Sunday, 12 October 2014

How to make yourself happy in times of adversity

Here is a summary of the questions that I have answered this week:

Choose a pro-active approach

QUESTION:  Should you panic about ebola, an infections disease that is spreading around the world, leaving behind a train of death? 

ANSWER: No, panic is not an effective response to an infectious disease. Instead, you should work at improving your general health and strengthening your immune system. This is an approach that will improve your resistance to all kind of infectious diseases, including the flu and the common cold. Forget about panic and take a pro-active approach to improving your health. Choose a good diet, take vitamins, and drink herbal teas. The stronger you become, the more resilient you will be against disease.

Making the right decisions

QUESTION: A young man asks how he can ensure that he will make the right decisions in most situations in life. 

ANSWER: Yes, if you have clear principles to guide your life, you should be able to make the right decisions quickly in most situations. Do not buy into the theory that everything is relative, since that theory is false. If you want to ensure that you make good decisions, accurately and quickly, what you need is to acquire a rational philosophy, a set of universal principles that apply in all situations. Mistakes are always possible, but a rational approach will make them rare in the short term, and negligible over time.

Rational living, rational working  
Get on the right track

QUESTION: If you had to give someone just one piece of advice to guide his life, what would be it? 

ANSWER: If had to give only one piece of advice, this would be it: Get a rational philosophy to guide your life from beginning to end. Acquire rational values and a logical approach to making decisions. Do not be swayed by nonsense and social pressure. Define rational long-term goals for yourself and pursue them with passion. Ignore people who tell you that you have no chance of success, and that you should give up. Get on the right track, follow your reason, and chances are that you will do incredibly well.

Living the best possible life

QUESTION: How do you achieve happiness? What steps would you recommend to live the best possible life? 

ANSWER: The happiest people I know usually never talk about happiness. In fact, you could ignore the concept altogether since it is pretty useless for guiding your life. Happiness is the result of consistent action in the pursuit of rational goals. It is the outcome of focused efforts to achieve long-term rational objectives. It is the side effect of doing the right thing, day after day, decade after decade. If you focus on living a great life, happiness will ensue naturally. The prescription may be counter-intuitive, but I have seen it work beautifully over and over.
Rationality is the way to happiness 

Overcoming past mistakes

QUESTION: How can I get rid of the guilt I feel for mistakes I have made in the past?

ANSWER: Guilt becomes pretty much irrelevant when you are busy leading a rational life, and pursuing interesting long-term goals. Negative emotions such as guilt, worry, and stress can only flourish in situations of stagnation. If you determinedly give direction to your life, and go after rational objectives, you will soon be so excited about what you do that you will have little time for negative emotions. Discard immobility and choose a pro-active, rational approach.

The key to a healthy self-image

QUESTION: What are the keys for loving yourself? How can you ensure a healthy self-image in all circumstances? 

ANSWER: Loving yourself becomes natural and automatic when you stop caring about irrelevancies, such as whether a particular person likes you or not. Self-confidence and self-reliance, the two pillars of a healthy psychology, are the result of adopting a rational philosophy, and pursuing rational long-term goals. People who are busy doing interesting things will not even think whether they love themselves or not. They just go after their goals, and enjoy every hour of the day. Loving yourself is a side effect of leading a rational life. There is nothing mysterious about that. You just have to take initiative, pursue your dreams, and pretty much ignore people who tell you that you will never succeed.
The Philosophy of Builders
The hidden explanation

QUESTION: What is the explanation for people making obviously large mistakes that completely destroy their lives? 

ANSWER: The biggest mistakes people make are 100% philosophical, even if the consequences are highly visible in terms of financial demise, sickness, destruction, and negative emotions. The major philosophical mistake is to believe that reality is relative, and that you can redefine facts at will. This explains why people engage in obviously self-destructive behaviours that destroy their health, families, and personal finances. Closing your eyes to reality and evading facts is the single reason why people commit devastating errors. All other mistakes are simply derivations from the fundamental sin of self-inflicted intellectual blindness.

Your guiding principle in life

QUESTION: Should you always tell the truth? Should you always be honest? 

ANSWER: No, honesty is not always the best policy. Your guiding principle in life should be to act rationally, which implies that you must think for yourself, and assess every situation. There are many situations in life where honesty is massively irrational, to the extent of being suicidal. Whenever you are dealing with aggressive, dishonest individuals, you are morally entitled to lie in order to protect yourself. Whenever you are being threatened by dishonest individuals, your priority should be your self-defence. You do not owe honesty to people who are themselves dishonest. Honesty is the best policy only when you are dealing with honest, reliable, benevolent individuals. Choose those as friends, and you will have a great life.
When everything  fails, try this

The complete turnaround

QUESTION: A young man feels that he will never be able to turn his life around, never able to become happy again. 

ANSWER: I have seen more people turn their lives around than I can tell. Some of them had lost everything, even their health, but still managed to stabilize their situations, and little by little, get back on the right track. Perspective is the first element in such a turnaround. You need to learn to think long term. You need to learn to look at your future in terms of years and decades. You need to establish exciting long-term goals for yourself, even you will need a long time to achieve them. Once you have done that, you can start pursuing those goals. Very soon, you will be so busy and motivated that you won't even notice most problems that you now may seem overwhelming.

The most important lesson

QUESTION: What is the most important lesson you have learned in life?

ANSWER: The most important lesson that I have learned in life is that you need to remain rational and consistent in all circumstances, no matter how bad the context, irrespective of what other people say. You need to make the effort of sticking to your rational long-term goals, and keep doing the right things, day after day, year after year. Rational action always leads to good results, if given enough time. By staying focused on your chosen goals, you can ensure yourself continuous enjoyment, permanent hope, and increased effectiveness. 

For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living


[Image by smaedli under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

The 10 Principles of Rational Living