Sunday, 30 November 2014

Why you should choose rational living instead of stress, anxiety, depression, apathy, and despair

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.



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 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Turn off the news (which are always pretty much the same as the day before)

Every morning, it pays to remind ourselves that there is no future in repeating the past. After some time of doing this, the message sinks in and we become more adept to drawing lessons from past mistakes, lessons such as:

* Never expect someone else to solve your problems
* Concentrate on work you love.
* Ignore silly rules and preposterous expectations
* Don't waste your resources

* Mix fun and productivity in every task
* View mistakes as learning experiences
* Drop false ideas that keep you paralysed
* Design your own future and paint your own dreams

* Avoid nasty or deranged individuals
* Delegate as much as you can
* Devote more time to your close friends
* Seek creative alternatives in every situation

* Turn off the news (which are always pretty much the same as the day before)
* Learn to see everything in perspective
* Read your favourite books more frequently
* Park your car and take a long walk


* Spend more time thinking about what's important
* Never expect magic
* Mistrust first impressions and, instead, go for substance
* Pursue your goals relentlessly, despite short-term difficulties

* Prevent problems so that they never happen
* Cook often at home and enjoy wonderful food
* Escape noise, conflict, and nonsense
* Remind yourself that, in the end, time is all you have
 

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

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

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

Friday, 28 November 2014

It's time to discard the myths of popular psychology


Rationality is the way to happiness
by John Vespasian

In a world where philosophy is often reduced to catch-phrases and empty theories, this is a passionate defence of logic and consistency as the keys to happiness. Personal effectiveness, the basis of well-being and success, results from rational goals, workable plans and relentless action. 

In the areas of career, health, relationships and investments, this essay shows how to let go of wasteful propositions, pursue compatible goals, cultivate perseverance and resilience, minimize problems and maximize opportunities. Inspired by the teachings of Aristotle, Maimonides, Erasmus, Montaigne, Epictetus and Spinoza, the book encourages readers to embrace rationality and adopt a self-reliant, entrepreneurial attitude.




1. The untold key to success and happiness
Ten positive trends rarely reported by the media
The way to independent thinking
Trust only your own statistics
Achieving happiness through rationality
Wake up to a sharp vision of reality
Important lessons from history
In search of principles that make sense


2. Fundamental skills that everybody should master
Relentless initiative creates opportunities
An active mind looks for alternatives
Cultivate perseverance and resilience
Avoid waste and embrace frugality
Shun overcommitment and worry


3. The easy way to prosperity
Select a career where you can make a good living
Principles of accelerated learning
Using Ancient Mongol tactics to find employment
Discard the myth of career planning
Growth sectors in the 21st century
Those who can sell are always received well


4. Philosophical ideas to make the best of your life
Take the perspective of a lifetime
Focus on practical solutions
Self-confidence arises from preparedness
Pursue compatible goals
Concentrate your resources on essential tasks


5. Get out of losing situations
Immobility is the enemy of achievement
Train yourself to face nonsense calmly
Throw away unworkable plans
Read the writing on the wall
Take simple measures to protect yourself
You have more options than you think


6. Avoiding major mistakes
Preserve your independent thinking
Don't make the same mistake as Confucius
Entrepreneurship is the opposite of resignation
Abandon perfectionism right now
Waiting for the world to change is a waste of time


7. How to find love without making a mess of sex
Rational values are the basis of great relationships
Overcoming the main obstacle to meeting new people
The high cost of short-term romantic involvement
The entrepreneurial factor in love and friendship
What is the crucial success element in dating?
Break free from artificial social constraints


8. Saving and investing to secure your future
Take control of your financial life
Principles of rational investment
Techniques for reducing risk
How to develop self-confidence as an investor
Saving regularly brings peace of mind
The advantage of turbulent times


9. Principles of optimal health
The teachings of Maimonides
Living in accordance with nature
How psychology can improve your health
Modern theories about prolonging life
How some people live to become 100 years old
The low-cost approach to good nutrition
Effective methods for minimizing stress
Sleeping well by natural means


10. Seeking personal growth one day at a time
Embrace rational principles
The link between personal effectiveness and happiness
Become an entrepreneur in your everyday life
Do not be discouraged by your limited resources
Clear thinking gives you the ultimate advantage
It is on slow days when you make big breaks


11. Conclusion
The human need for logic and consistency
Achieving happiness in a chaotic world
Philosophy summarized in a single sentence
It takes a while, but it can be done


Rationality is the way to happiness
by John Vespasian

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Speed doesn't mean quality, stress doesn't raise efficiency, complexity is not a sign of wisdom

There is a cure for stress. It is not a drug and it is not a fantasy. It won't cost you money, but it is not for free. From those who try it out, some feel born again, others rejuvenated. Experience has shown however that many cannot cope with the freedom that the medicine brings.

The remedy is known under many different names. You may call it simplification or reduction, downsizing or streamlining, selection or choice, reshuffling, refocusing, elimination, or termination. In any case, the concept will be much easier to name than to implement.


An excuse that you should never use

In order to be able to concentrate our energies on the essential areas of our lives, we must first establish clear priorities. The latter, of course, is what makes some people shun simplification. What they dread, like mice running in circles, is to stand still for a minute and question their contradictions.

Rational decisions are impossible for those whose life lacks a sense of direction. Overloading one's days with senseless activities is a psychological defence mechanism against the terror of taking responsibility. Too much to do is an excuse to avoid facing indecision. A hundred random acquaintances cannot replace conversation with one true friend.

Newspapers often report of companies that collapse due to excessive debt. Stress is heavier for the soul than indebtedness for a business. Efficiency begins with clarity. Selection enhances results. Resources are limited in all endeavours, but the time of our lives is the most scarce resource of all.


A dramatic increase in your effectiveness
 

Fruit growers prune their trees once per year in order to reinforce the vigour of the healthiest branches of each plant. Lean trees will produce more fruit than those whose moribund branches have not been cut off.

Shepherds cull their herds at regular intervals to prevent contagious sickness to spread. We all are naturally reluctant to give up possessions accumulated in the past, but frequently, liquidating non-performing assets and reinvesting the proceeds is the best strategy. It is a habit that can dramatically increase your personal effectiveness.

The birds are ready to fly


Retailers put slow-moving items on sale or give them away for free in order to make space on the shelves for more popular goods. Are you investing endless efforts in a dead-end career? How can you reinvent your past and aim at a future that is spectacularly better than your present?

Productivity experts who advise manufacturers always start by asking workers to clear up the factory floor. It is only when misplaced tools and obsolete inventory are removed from the work space that people begin to see their own mistakes. Without visibility, there can be no transformation.

A cluttered agenda is a cage that houses paradise birds waiting to be released. Those birds are your best ideas, the ones that you have not formulated yet. It is high time to simplify your life and sharpen your ambitions. The birds are ready to fly. Open the cage door and set them free.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

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

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

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Self-confidence starts with self-reliance, and self-reliance starts with self-protection

Anyone who tells you that you should always be yourself under any circumstances does not have your best interest in mind. On the contrary, placing yourself in difficult situations for no good reason will prevent you from enjoying life and leave you little energy to develop your talents. Being authentic is great, but not at any cost.

Two critical steps that you should take


When it comes to pursuing your dreams, you will be much better off if you do it the right way. Minimizing your psychological and financial dependence on other people's opinion is a prerequisite for being able to make your own choices without fearing dire consequences. My point is that it is perfectly rational to avoid confrontation in situations from which you cannot walk away.

Increasing individual independence from third parties' opinions is such a fundamental skill that it should be taught at school. The idea that only millionaires possess the means to speak out their mind is false, although unfortunately, such an argument is frequently invoked to favour conformism. The truth is that everyone can take steps to protect his privacy and integrity. In my experience, the following two strategies are particularly useful:


A habit that I strongly recommend


There is little advantage in providing details of your private life to strangers, colleagues at work, employers, suppliers, or anyone who does not belong to your circle of close friends. Why should you give anyone the opportunity to use that information against you or the power to manipulate you in anyway?

Rudeness is unnecessary to protect your private life and, to prying questions, it is often wise to give a vague reply. In most cases, people will accept your reluctance to provide personal details and change the subject.


The bedrock of your self-confidence


Accumulating a financial cushion will do wonders to protect your peace of mind and personal freedom. The temptation to engage into doubtful business or professional practices can hardly tempt a man who possesses enough savings. He will be able to used those to quit his job and spend a couple of months searching for a new position.

Nobody needs to be a millionaire to be able to do that. The real bedrock of self-confidence is not magic or make-belief, but financial foresight. If you save regularly every month, it should not take you too long to accumulate a financial cushion that can take you through a rough period in your professional life.

Make the decision to bring your dependence on other people's opinion down to a negligible level. Find polite ways to show your determination to protect your private life. It is easier than you think and it will save you lots of problems down the line.

Establish a reasonable monthly savings goal for yourself and stick to it until you reach your desire level of safety. By adopting these simple measures and implementing them consistently, you can substantially enhance your well-being, peace of mind, 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 Ross Elliott under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 24 November 2014

Stop reading books (unless you belong to the 3% of the population who are serious about improving their lives)

It happens every spring, but this year, the questioning has been particularly intense. Every month of April, on occasion of the London Book Fair, newspapers publish articles speculating if it still makes sense to publish books.

Only 3% of the population read books, so what? At the turn of the 21st century, one thousand book titles were published for every feature-length film made. Today, the ratio is one to six hundred. The number of films produced every year has increased and, at the same time, the number of published books has diminished.

Are you missing the point completely?


"We live in a visual world," sociologists argue. "In many areas, the written word is becoming a relic of previous centuries." Media analysts blame the trend on video-games and portable DVD players. Others simply say that reading requires too much effort after our long work schedules.

In my view, those commentators are missing the point completely. Despite the abundance of cheap visual entertainment, readers' motivation remains strong. The reason why people read books has nothing to do with the demands of society and everything to do with individual psychology.

The key to consistent thinking

Visual media, due to its structure and economics, is unable to express minority views in a consistent, intellectual manner. In this respect, all has been tried and all has failed. Complex ideas cannot be transmitted without the written word. No photograph and no film can replace a chain of reasoning built in clear sentences.

Films, television, and radio, despite the growing number of channels, can only thrive when they aim at large audiences. They can offer multiplicity in the multitude, but no original ideas. Digital video has reduced the budget necessary to make a film, but not the distribution costs. Actors, good lighting, and a decent soundtrack are still expensive. Books, on the other hand, can still be published and distributed cheaply.

Something new and beneficial


In a film, special effects cannot cure the problems of a weak scenario. Even great acting is unable to sustain a filmed story that doesn't make any sense. How long ago is it since you saw a really thought-provoking film? How often do you gain deep insights from watching television? The written word remains the ideal means to transmit innovative, creative ideas.

The good news about reading is that 3% of the population still remain avid readers. That's not a bad proportion at all. A strong audience for writers is still there, and it is not going to become smaller in the foreseeable future.

Do people read internet blogs for the same reason that they love books? Is it because they want to read original ideas? Do they do it in order to enjoy some fresh writing? I suspect that, for most, the main drivers are the joy of discovering something new and beneficial, as well as a steadfast refusal to join the other 97%.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

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

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

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Self-reliance and self-confidence, two uniquely inviting propositions

Starting anything new entails risks and demands dedication. Whether you decide to take up playing piano, learning French, or building model aeroplanes, it is going to cost you money, time, and a fair amount of frustration due to inevitable beginner's mistakes.

Irrespective of the technical difficulties of your chosen endeavour, nothing can be compared to the level of commitment required to get a new business off the ground. The sheer number of different tasks that entrepreneurs must perform, from product development to marketing, is overwhelming.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship possesses three characteristics that render it uniquely inviting and reassuring. No other human activity offers these advantages to its practitioners. It is regrettable that many men and women graduate from their studies without knowledge of these facts:

Personal growth knows no ceiling


If you spend some time doing research, you will find areas of enterprise that require little or no formal education and negligible start-up investment. By combining elements of your background, knowledge, and personal circumstances, you can come up with innovative business models. In today's global market, you can subcontract most routine tasks and concentrate on what you do best.

While many areas of human action impose strict rules to be followed, entrepreneurs remain free to choose their path. North or south, right or left, the business owner can follow his intuition without need to ask for permission. His only arbiters are his cash flow and his customers' satisfaction. Each entrepreneur determines his own speed and how he will break the barriers to his growth.

You can learn new things all the time


Business is the ideal field for the active mind. No discipline is foreign to the committed entrepreneur. The man who manages his own enterprise is a practical philosopher and a street intellectual. Entrepreneurs' tolerance of mistakes comes from their experience of dealing with all kinds of people. Creativity and resiliency are skills that entrepreneurs develop by facing daily challenges.

If the great potential of entrepreneurship is so well established, what explains that it is only able to attract a small part of the population? There is one reason, one major obstacle that prevents many from crossing the line. You can name it marketing, distribution, income generation, or simply sales.

Overcoming the fear of failure


The fear of being unable to achieve enough sales is what blocks 99% of those who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. Other obstacles pale in comparison to this one. If you succeed in getting over this initial hurdle, chances are that your business will be able to face whatever problems might come your way.

Compared with previous centuries, our digital era has not essentially changed the answer to the sales question. In the field of commerce, like in any other area of life, action is the best antidote against paralysing fear. 

Self-reliance and self-confidence constitute two uniquely inviting propositions. Start small, try different things, see what works and what doesn't. Learn from mistakes, don't be discouraged, and ignore malevolent criticism. Take limited risks, follow market signals, be persistent, and you will eventually get it right.

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

Saturday, 22 November 2014

How to stay cool and effective when things get hot and messy

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

Keeping a cool head during difficult times

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

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

How to use rationality to overcome problems


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

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

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

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

"Wisdom is the most general of sciences," observed Aristotle, "since it requires man to know principles and to follow them. Prudence, on the other hand, is a virtue concerned with the particulars of human action. Prudent is the man who can tell, at the same time, what is the best and what is feasible for him."

Four steps you can take to achieve great results

The rational approach for dealing with bad luck and misfortune starts and ends with reality. Cards are not evenly distributed in the game of life. Expecting others to compensate you for present or past trouble is unlikely to improve your situation. If anything, pity and compassion will paralyse you. What to do then? In my view, these four are the steps that one should follow:

First, understand your own uniqueness: You are unique in your genetic characteristics and personal circumstances. Do not compare yourself with others. It is irrational and brings nothing but misery.

Second, make a workable plan: Discard unrealistic expectations and decide to make the best of your situation. Look for practical solutions. Assess different alternatives. Make a plan and implement it.

Third, adopt a long-term focus: Realize that, more often than not, focused long-term activity is able to counterbalance personal deficiencies, major obstacles, and even tragedy. Keep on advancing on your chosen path and don't look back.


Fourth, maintain your serenity: If you look around, you will find plenty of examples of people who have succeeded despite overwhelming burdens. Maintain your serenity and trust the principle of cause and effect. There is no guarantee of success, but intelligent persistence has proven many times to work.

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

Friday, 21 November 2014

When it comes to happiness and success, wait only the strictly necessary

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

Thursday, 20 November 2014

What makes great achievements possible

Irregular verbs and plurals are the most difficult part to memorize when you study foreign languages. For children learning their mother tongue, atypical cases are also the most complicated. Asymmetrical constructions are slowly assimilated by the human mind, which, at any stage of development, automatically tries to find patterns in reality.

Many causal connexions are far from self-evident


We have created numbers, which are a sequential representation of quantities. We love to understand complex phenomena and find solutions to problems. Our brains seek to identify consequences through observation and logic. Weather prediction comes from generalizing past experience. Looking for order in chaos is natural to humans. It is our way to grasp the world and make sense of it.

Nevertheless, as soon as we begin to gather knowledge in any field, we realize that many causal connexions are far from self-evident. The earth looks flat and it is no wonder that it took hundreds of years to develop and spread the understanding of planetary orbits. Science rests on the recognition that causal connexions need to be, not only theorized, but proven.


Do not fool yourself with short-term views


From all disciplines, philosophy and economics have been the slowest to adopt a scientific approach. Even nowadays, professionals in those fields disagree on basic questions of methodology. Discussing what is true makes little sense if we cannot even concur on the criteria to assess the validity of a proposition.

As a result, defining success and happiness has turned into a haphazard endeavour for most of History. Determinism, which attributes those to chance, remains a wide-spread philosophical error in many segments of the population. A superficial examination of the human condition can lead to see life as a series of misfortunes intertwined with lucky encounters. This perception is as false as the belief that the earth is flat.

Scientists know that observing reality with our eyes and drawing immediate conclusions frequently leads to mistakes. A more accurate view of the world is the result of understanding that a large number of effects can only be perceived long-term. The impact of events is not necessarily local. Actions without consequences to those who performed them can have a devastating outcome for third parties.


Small steps taken regularly can go a long way

Reality is more complex than the eye can perceive and rational explanations more uncomfortable than make-belief. This is why confusion reigns about the roots of happiness and success. Determinism exaggerates the role played by misfortunes and luck in human life. Believing that your destiny is controlled by random events only leads to paralysis and nihilism.

Ambition and purpose, relentlessly implemented on good and bad days, constitute the bedrock of individual progress. Small steps taken regularly can go a long way. Advancing a little every day in your chosen direction is what makes great achievements possible. Big breaks, at first sight, seem to have happened overnight, but the truth is that a river takes years to build a gorge. The results are breathtakingly 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 McPig under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The escape from pragmatism and positive thinking

Learning consists of turning facts into principles for choosing the right course of action. For managers and entrepreneurs, whose success depends on making many decisions at great speed, principles are essential.
"A wise man is not for or against anybody, truth is his only concern," wrote Confucius in the year 510 B.C. 

The science of making wise choices

Unfortunately, during the last sixty years, ethics, the science of making wise choices, has progressively narrowed its ambitions. Instead of dealing with general concerns, discussions have turned to life-and-death situations, such as shipwreck survivors stranded on an island with limited food and too many mouths to feed.

No wonder that, in such intellectual environment, many have given up all attempts to establish universal rules. If you open a newspaper, you will see to what ethics has been reduced: on the one side, pragmatism, on the other, positive thinking. These days, the latter is also being called "neuro-linguistic programming" and "law of attraction."

These two doctrines epitomize the abdication of philosophy. Pragmatism represents reality without principles. Positive thinking prescribes principles without reality. I submit that both are equally unsuitable, but I won't deny that both possess high intellectual appeal and popularity, in particular when it comes to discussing life-and-death situations:


  • YOUR PROFESSION: You lose your job during a recession. You cannot pay the mortgage and bills accumulate. There are no other jobs around and prospects are bleak.
  • YOUR HEALTH: You become seriously sick and cannot work any longer. Medical costs sky-rocket. Then the worst is confirmed. You are declared terminally ill.
  • YOUR BUSINESS: Competition makes you lower prices and your company begins to lose money. Negative cash flow leads to liquidity problems. You are then pushed into bankruptcy. The company that you have spent two decades building disappears.
  • YOUR RELATIONSHIPS: Things at home go from bad to worse. The situation reaches a point where it cannot be saved. Your spouse files for divorce. Your standard of living and your social life are shattered.

Two false ideas to discard

Pragmatism will prompt you to pick up the pieces and build a new puzzle, but it won't give you a blueprint, nor tell you which pieces are relevant, nor how to choose them or weigh their relative importance. Positive thinking will disregard tragedy and assure you that a bright future lies ahead. Since positive thinkers considers details irrelevant, little explanation will be provided.

What sustains the popularity of pragmatism and positive thinking is that both work sporadically, like a broken clock who tells the right time twice a day. The alternative to them, rational philosophy, tends to paint less vivid pictures, but those are truthful and reliable. What about life-and-death situations? The rational view on those can be summarized in three points:

The right course of action


Use rational principles to choose the right course of action long before any sign of trouble appears in the horizon. Sensible eating and exercise will reduce your health risks. Continuous learning will cut down your chances of becoming unemployed. Savings and frugality will get you through difficult periods.

Unless you are suffering from terminal illness, you have time to rebuild your social life, business, or profession. Disregard infeasible plans and avoid taking random decisions. Let your reason define your long-term goals and align your steps accordingly.

The need for consistent arguments


Catastrophe can hit people unexpectedly for no good reason. Even the most talented managers make mistakes from time to time. Nobody knows everything and many factors are outside our control. That's life and it is better to face it and accept it. Stoicism and serenity will allow you to make the best of what is left.
As Confucius put it, "a wise man is sound in thought and diligent in action." 

Ethics is not to be discarded, but rebuilt. What we need for our business and private life is a science that allows us to make the right choices. What we need are logical premises, solid arguments, consistency with reality, and predictable consequences. What we need is reason.

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

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

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

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Rational living: The best approach is often the least expensive

This is a wake up call for those who believe that they cannot reduce their risk of falling sick. When it comes to health, evil is watching you closely at least three times a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nevertheless, the truth is so hard to accept that few people want to make the effort to change direction.

Do you really need expensive health foods?


Although millions of books about weight-loss and dieting are sold every year, have you observed improvements in the health of people you know? Pricey organic items have become popular in supermarkets, but have you witnessed those products having a positive effect on someone's health?

Most people's health-improvement attempts are fraught with waste and disappointment. Despite great intentions and strenuous effort, the tangible results are often negligible. Do most weight-loss plans and prescriptive diets fail because they are unnatural and expensive?

An artificial lifestyle creates stress


What is unnatural goes against the grain. Trying to push people into radically new habits disrupts their psychological stability. On top of that, prescriptive diets often prove impractical and time-consuming. No wonder that many men and women give them up after a while. Who wants to lead an unpleasant and constrained life?

Take heart and stick to your objective of getting in better shape. There is a better way to achieve that goal, a more effective approach that takes into account the psychological aspects of self-transformation. The method that really works is called rationality.

Human beings are essentially logical. We can be fooled for a while, but ultimately, we come around and begin to ask tough questions. We want to make sure that we are advancing on the right track. We want to experience short-term progress in our long-term endeavours. We want to see beneficial results from our commitment.


Choose low-cost food substitution

Low-cost food substitution should be the preferred short-cut to losing weight and improving our health. Forget about purchasing costly exotic vegetables. Don't bother with high-ticket packaged products that promise magical results. Instead, make inexpensive changes in your lifestyle, little by little.

Acquiring healthy habits at your own speed is more powerful than making radical lifestyle changes that cannot be sustained. You may for instance begin by replacing high-fat meat by simple fish, such as trout or halibut. Pick up a sort of fish that is readily available at your local supermarket and whose taste you enjoy.

Another short-cut to a better health is replacing prepared desserts, such as apple pie or ice cream, by simple fruit. Eating a modest apple for dessert instead of chocolate cake is a low-cost habit that anyone can acquire without much difficulty. You may for example peel the apple, cut it to pieces, mix it with low-fat yoghurt, and sprinkle it with cinnamon. This is easy to do and delicious.

When you replace prepared desserts by fruit, choose varieties that are abundant and inexpensive in your area. Keep always some fresh fruit on your office desk, in case you feel the need to have something to eat between meals.


The ideal drink is inexpensive

A third short-cut to a better health is drinking water instead of carbonated drinks. In many areas of the world, drinking mineral water is safer than tap water. See if you can purchase your mineral water at the local supermarket in discount packs and save some money.

At the office, it is a good idea to keep a small bottle of water within reach. Drinking a fair amount of water every day allows our organism to function better. If you can heat water and make some healthy tea, so much the better. Green tea is generally considered a healthy drink, but many other types of tea have positive qualities. Try out different sorts and see which one works best for you.

Once you start on the road towards a better health, there are no limits how far you can go. The trick is to take small but relentless steps. Replace unhealthy habits by rational ones. Get rid of negative influences and embrace a thoughtful approach to living.

If you spend some time reading cooking books, you will realize the possibilities of cooking your favourite meals in healthy ways. You may for instance learn to make pizza at home by mixing yeast and whole-wheat flour. Making pizza dough by hand is not difficult and does not take long. A whole-wheat pizza with tomatoes, tuna fish, olives, and onions is delicious and healthy.


Start moving in the right direction

Rationality demands that we advance slowly and that we enjoy the way. Babies take a year to learn how to walk and three times longer to speak in complex sentences. In dieting, weight-loss, and health improvement, a progressive transformation is usually the one that lasts.

We only live once and little is gained by making ourselves endure unnecessary hardship. Never choose suffering or deprivation if a better option is available. Radical diets can make your days bitter, rarely better. Persistent action guided by reason is the short-cut to a better health.

We are intelligent beings and our minds call for logic and consistency. It is natural that we prefer life to be enjoyable rather than unpleasant. It is understandable that we favour methods that produce tangible results rather than speculative theories. When it comes to attaining better health, check the facts and obtain proof. Then Then make up your mind and move.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

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

[Image by not a hipster under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]

Monday, 17 November 2014

In praise of productive routines and other boring elements of happiness

If you look around, you will find no lack of recipes for happiness. Believe this and avoid that. Don't go there and come here. Throw away the old batch and start from scratch. "Our solution is not hard," you will be told, "I just need your credit card." Here is a list of methods that don't work, never have, and never will:
  • Dubious or unethical practices.
  • Abusing people in any way.
  • Seeking short-term gains that wipe out future progress.
  • Complaining about deficiencies.
  • Trusting luck.
Happiness requires substantial work

Even under the best circumstances, attaining peace of mind and happiness requires substantial work. Without the right principles, those endowed with prodigious gifts by heredity will just bury themselves in sorrow through mistakes and inconsistencies. You can find evidence of this by opening any newspaper.

What is the essence of happiness? How is it determined? How can we steer our life in its direction? These questions can be answered only by pointing out the main difference between human and animal psychology. 


Animals' moods are indissolubly connected to their immediate perceptions. For humans, this link is immeasurably more complex. Since ancient times, philosophers have wondered why different individuals react to the same event with anger, fear, anxiety, or happiness.

Relativism does not explain anything

Placing our hopes on uncertain possibilities is a better approach than believing apparent truths that rest on false premises and unrealistic promises. 

Relativism does not explain anything and serves only to obfuscate truth. "Anything can be good or bad," is not a valid proposition, in particular when one faces catastrophe or personal tragedy. Arbitrary valuations of events are nothing but sophisticated lies aimed at manipulating the naive. What really creates contrasting levels of happiness is how individuals interpret events according to their convictions about the past, present, and future.

It's time to draw lessons from mistakes


No matter how painful, past events can often be reinterpreted as learning experiences. When this approach is unworkable, preceding mistakes or bad luck must be simply accepted stoically. Each human life is unique and must carry its own past, whether positive or negative. From old mistakes, draw lessons if you will, but above all, develop your acceptance skills.

Difficulties and, in particular, boring or unpleasant work are much better accepted by individuals who link them to their long-term personal objectives. Men and women of high ambitions know that performing daily routines well is a requisite of progress. 


The contentment of those who look beyond the present remains incomprehensible to short-term mentalities. This is why the same work can be experienced, depending on individual goals, either as dead-end or as a step forward.

Efficient routines lead to achievement

The progress derived from focused, efficient routines leads to achievement. The path to success might be irregular, advancement slow, and results below expectations, but you can always find another road that will take you father. Animals cannot assess their actions by linking them to long-term objectives. Human happiness is, to a great extent, the result of making such connection and anticipating those goals.

Routine, progress, and achievement constitute the sequence of happiness. Viewing the unique thread that links our past, present, and future is a fundamental gift of philosophy. Peace of mind and happiness start and end with personal responsibility. May all your present routines fit well your chosen destination.


For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my books.

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

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

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Five rational steps towards an unshakeable peace of mind

Most catastrophes are preventable and most tragedies don't come as a surprise. On many occasions, a few minutes of reflection at the right time and a little more opposition when it was uncomfortable to speak up could have saved the day. Nobody is obliged to be a hero, but taking measures to protect ourselves is a primary moral obligation that we should never fail to implement. Here are some ideas.

1. Keep an eye on the market

 Even if you feel absolutely safe in your present occupation, it pays to know what is going on in the employment market, if only to make sure that you are not being underpaid. What kind of benefits are other companies offering to people with your skills and level of experience? In which area of the country are open vacancies at this time?

2. Increase your knowledge and skills

The simple habit of downloading podcasts in your field of experience and listening to them in the car may already put you ahead of many. Read weekly a few blogs and digital newsletters in your field. If you live in a major urban area, advanced training courses are available in the evening and weekends. Take a look and see if any of them fits your interests and career objectives.
 Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief

3. Avoid deranged individuals

In any random concentration of people, you will find a few who are deranged and dangerous. In case that you must deal with any of those in your working environment, try to avoid them like the pest. In most cases, there is nothing that you can do to help them. Do not fall into the trap of assuming that everybody is balanced and well-meaning. Once you identify the risk, act accordingly.

4. Eat sensibly

You don't need to spend a fortune to enjoy a good nutrition. Fast food is cheap and tasty, but you might pay an enormous price later in life. Learn to cook and choose healthy food. Purchase a scale for your bathroom and check your weight regularly. If you are too heavy, take appropriate action, such as making better nutrition choices and walking more often.
 The 10 Principles of Rational Living

5. Save money every month

A few decades ago, when many people didn't have insurance, putting cash aside for a rainy day was considered essential. Sickness, the loss of a job, or a damaged car might place a heavy strain on your finances. Nobody is immune from bad luck or a downturn in the economy. Prudence today might help you overcome a major crisis down the line.

Protecting your life and possessions is crucial to maintain your well-being. Trust only those who have proven to be worthy of your confidence. Never accept offers that look to good to be true. By paying attention to details and acting with common sense, you can enhance your happiness and, to a good extent, protect your success from misfortune. 


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

 Rational living, rational working

Friday, 14 November 2014

How to become amazingly self-confident and self-reliant

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 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

How to become more self-confident by overcoming the myth of complexity

There are too many rules to live by. Too many principles to memorize, clues to follow, and lies to swallow. Too many ideals to discard and too much junk in our yard. The moment has come to simplify.

There are too many rules to live by


Every few years, we read about research performed on twin brothers. This was particularly popular in the seventies, when researchers checked twins' moods, ask them what they ate, and watched them go on dates. Later they recorded how some twins took courses, found jobs, and travelled around the globe.

At the end of each study, facts are typed, tabulated, and debated. Results are never what scientists expected. Why are some subjects doing great while brothers live in a sorry state? How come that often one twin thrives while the other barely survives?

From time to time, more money is poured into such studies and researchers talk again to every twin and his brother. To everyone's surprise, old data is usually not just confirmed, but magnified. Subjects who are successful feel not at all resentful, while apparently, to those who wail and cry, every chance in life has been denied.

Rationality is the way to happiness
Complexity in the method cannot overcome imperfection in the logic

Although the outcome of studies show clear differences between subjects, scientists continue to be clueless about the cause. How is it possible that each twin fares a way that cannot be compared? If not family and background, what makes some people mess around and others rebound?
  • Are there so many factors involved that no conclusion can be drawn?
  • Is every man nothing but destiny's pawn?
  • What is the secret that turns ugly ducklings into swans?
In my view, such investigations have never been able to teach us much because they are based on faulty premises. Undoubtedly, family and origin play a certain role, but so do educational opportunities, an individual's health, the state of the economy, luck, and many other factors.

Complexity in the method cannot overcome imperfection in the logic. Even when computers are fed overwhelming streams of data, they remain unable to grasp what human intuition can instantly deduct by means of fuzzy short-cuts.

Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief

Action is the only thing that counts

In life, action is the only thing that counts. It is what makes your days valuable or sells them at discount. It does not matter whether two men are twins or not. Neither origin, background, or talking can equal the impact of a man walking.

Statistics won't reveal the clue. They can determine neither when nor who. From the many rules to live by, most are not even true. Purposeful, consistent, rational action is the key, a habit that we must daily renew. Decide what you want to construe, take action, and follow through.


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]

 The 10 Principles of Rational Living