Here is a summary of the questions that I have answered this week:
QUESTION: A woman feels depressed because she cannot find a job.
ANSWER: The problems are solvable, but it's going to take some work and, above
all, patience. A job can always be found if you search persistently, and
remain flexible about hours and location. However, in order to improve
your morale and motivation, I strongly recommend reading philosophy and
history. It will help you gain perspective, self-confidence, and
QUESTION: Why are we not happy all the time?
ANSWER: Constant happiness would be a sign of mental paralysis, comparable to
having taken some mind-altering substance. Human beings naturally want
to improve their situation all the time, and this is a natural source of
relative unhappiness. When you achieve A, you want to try to achieve B,
and then you want to achieve C. Real happiness is never static. It is a
dynamic feeling of satisfaction that comes from the pursuit of worthy,
How to deal with a hostile environment
QUESTION: A young man hates his life, finds the environment around him hostile, and the people unfriendly and unreliable.
ANSWER: The problem is solvable with some effort. First, check your values and
make sure that they are rational and consistent. Second, define your
long-term goals, not just for next year, but for a lifetime. Third,
start moving towards those goals right away. If you do that, you will
never again be bothered by people who are confused, negative, or
erratic. Just follow your own way quietly and effectively, and you will
QUESTION: A man experiences sudden mood changes that make it difficult to him to lead a normal life.
ANSWER: Sudden mood changes can often be attributed to philosophical
inconsistencies. Unless you check your premises and align your values,
chances are that the mood oscillations will continue. The best way to
attain a balanced, steady personality is to adopt a rational philosophy,
but this takes some effort and dedication.
QUESTION: A young man feels extremely sad and cannot find a way forward.
ANSWER: I am convinced that you can massively improve your situation in the
future, but it is going to take some effort. You may be able to improve
your health through some natural treatment (herbal, vitamins, diet,
exercise), and also improve your mood by studying philosophy and
history. Do not be discouraged if you cannot turn the situation around
right away, but with some effort and patience, chances are you will do
better than can possibly imagine today.
No need of exaggerated stress
QUESTION: Are worries and stress ever justified in life?
ANSWER: Yes, a reasonable level of concern for current and future problems is
perfectly justified. However, you have to draw the line between
reasonable concern and exaggerated stress. For this purpose, a rational
philosophy is indispensable. Your long-term goals provide the criteria
for assessing how much you should care about today's random noise and
assorted little problems.
QUESTION: What is the purpose of living? What is the point of life?
ANSWER: Happiness is the point, a deceivingly simple answer. Most people are
only going to find happiness in the pursuit of an absorbing, fascinating
long-term goal. Other aspects of life can be also enjoyable and
pleasurable, but I would not bet of them as sources for long-term
happiness. This explains why a teleological system of ethics is
essential for allocating your time, interests, and efforts.
QUESTION: How long does it take to find a romantic partner?
ANSWER: It depends on how hard you work on it. Most people cannot devote much
time to dating and meeting new friends, and the whole process is
somewhat driven by random events. How long does it take to find the
right person? Between two weeks and two decades. If you want to shorten
the time, look for the right environment, the right kind of people, and
become socially active.
The key to long-term happiness
QUESTION: What makes you feel happy in life? What are your best moments?
ANSWER: If you ask the question in subjective terms, it would not be of much
value, since you would only get anecdotal responses. I would reformulate
the question as: "What makes human beings happy?". Then I can answer
that, in most cases, the greatest happiness is drawn from the pursuit of
difficult, but achievable long-term goals. This explains why a system
of teleological ethics is the most conductive to happiness.
QUESTION: Why I am losing interest in life? Why do I feel void inside?
ANSWER: The key issue is to develop a long-term vision, a clear idea of where
you want to be in the next decades, what you want to do. Without this
perspective, it is just not possible to allocate your time rationally,
and deciding whether you should be spending your time doing A, working
on B, or pursuing C.
QUESTION: A young man feels completely demotivated and doesn't know what to do with his life.
ANSWER: To a great extent, motivation is a myth. Having a rational philosophy,
values, and self-discipline play a much more important role in getting
things done. Without long-term goals, it is easy to lose the overview of
where you are going. The real question is not about getting out of bed
today, but figuring out where you want to be tomorrow, next year, and in
the next decade.
Zero anxiety about the future
QUESTION: A teenager feels anxious because he has no clear idea of the future. He doesn't know what he wants to be in life.
ANSWER: Fourteen years old seems to me a bit too early to choose a profession.
At that stage, I would focus my efforts on acquiring a good foundation
in philosophy, history, and sciences. Time will tell which path will be
the best, but if you develop your intellectual skills, you will have no
problem in finding the right place.
QUESTION: Someone with an introvert personality wants to find a suitable occupation, a job or profession where he doesn't have to do things he doesn't feel comfortable doing.
ANSWER: There are dozens of occupations where introvert people possess an
advantage over extroverts. Jobs or professions related to knowledge
management, design, planning, trend analysis, or investment might be
particularly interesting. Otherwise, gardening, agriculture, and machine
installation and maintenance would also fill the requirement.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by Fr Antunes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license
terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]