Sunday, 29 June 2014

We no longer live in Ancient Egypt, although many ancient prejudices are still around. Civilized society is based on contractual agreements. Adopting a rational view of the world

Three thousand years ago, life in Ancient Egypt was strictly hierarchical. Each person's origin determined which trade or profession he was to take up, his choice of spouse, food, and ideas. No dissidence was possible. There was no opposition and no escape. Progress and innovation were forbidden. Society was closed and, for hundreds of years, it remained immobile.

We no longer live in Ancient Egypt


When Alexander the Great arrived in Egypt in the year 332 B.C., it didn't take him long to crush the Egyptian army. The fast, entrepreneurial Greeks destroyed the bureaucratic Egyptian forces in less than two weeks. The Pharaoh was deposed and Ptolemy undertook to transform Egypt into a trading emporium and a marketplace for new ideas.

Only five generations later, the world had changed beyond recognition. During the years of the Roman Republic, the idea of hierarchy disappeared from the mind of free individuals. Despite major differences in wealth and ability, Roman citizens did not feel inferior to anyone when it came to purchase one another's products or services.

Under Roman law, if merchant Croesus hired architect Vitruvius to build him a house, both men were free to agree the price, terms, and conditions of their contract. Although Vitruvius worked for Croesus, he did not consider the merchant to be "his superior." A Roman citizen would have found hierarchy a laughable idea in the context of a commercial relation.


Many ancient prejudices are still around

Regrettably, the modern digital capacity to draw organizational charts at great speed, is bringing our mentality back to Egyptian times. How often do we hear about people who are seriously depressed because their name has been displaced, in an organizational chart, from one box to another placed a centimetre below?

While it is indisputable that commercial organizations need a structure to be able to function effectively, one should never forget that what keeps individuals working together is voluntary cooperation in the form of contracts. Commercial hierarchies as such do not exist in reality, although modern corporate doctrines go a long way towards obscuring this fact.

If you hire someone to clean your apartment, you are exchanging your cash for a service. If you look at yourself in the mirror and feel "superior" to the person who is cleaning your living-room, you are at odds with reality. If you work as an employee in a company, you are in no way "inferior" to whoever is paying you money in exchange for your professional services.


Civilized society is based on contractual agreements

Civilized society is composed of a myriad of formal and informal contracts between citizens. It is unfortunate that, in the business world, mythical theories about "leadership" and "stewardship" are doing much harm by creating the illusion that human hierarchies exist in the marketplace. Such false theories bring only anxiety, fear, and envy to those unlucky enough to believe them.

Work and happiness are individual endeavours. Which profession you practice, which employment you take, what tasks you perform, and how much money you make, are the result of contracts that you have entered into some time ago and in which you have decided to stay, for the time being.


Adopting a rational view of the world 

If you ever catch yourself thinking in terms of corporate hierarchies, stop whatever you are doing and take a minute to sharpen your vision. 

Forget about "superior" and "inferior" positions and learn to view human beings simply as buyers and sellers in the marketplace. Adopting a rational perspective of the world will bring you the peace of mind of the philosopher and the determination of the entrepreneur whose freedom to trade has just been rekindled.

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

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Check the facts before making decisions. Prejudice and fear are counter-productive. Social pressure to do the wrong thing is difficult to resist. Train yourself to make better decisions

Packaged foods are conditioned to suit the taste of the consumer, which varies from country to country. Bread is baked differently in cities that are just a hundred kilometres away. Our culture feeds on sugar contained in cakes, cookies, ice cream, and alcoholic drinks.

Opponents of the Western diet will warn you that sugar is going to kill you. Actually, not only sugar, but also alcohol, red meat, white flour, and other elements of the modern fare. Contemporary medical studies have proven those admonishments true to a good extent, but they also acknowledge that death will very rarely be the penalty for eating a beef hamburger.


Check the facts before making decisions


The reasonable conclusion is that some foods create certain health risks; you should be aware of them and select your meals accordingly. Nowadays, few people contend the principle that bad food is detrimental to your vitality.

If you don't make a minimum effort to gather correct dietary information, you will make random choices. If you eat appallingly, you will suffer the consequences. In terms of food, science has established that sweetness is not always conductive to wellness.


Prejudice and fear are counter-productive

Can we remove counter-productive actions also from other areas of our life? How much of what we believe about the world holds true upon detailed examination? Are our convictions solidly based on facts? What about our ethical values and fundamental goals? Do we resort to prejudice in order to hide irrational fears? Do we appeal to tradition in order to safeguard inefficiency?

It takes a strong will and massive efforts to modify the way we eat. On many occasions, men and women undertake such changes only as a last resort, for instance, after having suffered a heart attack or being diagnosed with cancer.

Social pressure to do the wrong thing is difficult to resist


Embracing a better diet becomes a major challenge when individuals endure constant social pressure to behave irresponsibly. Business meetings in Russia are still being closed with rounds of vodka. When colleagues and customers push you to drink, it is very difficult to resist, even if you are conscious of the negative consequences of your actions.

Inferior food and excessive alcohol undermine our health. Falsehoods sabotage our interests and place heavy burdens on our shoulders. Misrepresentations can be pleasant and enticing despite their lethal consequences.

Train yourself to make better decisions


The bigger the falsehood, the less that will remain of your independence. If you subscribe to misrepresentations, they will erode your entrepreneurial abilities. You will forsake your initiative and become psychologically dependent. How can you replace common myths by effective truths?

1. Trust you initiative more than empty hopes


Misplaced hope should make way for initiative. Do you ever tell yourself that someone, somewhere is going to recognize your talent? Good things do not necessarily happen to those who wait long enough. The effective truth is that, if your talents are underutilized, you'd better take action to promote them. It is up to you to improve your situation.

2. Concentrate on rational goals


Irritation should make way for constructive action. Imagine that, after suffering some minor abuse or discrimination, you become enraged, lusting for revenge. Is someone going to come to fix the world and put an end to unfairness?

The truth is that everybody makes mistakes. It is seldom worth it to devote your time to correcting other people's minor faults. Put the unpleasant story out of your mind and move on. Apply your efforts to pursuing your goals, not to telling people off.

3. Make workable plans, discard the rest


Passive acceptance should be replaced by workable plans. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who gets divorced in his mid-forties. For this man, it feels good to hang around his old friends and be comforted for the difficulties that he is encountering, but is this an effective behaviour?

Maybe they will introduce him to someone nice who will put his life back on track. Otherwise, he will just have to get used to loneliness, won't he? The truth is that he needs to make a workable plan to rebuild his life. Should he join a health club? Should he use on-line dating to meet a new romantic partner?

4. Figure out how to start right now


Postponement should make way for entrepreneurship. Imagine that you practise a beloved hobby that you would like to turn into a source of income. Unfortunately, everybody is telling you that you should not take risks at your age. You hear that your best chance of success is to stay put in your job until retirement age.

The effective truth is that it takes a long time to establish any sort of business. The sooner you start your entrepreneurial career, the better off you will be in the long term. Postponement does not reduce risk. A sensible approach would be to start up your business on the side, devoting your evenings and weekends to it.

Entrepreneurship is the key to personal growth


In every single case, hesitation delays progress. Do not allow wrong ideas to park your projects for years. Do not be contented with bromides that waste your life. Throw away misrepresentations and adopt an entrepreneurial attitude based on facts. Waiting only keeps you down. Action solves problems.

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



Friday, 27 June 2014

How to be fearless amidst constant threats. The logical approach to personal development. Stay away from the folklore of irrationality. How to be rational and maintain your serenity

Imagine for a moment that you would able to go after your goals without having to fear criticism from friends and family. Would you devote more efforts to pursuing your ambitions if you did not have to worry about ridicule in case of failure? How far would you invest yourself if you never had to deal with discouragement and doubts? 

We fear failure more than we crave success

 There are good reasons why we fear failure more than we crave success. If we formulate the proposition in purely material terms, the discomfort suffered from not having any car is far superior than the advantages derived from having two cars; similarly, the terror of losing all our savings in a stock market crash is stronger than the perspective of doubling our assets if stock prices rise.

Worry and anxiety are powerful inhibitors of achievement. Fear can make us discard viable initiatives; apprehension may consume our energies and prevent us from moving forward; concern can block reasonable attempts to improve our situation.


Our minds tend to blow risks out of proportion

We stay behind because our minds blow risks out of proportion; we give up too soon because we underestimate our capacity to adopt preventive measures; we walk downtrodden paths for fear of lions that we have never seen; we stick to unproductive routines to avoid the discomfort associated with change.

Books and lectures that recommend to take risks remain unconvincing to most people. Common sense weighs heavier than motivational speeches. Change is disruptive; we crave what we can gain less than we dread what we can lose. Cheerful words and doubtful promises are not sufficient to assuage our concerns. Only realism can prompt us to overcome fear; only rationality can lead us to take entrepreneurial risks.


Self-confidence needs to be built 

Thinking must take place before action if such action is to be productive; planning must take place before implementation if success is to be attained. Self-confidence needs to be built before it can be applied; skills must be acquired before they can be employed. How can we overcome exaggerated fears and take well-calculated steps? In which way can we increase our chances of success?

How to dismantle doubts and inhibitions

Reason is the most powerful tool for dismantling falsehoods. If we grow convinced that we stand a good chance of accomplishing our goals, we will become less worried and more adventurous. Logic is our cardinal ally for contesting overblown concerns. The best way to face fear is to demonstrate its irrationality, namely:

1. Compare the risks with their actual likelihood


The intensity of a potential catastrophe is independent of the likelihood of its occurrence. Salesmen promote insurance policies by painting vivid pictures of misfortune, but their sales presentations seldom mention the actual statistical probability of such misfortune taking place.

2. Assess threats objectively, not emotionally


The perception of risk is heavily influenced by cultural stereotypes. Saving rates differ from country to country according to how citizens see their future; the willingness to change jobs and move to a distant city is higher in the US than in Europe; the proportion of the population that invests in the stock market also varies from country to country.

3. Quantify the potential damage 


Potential dangers need to be quantified in order to be properly assessed. If emotions take control, they will exaggerate the negative consequences of risk. On many occasions, the material damages that people actually suffer are minor compared to the accompanying psychological discomfort.

4. Eliminate distortions from your perceptions



Many things we fear arise from stories written by marketeers. Why do California residents protect themselves more often against earthquakes than against divorce? Because salesmen market earthquake insurance very effectively, while at the same time, few couples are aware that a pre-nuptial agreement can protect them against a devastating divorce.

Taking the time to assess risks objectively is essential for making good decisions. If you are considering a challenging professional move, forget about irrational fears and ask yourself the right questions: if your new job proves to be a disappointment, what is the actual likelihood of your becoming unemployed? Even if you lost your new position, how long would it reasonably take you to regain employment?

We worry about risks that have been exaggerated by marketeers trying to promote their products or services. Those who sell pension plans frequently paint grim pictures of retired people living in poverty and rightly so. There is no reason why salesmen should refrain from offering their insurance policies, but it is up to us to appraise risks according to their true gravity.


The path to an unbreakable self-confidence

The next time that you hesitate between taking action or staying put, do not make a decision until you have assessed all facts. Make an effort to discard emotions that might be polluting your perception. Quantify the positive and negative aspects; weigh off the severity of risks with the likelihood of their occurrence.

Logical analysis reshapes risks and unveils opportunities. Thoughtfulness replaces concern with prudence and worry with caution. On most occasions, a rational assessment of advantages and disadvantages will prompt individuals to take initiative. Becoming an entrepreneur in your everyday life begins with understanding risks and our ability to deal with them effectively.


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 jimbowen0306 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Thursday, 26 June 2014

How to find peace of mind. Why emotional stability is so difficult. Rationality is the key to stress relief.

In traditional education, lying is universally abhorred. Children are taught that one should tell the truth under any circumstances. Such paradigm is usually reinforced with morality tales of liars who suffer terrible punishments. However, when children grow up and become adolescents, they realize that some details do not match in the story they've been told.
 

Why emotional stability is so difficult

The extreme emotionality of teenagers is linked to their moral awakening. At thirteen, they complain that people don't follow the principles they preach. At fourteen, they point out inconsistencies between ideals and facts. At fifteen, they long to see alignment between purpose and means, but where should they find it?

In this context of straight virtues and twisted reality, becoming an adult frequently leads to disillusionment, cynicism, or sectarian self-delusion. As a result, truth is reduced to the realm of talk, actions become unpredictable, and promises unreliable. What an ethical mess, what an intellectual nightmare.

The solution to the problem


The moral confusion of our age is the natural consequence of contradictory premises in our thinking. You cannot expect people to tell the truth while you overwhelm them with equivocations and misrepresentations. There is no excuse for eluding the issue. There is no answer to this dilemma except for that provided by logic and evidence:

1. The ethical requirement to tell the truth under any circumstances does not hold water and there is no evidence that it has ever worked. Such requirement lacks solid grounds, since it fails to acknowledge the difference between good and evil.

2. When dealing directly with nature, it is in our own interest to remain faithful to acquired data and confirmed observations. Machines and chemical processes operate according to the laws of identity and causality. In those cases, if you lie, you will simply get different results or none at all.

3. When dealing with other men, truth is morally due to those who are themselves authentic and reliable. The proportion of genuine and benevolent individuals in your life might include, depending on the context, a few or most people. Indisputably, you should be loyal and faithful to those who are honest.

What about the rest of your social contacts? How should one face individuals who are evil or misinformed, in numbers large or small? For those cases, we need to define clear guidelines for ourselves and our children. For instance, when we have a duty to provide accurate information, what we should do in case of doubt, and so on.

How to achieve emotional stability


No morality should demand individuals to tell the truth to those who are trying to do them harm. Equally, no ethical system should require people to disclose private details to random strangers. Contradictory ideals lead to random reactions. The key to emotional stability is ethical consistency.

We have seen too often what prejudice has to offer. We have experienced too frequently how chaos arises from contradictions and waste from inconsistencies. Let us place our principles under reason and our actions under logic, for no other approach can ever meet the demands 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 Chi King under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Are you doing too much of the wrong thing? Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem. Wrong habits are the plague of our culture


A new fashion is sweeping the world. It is reshaping the work of generations and throwing a new light on old certainties. If it gets you, it won't let you go unchanged. Even if it doesn't, your environment won't remain the same. This agent of transformation is the idea that you can achieve more with less effort and resources.
"Men can perish out of excessive endeavours to preserve what has little value," wrote the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu in the year 520 B.C. 

Are you doing too much of the wrong thing?

In our days, it seems that many are indeed willing to waste their lives by devoting endless efforts to helping people who refuse to be helped. Have you ever wondered why human beings spend time on activities that have zero chance of leading to positive results? 

Here are some examples of hopeless situations: Correcting the same mistake repeatedly instead of eliminating its cause once and for all; Cleaning up the mess that other people have created and that they could have easily prevented if they had listened to your advice; Making countless attempts using the same ineffectual method and feeling depressed about the negative results.
"In life, difficult problems result from complicating simple problems," observed Lao-Tzu. "The wise man prefers to solve problems when they are small, so that they never have a chance to grow." 

In this light, let us take a critical look at situations that demand our urgent attention. How many of those develop out of our failure to disengage at a time when less tension was involved?

Minimalism and disengagement are rational responses to excessive demands on our time, energy, or resources. No matter how you look at it, welcoming more trouble than you can handle is not a policy conductive to happiness. 


Sometimes the solution is worse than the problem

Helping others is fine but you should try to do it without jeopardizing the basis of your existence. Otherwise, the solution might be worse than the problem. 

When a borrowed weight becomes too heavy to carry, consider returning it to its legitimate owner. Disengage and do less. When you are working without measure on matters that consume every hour of your leisure, reassess their importance and reduce them to proper size. Restrain and minimize.
"Wisdom is not about curing disease, but about preventing it," reflected Lao-Tzu. "From experiencing the pain that goes along with sickness, we learn to prevent sickness in the future." 

Wrong psychological habits are the plague of our culture

Overcommitment, worry, and anxiety are the plague of our culture. Stay out of their way by refusing to play any game likely to extinguish your flame. 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 Gidzy under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ten massive benefits of rational living. Personal development requires a rational philosophy. Inconsistency creates stress. No feasibility without compatibility

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

No feasibility without compatibility


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

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


An integrated philosophy will take you far

Integrated goals will take you places, but inconsistent ambitions will wear you down. Pursuing compatible goals increases personal effectiveness and enhances creativity. Consistent ideals also improve man's reasoning capacity. Modern life requires instantaneous choices. Individuals who possess well-integrated goals can deal with complexity in the most effective manner.

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

People who lack consistent goals often sabotage their own efforts. Pursuing integrated objectives requires sustained focus and can bring spectacularly positive results.


Ten massive advantages of rational living


Few persons establish a definite direction for their life, but those who do, can reap enormous benefits. Motivational consistency brings, amongst others, the following advantages:
  1. Financial resources can be used with a minimum of waste by avoiding random decisions and useless purchases
  2. A clear vision of the future feeds the motivation to develop specialized skills and accumulate intellectual capital.
  3. Consistent objectives build perseverance and credibility. On the other hand, random behaviour tends to damage a man's reputation and destroy his assets.
  4. Rational goals lead men to entertainment that reinforces values and involves aspects of learning.
  5. Compatible, long-term objectives provide the energy needed to undertake ambitious projects that make a difference in one's living conditions.
  6. Logic and ambition supply the resilience needed to undertake boring maintenance tasks that bring substantial long-term benefits.
  7. A stable vision and a lifetime perspective lead man to avert excessive risks, lotteries and other forms of gambling.
  8. Consistent objectives render man's mind active and willing to explore innovative options. In contrast, contradictory goals lead to mistakes, waste, and paralysis.
  9. Long-term ambitions enable man to accept mistakes as part of a learning process. The opposite phenomenon, intolerance, frequently arises out of pursuing contradictory targets. Individuals torn apart by diverging goals find difficult to explain their own actions.
  10. Convictions in line with reality allow man to connect deeply with other human beings. Irrational objectives prevent individuals from communicating clearly, leading to irritation, confusion, misunderstandings, and errors.
Human beings can guide their lives properly only by reason. Dogs and cats perceive a narrow part of reality, but man is aware of hundreds of interconnected details, past and present, that are relevant in each situation. Our mind calls for logic and consistency. Happiness becomes impossible if we ignore our rational nature.

Rationality leads to increased effectiveness

Workable, compatible, long-term goals render man truly human. Leading an effective life requires individuals to select rational objectives that comprise their whole lifetime. A consistent vision that reaches into the next decades is the most reliable tool for making optimal choices in the present.

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

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Learning from people who never feel discouraged. The proven strategy against career stagnation. The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day. Never grant problems more weight than they deserve


The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

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

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

Five proven methods to increase your self-confidence. Desensitization to danger. Risk reduction. Creative persistence. Building on existing strengths. Working by numbers

Prosperity and happiness seem to be directly proportional to self-confidence. Individuals with initiative and persistence tend to achieve more than others who, despite possessing larger resources, behave timidly and confusedly.

Methods that encourage your creativity

Childhood experience plays an important role in building a strong personality, but nobody can do anything to change the past. If you wish to increase your level of self-reliance, you are going to have to use your creativity and take action in the present.

Methods that recommend repeating encouraging phrases to yourself seldom produce lasting effects. Monotonous messages, whether positive or negative, dull the mind. Such practices result in boredom, not in a dynamic personality. The systems that work are those that involve our mind and emotions at the same time.


Start by consolidating past gains

 The goal of increased self-assurance should not be pursued for the needs of the moment, but for permanent improvements in our lives. Changes in our fundamental psychological patterns have little worth if they cannot be stabilized and maintained.

A better future must entail a consolidation of any gains in self-reliance that we may be able to attain. A man cannot become self-confident just for a single day. An isolated incident that provokes major psychological changes contradicts human nature, although it may provide an interesting story for a film.

The main drivers of our personality are incredibly stable. Even minor changes require tremendous effort or sustained external pressure. The only methods that can effectively increase our self-confidence are those that, little by little, realign our thinking patterns according to consistent principles.


Five methods proven by experience


The five practices that, in my own experience, have proven to work well are the following: desensitization to danger, risk reduction, creative persistence, building on existing strengths, and working by numbers. Many people instinctively use some of these methods at one time or other. Results can be greatly enhanced by applying them in a conscious and regular manner.

1. Desensitization to danger


Once you acknowledge that you live in fear of a specific threat, you must decide if you want to invest time to overcome paralysis and anxiety. The answer to this question is far from self-evident, since thousands of individuals accept timidity as a way of life. Becoming more assertive and adventurous is best achieved by taking small steps. Worry is vanquished by means realism, not by self-delusion.

A progressive loss of sensitivity to danger is the basis of learning to ride a bicycle. At the beginning, you move slowly and hesitatingly. With practice, your body begins to take control by realizing that the situation is much less dangerous than it feels. Desensitization through successive steps is the ideal method to increase self-confidence in situations that allow progressive exposure.

2. Risk reduction


Although History shows the many advantages of stock market investments, millions of people are terrorized of the idea of placing their savings at risk. Purchasing shares of a corporation is viewed as a disproportionate exposure to chance.

Acquiring knowledge about economics can help you assess the benefits of investing in the stock market. However, it will seldom push to you take the decisive step to overcome your fears. In cases where the problem is to cross the line for the first time, risk reduction proves a more powerful tactic than accumulating theoretical knowledge.

The first-time investor should simply ignore his fears, open a brokerage account, and make a small purchase of some conservative securities. During the following weeks, he might tend to check the price of his stock ten times a day, but as time goes by, the neophyte investor will get comfortable with the level of risk and be willing to purchase shares of other corporations.

3. Creative persistence


Our self-reliance increases when our accomplishments place us on a higher plateau of performance and satisfaction. Creative persistence demands constant exertion of effort and economy of energy. Our purpose is not to repeat unsuccessful attempts, but to assess failure, introduce variations in our approach, and progressively improve the outcome and reward.

Intelligent perseverance allows us to maintain our overall goal but modify our strategy as needed. A wise man asks himself incessantly how he can do things faster, better, and less expensively. Keep your long-term objectives, but show flexibility in your means and time schedule. Your self-confidence will increase at the same speed as your attempts generate better results.

4. Building on existing strengths


High achievers seldom possess a well-rounded personality. A person who is able to perform equally well on all areas is a rarity. An even character that is perfectly balanced in all facets should not be elevated to a psychological ideal.

Due to varying background and talents, individuals tend to excel on a few aspects, perform acceptably on many others, and prove deficient in some. If you wish to become more self-reliant, you should concentrate on developing your strengths instead of worrying about your weaknesses.

5. Working by numbers


People who have low regard for themselves often expect too much. A man who demands to succeed in every endeavour should be viewed, with good reason, as wildly unrealistic. Such hard-headed attitudes produce high performance anxiety.

Facts and numbers provide us with the necessary perspective to deal with failure. A candidate who is rejected at a job interview might become needlessly enraged or depressed if he contemplates the event as a major injustice that has the potential to damage his career permanently.

In contrast, individuals searching for employment who are aware of the statistical odds against them tend to be more relaxed and resilient. If you acquire a realistic view of the amount of effort that you have to exert in order to find a good job, your temporary lack of success will not diminish your self-reliance.

During an economic downturn, there can be easily two dozen applicants for each worthy vacant position. Working by numbers means realizing that you might need two dozen interviews in order to get a desirable job. Internalizing that knowledge is bound to increase your serenity and render you more effective.


Choose a method and enjoy the benefits 

Attaining stability on a higher level of personal effectiveness is the common purpose of the above systems to increase self-reliance. Take some time to decide which method you are going to use, make a decision, and carry out your plan. After you have followed the selected strategy for a few weeks, you will acquire better patterns of thought and become more self-reliant.

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


Passive acceptance is not the way to go. Increase your resilience against adversity. The solution to stress: simplification. Most barriers are psychological

The Philosophy of Builders
by John Vespasian 

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

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

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



The Philosophy of Builders
by John Vespasian

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Unrealistic scenarios hinder personal development. Take your future in your own hands. How to find a job during a recession. Adopt a philosophy that works

Unrealistic scenarios and promises are counter-productive. When planning our future, we should think twice before trusting exaggerated positive statements. On the other hand, we should also refrain from painting all alternatives as dark and all attempts as hopeless.

Realism is the essential quality of people who overcome adversity

Various approaches have been tried against poverty, with different levels of success. Living in an environment of deprivation can undermine a man's spirit and this is why he needs to figure out a feasible plan to improve his situation. What we know is that unrealistic expectations do not work.

If you happen to find yourself living in a poor district of town, you do not need to give up your hopes of a better future. If you are suffering from lack of formal education, becoming bitter is not going to improve anything.

What is needed is to take action to detect and seize available opportunities, but frequently, those can only be perceived when we look at the world realistically. When a man is unemployed or stuck in low-income occupations, he might develop a view of the world that prevents him from seizing his chances.

Life always offers opportunities to improve your situation, but those may be far from self-evident


The conviction that nobody is going to listen to one's troubles does not necessarily correspond to reality. The perceptions that nobody is going to help and that no one cares are contrary to the fact that opportunities, although scarce, do exist.

The great news is that businessmen, generally speaking, like to grow their companies and that this creates sales openings in many areas. The way out of poverty involves the recognition that a man must often take whatever jobs are offered, even if he would have liked to do something else.
 

There are always jobs available in some part of the economy

Sales work is available almost at any time, irrespective of the overall economic situation, since selling is the most critical business function. Taking a sales position is frequently the only way available to break out of poverty into fields of better opportunity, so here is my advice:
  1. Go to the public library, borrow some books about sales, and study them.
  2. Get a suit and a tie, even if they are second hand, so that you can go to interviews.
  3. Forget about fixed-income jobs and look instead for a sales position.
  4. Ignore those around you who criticize or ridicule your ambitions.
  5. Watch the best-performing salesmen in your company and listen to their advice.
  6. Keep on reading about sales and learn as much as you can about your industry.
  7. Gain experience and become proficient in sales.
  8. Move to a better sales job.
  9. In the future, consider the possibility of starting your own company.
Take your future in your own hands

Taking the future in one's own hands might require discarding unrealistic ideas held in the past. The fact is that some opportunities exist and others are hard to come by. Experience shows that sales work can be the way to a better life, a path that many have successfully walked before.

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 Reinante El Pintor de Fuego under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]


Friday, 20 June 2014

Consistency: The great accelerator of personal growth. Stop running in circles and embrace rational living. The psychological advantages of having a strong sense of direction

While time runs only in one direction, human beings have the privilege of hesitating and zigzagging. Nobody can prevent you from destroying what you have built in the past. You can do away with your possessions and reputation. You can neglect to use your talent and education. You can move forward or start from scratch.

The great accelerator of personal growth


Consistency becomes ethically relevant when it is anchored on fundamental virtues such as honesty and independence. A man can be consistent with his best or worst actions; coherence with the former enhances his moral stature; loyalty to evil precipitates his demise.

Personal effectiveness is fuelled by virtue and accelerated by consistency. A rational man desires to build higher. He wants his health to improve, or at least, not to deteriorate. He expects his family to become a growing source of joy. In his work, he aims at expanding his business or advancing his career.


Contradictions lead to waste and irritation

If he acts in alignment with reality, his expectations will be fulfilled barring extreme bad luck or misfortune. On the other hand, if he behaves inconsistently, chances are that he will make a mess of his life.

Contradictions lead to waste, irritation, and chaos. A wise man corrects his mistakes and reaffirms his commitment to doing what is right. A fool dismisses lessons from experience and blames his errors on others.

When marriages fall apart due to lack of commitment, they leave adults scarred and children stranded. When companies change their strategy too frequently, they accumulate mistakes. When investors buy and sell shares too often, they fail to achieve substantial capital gains.

Personal growth requires a strong sense of direction

On most occasions, contradictory behaviour arises from inconsistent convictions. Without a strong sense of direction, coherence is unsustainable. Without integrated values, ethics become meaningless. Without a reliable compass, maps can provide little certainty.

Even if individuals who perform counter-productive actions are willing to correct their mistakes, they seldom identify what they have to do. The difficulty does not lie in detecting failure, but in extracting valid lessons from experience.

Avoid making the same mistake over and over


If we do not grow in knowledge, we are bound to repeat our errors. The damage that will ensue could have been avoided. If we had understood the cause of the problem, we could have adopted preventive measures. If we had been able to detect the signals of danger, we could have steered our ship out of trouble.

What keeps us making the same mistakes repeatedly? What blocks man's ability to improve? In the great majority of cases, the culprit is relativism, the belief that a good outcome may result from random behaviour.

If people are determined to ignore the link between present actions and future consequences, they will not listen to rational arguments. Even when a person is responsible for catastrophic failure, he will deny any error or fault.

Irrational ideas always lead to inconsistencies


Wrong ideas blind man to reality as effectively as visual impairment. Individuals who embrace relativism choose to ignore the law of cause and effect. In this way, they curtail their ability to learn and become psychologically inert. Neither facts nor emotions can move them, because their minds do not link those elements to each other.

Relativists refrain from questioning their actions and convictions. They consider life unpredictable and causality unfathomable. When they propose improvements, they present them as opinions. When they present opinions, they treat them as facts. When reality belies their philosophy, they reply that both are true but that none of them matter.

Turning around in ethical circles is exhausting. Behaviour A may be encouraged on Monday, elevated to supreme virtue on Tuesday, and discarded on Wednesday. Behaviour B may become fashionable on Thursday, lose popularity on Friday, and be written off on Saturday. A new doctrine might be embraced on Sunday, but for how long?

Woe and waste, when shall this game end? Human beings cannot build knowledge on moving sands. We need a stable morality as much as we need a regular intake of vitamins and minerals. What cannot be apprehended cannot be validated.


Rational values multiply personal effectiveness and happiness

We need a code of values that can be improved through trial and error. Should its length prove excessive, we can reduce it. Should its frame prove too heavy, we can resize it. Should its contents prove too abstract, we can turn them to simple words.

Active minds detect opportunities because stable values connect them to their environment. In contrast, those with shifting views cannot tell the blur from the colours. Without distinct goals, there are no workable plans. Inconsistent convictions lead to wasteful contradictions.


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

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Science has identified the two driving success factors of most human undertakings. Develop a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Move forward in a cautious, thoughtful, and persistent manner

"Love goes towards love, as schoolboys from their books," wrote Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. Since the 17th century, times have changed to remain essentially the same. Is it not a force akin to love that moves customers in the direction of their favourite product? Or spectators to watch every game of their preferred team?

Science has identified the two driving success factors of most human undertakings

Luckily for us, modern men and women, hundred of years of accumulated science have identified the keys to success in romantic and business undertakings. Is it not high time to proclaim that marketing wisdom has rendered Shakespeare's plays obsolete for didactic purposes?

Theatre might continue to exist as harmless entertainment for summer nights, but when it comes to learning dating and salesmanship, you are much better served by the teachings of hard science. Won't you agree with me that only fools would refuse to adopt a proven formula that knows no contrary views? Here is my condensed version of modern marketing truth:

1. Develop a clear idea of what you want to achieve


An entrepreneur promoting a new product or service would be ill advised to walk around blindly trying to convince everybody he meets to make a purchase. Most likely, in that way, he would just waste his resources and make no sales at all.

Like in dating, efficient salesmen establish minimum requirements for their prospects. If you identify your prerequisites in advance, you will be able to discard quickly anybody who doesn't hit the mark. Draw a sharp picture of your target and focus your marketing energy like a laser.

2. Move forward in a cautious, thoughtful, and persistent manner


Investors know that the best kind of assets are those who produce long-term compound growth with little risk. What you want to avoid is a situation where you must continuously shift your money from place to place. Even if you manage to make a decent return on your investment, the need to reinvent the wheel every day will leave you too exhausted to enjoy life.

Effective start-up marketing is about acquiring a few enthusiastic customers who tell their friends about the unique experience that you can provide. In the case of dating, it is even more important that uniqueness in the being goes along with consistency in the telling. From this perspective, dating is a one-number game and marketing is the same.

Anyway, should the scientific formula fail, you can always go back to classical theatre for inspiration. Marketing is, in a way, distilled philosophy, an almost exact discipline as you know, or as Shakespeare wrote in his most famous play: "Hang up philosophy, unless philosophy can make a Juliet!"


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

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Location is not a philosophical issue. Seek personal growth where it is actually possible. Don't hang around where there are no opportunities

If you want to waste your life, you just have to devote your days to searching for things where there aren't. A second formula for squandering your resources is to chase people that are unavailable. The same goes for attempting to travel to places that are not accessible. 

Nobody possesses perfect knowledge

We all engage in this kind of pursuits occasionally and that's fine, since nobody possesses perfect knowledge. What is heartbreaking is when someone persists in trying to reach an impossible goal. Children engage in such attempts and so do mice trapped in a maze; adults should know better than that.

Counter-productive behaviour arises from self-inflicted blindness. We sabotage our interests when we allow our desire for comfort to obscure the truth. If you want cheap oranges, go to Morocco, not to the airport deli.
 

Take action consistent with reason

If you wish to move towards prosperity, take action consistent with reason. This principle, if applied consistently, can bring major improvements to your life. A wise man in search of a job does not go to the desert. If you do that, you might get lucky and find the only opening available, but chances are that you won't.

Imagine that you are working at a factory located in a small town that does not offer other employment possibilities. What should you do if the factory shuts down? You should not waste time hanging around waiting for a miracle. You should pack your things, get into your car, and drive to a place where companies are hiring.

Choose the easy way to prosperity and do not try to sell products where there are no buyers. Sometimes, you find large numbers of empty houses in a thinly inhabited area. This happened because real estate developers made a wrong calculation and wasted a fortune. 



Focus your efforts where there are opportunities

Putting up buildings on locations where few people are interested to buy or rent constitutes pure waste. The lesson to be drawn is clear. Focus your efforts on places where there are customers, jobs, wealth, opportunities, and friendly people.

Nobody should go to Siberia on holidays seeking warm weather. People who prefer to live in areas where cold temperatures reign most of the year usually have good reasons for doing so, such as cheap housing, low criminality, or specific job opportunities.
 

Stay away from barren fields

Location is not a philosophical issue. A man can choose to live wherever he likes best, but if you happen to love warm weather, Siberia shouldn't be amongst your favourite destinations.

Every minute devoted to pursuing the impossible is gone forever without profit. The world is complicated enough as it is. Attempting to hit unattainable targets is pointless; it does not even make a good hobby. Take the easy way to prosperity: stay away from barren fields and focus your efforts on fruitful land.


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

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Finding peace of mind in difficult times. Serenity in times of widespread conflict. Prudence, tolerance and moderation

The 16th century was a period of extraordinary conflict and violence. Disputes about religious and territorial matters divided the population in factions engaged in continuous wars, persecutions, and torture. Luckily, not everybody fell prey to the dominant ideas of the time and a few men taught us lessons that we should strive to keep always present in our mind.
 
Finding peace of mind in difficult times

The French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is one of the most interesting personalities of that time. We would probably never have heard of him if he had been more successful in his profession and businesses, or one should rather say, if he had attempted to become more successful.

After learning Latin, the most widespread language at that time in Europe, and receiving some basic training in jurisprudence, Montaigne spent more than a decade as secretary of different legislative councils and courts of justice in the south of France.

Later on, he resided for a while in Paris, but he was clever enough to realize that his natural aversion to lies, flattery, and pretence made him unsuitable for a lifelong career as civil servant. When he turned 38 years of age, in the middle of one of the worst periods of religious conflict in France, he decided to abandon his career and retire to a farm in the south of France.

Serenity in times of widespread conflict

What followed during the next 15 years was a memorable attempt at living life according to Nature and common sense. Everyday, Montaigne would devote the necessary effort to his farming activities, but not with the purpose of expanding his wealth, but simply to ensure his subsistence and that of his family.

For the rest, Montaigne set himself the goal of reflecting about the good life and writing down his thoughts as he went along. Surrounded by the books that he had accumulated in the previous decades of his life, he wrote continuously during his forties and early fifties.

While his neighbours in the south of France took sides passionately in favour of some ideological faction or other, Montaigne always called for moderation, pleaded for peace, and recommended tolerance as the best policy to ensure prosperity and maintain human dignity.

 
Prudence, tolerance and moderation

Montaigne's essays were published in successive compilations, which he corrected and edited further, until he was happy with the result. The principles of common sense, prudence, tolerance, moderation, and learning from experience, permeate his whole writings, from beginning to end.

Since the 16th century, other thinkers have tried to establish the principles of the good life, but few have equalled Montaigne's erudition and literary skills. For those who, in our age, seek to learn how to live in accordance with Nature, Montaigne's essays are, more than four centuries after his death, still a delight to read.


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

Monday, 16 June 2014

Sleep problems and sleep disorder: What is insomnia? How to get to sleep. The best way to attain serenity. The rational approach to peace of mind

Sleeping pills have become an everyday accessory in modern society. In Europe or America, Asia or the Middle East, rare is the bathroom closet that does not contain some pharmaceutical product to induce slumber. The solution has become so commonplace that few dare to question it any more.

How did we arrive at such widespread social acceptance of chemical dependence? Certainly not because sleeping pills provide a fully satisfactory solution to the problem. If given a choice, the great majority of insomniacs would prefer to find a remedy for their condition that does not involve using chemical substances.

Sleep difficulties, like any other health problem, can be treated by addressing its cause or its symptoms. Herbs and pharmaceuticals focus on the symptoms of insomnia. Their goal is to replace the natural process of falling asleep by a chemically-induced slumber that lasts a few hours.

Addressing the cause of insomnia is a much more demanding undertaking, since it requires introspection and personal growth. Contrary to what you might have heard, most people usually have little trouble figuring out why they cannot sleep well. 


The most common causes of insomnia


Leaving aside environmental aspects such as noise or an uncomfortable bed, the most common causes of insomnia are these four:

  1. An unpleasant job: too boring or too demanding, poor pay, too long hours, high risk of redundancy, an aggressive supervisor, nasty colleagues, professional health risks, excessive stress or fatigue, continuous travel, and so on.
  2. Financial worries: for instance, excessive debt, poverty, investment losses, imminent mortgage foreclosure, risk of bankruptcy, difficulties to collect from debtors, negative cash flow, or being involved in litigation.
  3. Family or personal conflicts: spouse with antagonistic values or interests, betrayal, exploitation, or abandonment, dealing with hostility or discrimination, social isolation, or lack of friends who share the same values and interests.
  4. Health problems: facing heart surgery, awaiting results of critical tests, getting old, suffering from debilitating illness, cancer, or invalidity, extreme overweight or underweight, and any other serious medical condition.

At any given time, most of us will be going through one or several of the above-mentioned situations. Since problems tend to succeed each other at an amazing speed, one will never lack excuses to resort to sleeping pills. Nevertheless, in each case, we will be much better off by using philosophy to achieve serenity.

The antidote to insomnia is peace of mind


The antidote to insomnia is peace of mind. No other alternative, cure, or remedy can address successfully the cause of sleep difficulties. All other options have failed and serenity is the only one that works. What is the process of acquiring and maintaining peace of mind? Which steps should one take?

Eliminating anxiety and stress permanently is equivalent to modifying the structure of a house. Such fundamental change can be carried out, but only with care and little by little. If done properly, it will not weaken the building. The resulting edifice will offer additional space and a more pleasant environment to live and rest.

Dozens of self-help books propound auto-suggestion as the key to achieving success in life. Even if that promise proved true, would it also put an end to insomnia? Let us not forget that sleeping well is a direct consequence of achieving peace of mind, which must come from consistent thinking. 


The best way to attain serenity

For this reason, I submit that the best way to attain serenity and a good sleep at night comprises five elements:
  • Identify your most important problem and write it down.
  • Find out who has solved a similar problem satisfactorily and how he did it.
  • Study the solution, adapt it to your life, and make a detailed plan.
  • Start implementing the plan right away by taking the first step.
  • Follow up your progress and remind yourself daily that you are on the track to recovery.
A dramatic example will illustrate the process. Imagine an individual who has just been diagnosed with cancer. He is told that his illness is in a beginning stage and that he has sufficient time to explore different treatments with good prospects of recovery. On hearing the news, his anxiety mounts and, at night, he has difficulties to sleep.

Such situation leaves little doubt about what your most important problem is. Taking sleeping pills, assuming that they are not contraindicated for cancer, may help you get a few hours of rest, but will not reduce your preoccupation during the time you are awake.


The rational approach to peace of mind


The rational approach starts with gathering information about available treatments, reading success stories, and possibly talking to some of those who have recovered. Once you choose a path of action with reasonable chances of success, you will begin to turn your worry into uncertainty.

As you learn more details about the treatment, your mind will progressively consolidate a schedule of events. You will know what you have to do, at which time, and the results that you can expect. In parallel, your general mood will improve. Your newly-found positive anticipations will lead to regained self-confidence.

Implementing your plan, tracking your results, and making any necessary adjustment in your actions, will in most cases reduce your anxiety and stress. This process should naturally lead to better rest at night without need of sleeping pills. In addition, you will be now equipped with a higher level of self-reliance that should benefit all areas of your life.

Does it sound difficult? No wonder, because few endeavours are as demanding as changing our fundamental patterns. A victory over insomnia without resorting to sleeping pills usually results from facing effectively a major problem in our lives, whether professional, medical, or in relationships. 


May your success be uncontested so that, after a while, you will remember all this just as another milestone in your personal growth. 

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

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Dealing with difficult people: How to resolve conflicts and deal with stress

We all love to give advice to friends who face unusual situations. We tell them to be flexible and break down problems into manageable parts. We encourage them to listen, ask questions, and above all, to be patient. However, when we have to deal with uncommon problems ourselves, we often realize how little our recommendations are worth.

Legend has it that, one summer afternoon, precisely on his 60th birthday, Hammed went out of his house, looked at the sky, took in a deep breath, and sat down on the ground. When his wife returned from the market and found Hammed sitting motionless on the ground, she ran to him and asked him if he was sick.

To her surprise, Hammed answered that he was waiting for a white butterfly to appear. His wife did not understand what Hammed was talking about and was deeply alarmed. She tried to reason with him and convince him to go into the house and have dinner, but Hammed wouldn't listen. "It is written in the book," he explained.

On the following day, Hammed's five sons and three daughters came to visit him. One after the other, they attempted to convince their father to stand up and resume his normal life, but Hammed refused to move. To every question, he gave the same answer in a firm voice. He was waiting for a white butterfly to appear because it was written in the book.

Hammed's wife decided to ask friends and neighbours for advice. "One of them will surely know," she told her children. Nevertheless, when she inquired about the butterfly and the book, nobody was able to provide any useful information. A week passed and, on the first day of autumn, Hammed was still sitting on the ground in front of his house.

Increasingly worried, Hammed's wife called her eldest son. "If your father continues like this, I fear that he will fall sick and die," she said, "I want you to run to the forbidden woods, find Krishna, and beg him for help." Her eldest son obeyed and, three days later, he returned to the house, accompanied by Krishna.

"We have tried everything," Hammed's wife explained to Krishna, "we have asked him a hundred times to stand up." Hammed's children confirmed that their father always replied that he was waiting for a white butterfly to appear because it was written in some book.

One of the family friends shook his head and whispered to Krishna, "I think that Hammed has lost his mind. Is there anything you can do?" Krishna requested them to leave them alone, sat down on the ground beside Hammed, and looked intently at the sky, without saying a word.

An hour of silence went by and Hammed, intrigued, turned to Krishna. "What are you doing?" he asked. "I am waiting for a white butterfly," answered Krishna without looking at the old man. After a long silence, Hammed, puzzled, retook his questioning. "Why?" he wanted to know. Krishna ignored him, but Hammed insisted. "Because it is written in the book," said Krishna.

The sun descended in the horizon and, when the night fell, Hammed turned again to Krishna. "How long do you think that it is going to take before a white butterfly arrives?" he inquired. Krishna must have been asleep at that point, since Hammed had to repeat his question several times before he obtained an answer.

"That is also written in the book," retorted Krishna in a low voice. "For the pure of heart, a white butterfly appears within a day, but the waiting of the impure will be forever in vain." Since darkness was complete, Krishna could no longer see Hammed, but shortly after, Krishna heard him stand up and walk tiredly towards the house.

Krishna went away at dawn, leaving behind the presents that he had received from Hammed´s wife and children. Before his departure, they all asked him how he had managed to convince Hammed to resume his normal life. "I just confirmed to him that a white butterfly was coming," said Krishna, "and then I asked him if he was ready."


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

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