Traditional behaviour models are crumbling in our midst. Old morality is taking the blame for current problems, although often through spurious argumentation. Never mind. Ethical decay has reached such an extent that many parents have given up all attempts to provide moral guidelines to their offspring.
is the basis of correct decisions
Where are we headed? Should we conclude that
principles are relative? That happiness is unattainable through
individual action? That success is more dependent on luck than on
personal effort? To answer these questions, we must point out the
connection between personal effectiveness and happiness.
establishes the basis for making productive decisions and developing
valuable skills. Even in an unfavourable environment, individuals who
possess strong values and motivation grow more effective with each
passing day. Principles are not luxuries, but practical tools that
enable progress and achievement.
Logic and consistency are the
keys to quick learning and rapid implementation. A well-organized mind
absorbs information more effectively than a mind affected by anxiety.
Ethical certainty nourishes psychological stability and personal
The key to sustained personal growth
Sustained personal growth relies on universal
ethical principles. Virtues such as openness, tolerance, and honesty
render individuals efficient and self-confident. Prosperity and
happiness result from consistent action in pursuit of sensible goals.
Nobody can predict the future accurately, but no matter how difficult
the situation becomes, rational individuals will do better than average.
is too much noise in the world and too many offers compete for our
attention. We cannot accept every proposal that promises to improve our
condition. Focusing our efforts on becoming more effective is a simple
way to increase our chances of leading a more satisfying life.
fashions that entertain your spirit for a while will distract you from
important matters. We all want to experience the fresh before it becomes
stale, but do you want to waste your days chasing the latest novelty?
Leading a chaotic life is self-destructing. Without focus and personal
effectiveness, there can be no real happiness.
cannot still the hunger for happiness
agendas and accelerating our life is the equivalent of a sugar-coated
sedation. The pursuit of faster results makes no sense if those are
irrelevant to our long-term goals. Actions that contradict our plans and
ambitions rarely produce beneficial consequences.
cannot still human hunger for happiness. Leading a meaningful life
requires consistent ethical values, long-term plans, and effective
implementation. The link between personal effectiveness and happiness
cannot be denied.
The life of the Ancient Roman writer Titus
Livius (59 BC-17 AD) provides a good illustration of this point. When
Titus Livius turned thirty-five, he looked back at his life and realized
that he had not accomplished much. Like many Romans of good family, he
had enjoyed a solid education, read widely, done some travelling, and
also a little writing.
He had tried his hand intermittently at
everything and achieved pretty much nothing. Since his life lacked
purpose and ambition, Titus Livius felt ineffective and unhappy. He
asked himself if he should continue living in the same way. Was there
something that he could do to give meaning to his days?
Why hedonism and stoicism don't work
prevalent philosophies in Ancient Rome, stoicism and hedonism, did not
provide an answer to his questions. Hedonism encourages man to live for
the pleasures of the day and ignore long-term consequences. Stoicism
seldom provides other contentment than the quiet acceptance of
We do not know what made Titus Livius change his
ways, but we do know the results. Instead of continuing to pursue random
interests, he conceived a wide-ranging project that would take him
decades to accomplish. Instead of wasting time in abstract speculation,
he fixed himself an ambitious goal and figured out how to accomplish it.
the time he turned thirty-six, he had already formulated how he was
going to spend the rest of his life. He would write a History of Rome
unlike anything ever written before. He would speak not only of facts,
but also of heroes. He would recount not only events, but also the
values that had inspired them.
Titus Livius' plan comprised
researching hundreds of documents and writing 150 books, an enterprise
that nowadays would keep busy a complete university department. He did
most of the work himself and it took him four decades.
The importance of formulating lifetime goals
he was very happy devoting his time to such a demanding undertaking.
Such devotion to a single long-term purpose is essential to improve a
man's personal effectiveness and psychological well-being.
Titus Livius died, he was 77 years old. His only regret must have been
that he had not started his project earlier, since he only managed to
complete 142 books out of the 150 that he had initially planned.
you have similar objectives and plans in your life? Have you
established long-term goals for yourself? Do you have a strategy that
consistently favours your personal growth? Are you becoming more
effective at what you do day after day?
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
[Image by Fede Ranghino under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]