Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Self-empowerment through rational living

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 resilience. 

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, challenging goals. 

Rational living, rational working  
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 do great. 

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.  

Rationality is the way to happiness 
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

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

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

The 10 Principles of Rational Living