness
  • Befriend honest people and ditch the rest or, at least, minimize your contacts with aggressive or nasty individuals
  • Actively protect your privacy and possessions
  • Stand up for your rights and do not give up too easily when you meet opposition
Accepting cause-and-effect as the overriding philosophical truth will turn you into a much more effective and happier human being. Applying rational principles to your life will bring you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your thoughts and actions are aligned with the essence of 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 Corey Leopold under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Three small reasons to embrace falsehood, plus a big one to embrace truth. Why manipulation and deception are so ingrained. Independent thinking is difficult in the face of opposition, so what?


Contrary to what is commonly believed, individuals extract massive advantages from telling lies and pretending to be convinced by them. A large number of people are perfectly conscious of the falsehood of many social conventions, but still, those practices are maintained, endorsed, and enforced.

Three small reasons to embrace falsehood, plus a big one to embrace truth

It is a fact that millions of men and women comply daily with silly rules that they could avoid if they wished. When a corporation allows lies to shape its culture, History shows that most employees will shrug their shoulders and pretend to see what does not exist.

Would you call someone irrational if he chooses to behave in a manner that allows him to keep his job, at least for a while? In those situations, revenue projections of companies become unrealistic, profits are faked, and bookkeeping loses touch with reality. A few months later, the business collapses.


Such stories appear so frequently in newspapers that we almost take for granted that people will learn from example. Next time, we tell ourselves, things will be better. After every scandal, we love to believe that manipulation and corruption will not happen again. Unfortunately, this hope never comes true and it doesn't take long before the next scandal comes to light.

Why manipulation and deception are so ingrained


What makes human beings support fantasies in word and deed? How is it possible that we devote so much effort to lying to ourselves? The correct answer is not that people are sick and evil. No, the truth is more complex than that.

There are three reasons that explain why many men and women are deeply invested in falsehood. Social convenience is the first, since it feels good to belong to the overwhelming majority. Financial benefit is the second, since certain doors are closed to those who ask uncomfortable questions. The third motive, fear of rejection, is perhaps the strongest.

No wonder that, in History, philosophical and social progress are achieved only little by little, by taking infinitesimal steps. Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, experience proves that, in the long run, pretence and manipulation inevitably destroy a man's life.

  1. Social convenience leads people to repress their best ideas. The habit of seeking conformity at all times deprives men of the force to speak out their dreams and stake their claims.
  2. The financial benefits of lying, although sweet, tend to be short-lived. Schemes that look too profitable to be true lead those who engage in them, more often than not, to heavy monetary losses.
  3. In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection are wildly exaggerated. Nowadays, global markets allow innovators to find their public anywhere in the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by their neighbours.

Independent thinking is difficult in the face of opposition, so what?


Trusting the golden promises of social convenience always seems, at first sight, the obvious choice, but blind conformity to the world's fantasies destroys man's life. Becoming aware of long-term consequences and acting rationally are hard at times, but they mark the path to real success and happiness.


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

Friday, 16 May 2014

The crucial element in successful dating. One can only wonder why resilience is not taught at school. Every elephant knows the importance of growing a thick skin for protection against weather inclemencies


When you are out there looking for the right person to share your life with, you should remind yourself that maintaining your balance and self-esteem is going to put you way ahead of the game.
"A wise man should not fear losing anything in life as long as he is able to preserve his peace of mind," taught the Roman philosopher Epictetus. 

When it comes to dating, each of us can easily make a list of unpleasant situations that we would rather avoid in order to keep our tranquillity. For instance, most men and women would consider themselves happier if they could avoid dealing with nasty people altogether. The same preference applies to averting unwanted criticism. Last but not least, wouldn't our days be easier if we never had to comply with silly rules?

The crucial element in successful dating


The crucial element in successful dating is rational persistence. The question is how we can sustain our motivation long enough to achieve our romantic goals. Indeed, looking for a soul mate would be less complicated if we could keep away all those inconveniences, but let's face the truth, the world is not going to turn into paradise tomorrow morning. 

Negative personal interactions are particularly aggravating during dating, since love seekers who invest themselves heavily in their search often place their egos in the line of fire.

The good news is that you can minimize your dating annoyances if you grow a thick skin, that is, if you become more philosophical about life. Learn to enhance your psychological resilience and this knowledge will serve you well for the rest of your life. The techniques are not difficult and you can practice them on your own. During your dating adventures, you will have ample opportunity to test the validity of these theories.


How to develop a sound psychological armour

One can only wonder why mental resilience is rarely taught at school. Every elephant in the savannah knows the importance of growing a thick skin for protection against weather inclemencies, viruses, and infections. In the same way, human beings need to develop a sound psychological armour against the inevitable frictions of social life.

As Epictetus observed, "some men find joy in fishing and others in hunting, but there is no greater pleasure than living your days with serenity." 

Which techniques can you use to build up a psychological protection layer as thick as the rugged skin of an elephant? In the case of dating, my choice of methods would go towards cultivating deliberate slowness and purposeful indifference. Let us see how these two techniques work in practice.

When you meet new people with romantic purposes in mind, some of your new acquaintances will be great, others will leave you cold, and a few will personify everything that you can possibly dislike in a human being. If you are attending a social event or have been invited for dinner by friends, you might not wish to leave right way, but on the other side, you really don't want to drag along all evening in conversation with obnoxious strangers.

In those cases, adopting a strategy of deliberate slowness can work wonders. By the way, this is an approach that you can take to defuse many exacerbating social situations. Deliberate slowness is the ideal defence mechanism on those occasions when someone is verbally distressing you or bothering you at a party.


The perfect way to play the game

Should you find yourself in that situation, the perfect way to play is not to get angry. Instead of arguing and reacting with indignation, you can pretend that your brain needs hours to absorb the simplest information and stall. Very often, people will succumb to their own impatience, rate you as a hopeless bore, and leave you in peace.

The second technique, purposeful indifference, requires longer training, but its field of application is much wider. Occasionally, during the dating process, you won't be able to escape nasty, unfair criticism, threats, or warnings, either from friends, family, or strangers. Don't let them ruin your day. Remember that it is great that people are free to express their opinions even if they don't know what they are talking about.


Make yourself an invaluable present

Put on your best poker face, say that you take note of their comments, and walk on. As soon as you are away from the scene, shrug your shoulders and don't let anxiety take control of your mind. Reserve your energies for the next date, where you might meet just the right person for you.

Looking for a soul mate is difficult enough. Let us not allow ourselves to be affected by nonsensical remarks from other people. Take advantage of your dating experiences to develop a thick skin. In addition to facilitating your search for love, you will be making yourself an invaluable present.

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

Thursday, 15 May 2014

When to be frugal, when to pay full price. Six situations where you should be willing to overpay. A time might come when you will commit an important error. Critical problems, swift reactions


Frugality enables a better life by allowing you to choose. Instead of spending your resources on everyday consumption, you can decide when it is opportune to make extra expenditures. Normality seldom justifies extra expense, but sooner or later, everybody faces a difficult period that demands extraordinary exertions.

When to be frugal, when to pay full price



If you acquire sensible financial habits, you will be able to accumulate savings to cushion adversity and misfortune. However, a judicious management of your resources should not entail counter-productive economies. What you want is to apply your financial reserves to those areas where they are most needed.

In general terms, there are six situations where you should gladly overpay, namely, to acquire long-term assets that generate revenue, to solve serious health problems, to correct critical mistakes, to protect yourself and your possessions, to learn new skills at great speed, and to obtain performance guarantees. Let us review these points one by one. 


Six situations where you should be willing to overpay

 First, acquiring long-term assets that generate revenue. The principle applies equally to real estate, company shares, or annuities. Choose high quality even if you have to pay more. In the long-term, prime properties will earn you more money and spare you preoccupations.

When buying a house, be willing to increase your budget in exchange for a better location. When investing in the stock market, select shares of well-managed companies with a long history of profitable operations. In those cases, you will eventually be glad that you agreed to pay more initially.

Second, solving serious health problems. Any doctor can help you cure a common cold. You do not need to pay extra money to address a minor sickness whose treatment offers little difficulty. On the other hand, if you are severely ill, you should be willing to spend as much as necessary to recover your health.

If your insurance does not cover a vital treatment, figure out how you can pay for it yourself. If necessary, liquidate your investments and sell your house. Even if you have to cross the ocean, you should go to see the best doctors. The purpose of frugality in trivial purchases is to allow you to overspend when the need arises. 


A time might come when you will commit an important error


Third, correcting critical mistakes. If you are in business or professional practice, a time might come when you will commit an important error. Those who take initiative inevitably make mistakes, since those constitute an essential ingredient of success.

Having committed a serious error represents the type of situation for which you want to keep sufficient financial reserves. Acknowledge the problem and find out how you can fix it. Be willing to overpay for a quick solution that puts an end to the story. That will be money well spent. Learn your lesson and move on to the next project.

Fourth, protecting yourself and your possessions. The principle applies to physical and digital protection. For instance, if your house is located in an isolated area, you should invest in a state-of-the-art security system. If you are going to place your savings on a bank account, you should select a financial institution that offers a high level of internet security.

Do not assume that someone else has your protection as first priority. If you can benefit from security provided by third parties, be thankful for it, but stay alert nonetheless. Saving money in the field of personal protection can be counter-productive. If necessary, be ready to overpay in this area. 


Chances come and go, often requiring immediate action


Fifth, accelerated learning of new skills. Specialized expertise is expensive, in particular if you need to acquire it quickly. However, if you have the possibility to get your dream job on the condition that you learn a new language, you should be willing to invest a good part of your savings in accelerated learning.

Ideally, you should try to take your time for difficult learning projects, so that you can figure out an inexpensive way to carry them out. Nevertheless, sometimes you'll have no choice. Chances come and go, often requiring immediate action. If the opportunity is worth it, you should view your learning cost as an investment.

Sixth, obtaining performance guarantees. If you have never experienced the inconvenience of repairs on a big-ticket item like a car or a refrigerator, your might not be aware of the immense value of warranties and performance guarantees. The cost of spare parts and manpower to fix a problem can be staggering.

Quality manufacturers tend to offer longer warranties for their products. Do not hesitate to pay more if you can benefit of extended coverage for your new vehicle or washing machine. In the long term, those warranties may save you substantial sums, let alone headaches. 


Critical problems demand swift reactions


Remain unwavering in your commitment to save money on unimportant purchases. Overpaying for everyday merchandise is unnecessary and wasteful. Instead, devote your savings to investing in your future and attaining peace of mind.

Critical problems demand swift reactions. Those are the kind of situations that justify paying more in exchange of quick service or extraordinary expertise. A discerning man knows how to separate normal purchases from pressing needs. Reduce your expenses on the former and build your financial strength to deal successfully with the latter.


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