Wednesday, 29 April 2015

What really works for preventing discouragement

Depression has become so common in our society that, most of the time, we don't even notice it. You can only see the phenomenon through the darkness its exudes. Motivation is replaced by emotional paralysis. Vision breaks apart in doubts. Energy can no longer be replenished and attention gets distracted.

Emotional resilience


If you look around, you will find plenty of examples: Co-workers who lately have been looking sort of sad, call up the office, name some vague problem at home, and disappear for week. Students who have been at the top of their class, start to fail one exam after the other. Thoughtful friends, the kind who used to have strong opinions, suddenly turn silent.

What is the cause of this wide-spread ailment? Where is this malignant wave coming from? The automatic response in those cases is to blame the world. When you talk to men and women who suffer from the blues, you will often find them willing to enumerate all the negative conditions affecting their life.

Those complaints will usually have a sound basis in reality. Some people will tell you stories of abuse and unfairness, injustices of all sorts, inefficiency and dishonesty. Others will speak about their sickness, the ingratitude of their family, treason by friends, loneliness or divorce.

Nevertheless, those explanations remain insufficient to justify the overweening levels of depression in our society. The most important element in the equation is never mentioned. Why is nobody pointing out that, for every dispirited person, you can find a reasonably contented one who is enduring similar difficulties?


Short-term vision

Misfortune and catastrophe are not to be trivialized. Bad luck and sickness can wipe out your savings, your business, your family, and put to test your will to keep on living. Serious problems and painful periods do occur in most people's lives. My point is not that one should become foolishly cheerful in the face of adversity.

Pharmaceuticals aimed at alleviating distress can help to a certain extent, although they are frequently loaded with secondary effects. My message is that, in the worst possible moments, a man owes to himself, to his happiness, to reflect and act with proper perspective. What one should keep in mind is that, on many occasions, depression is a synonym for short-term vision.

The antidote


Rational thinking is the only antidote that has repeatedly proven its effectiveness against discouragement and depression. Seeing obstacles and disadvantages in the frame of a lifetime helps to reduce them to a manageable size.

Drop the false comfort of self-pity. Never allow yourself to limit your own potential. Never give up before the game is really over. Remind yourself everyday that life offers many opportunities. Define your long-term target, sharpen your arrows, and leave the blues behind. You have better things to do.


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

Monday, 27 April 2015

Conflicting values lead to contradictory behaviour

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 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

How to acquire an amazing level of self-confidence

Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468), to whom history credits with the invention of the printing press, was the quintessential self-reliant entrepreneur. He was trained as a goldsmith, plied his trade for decades in several German towns, and it was only in his forties that he identified the business opportunity that would transform his life. 

Taken for granted 

At the turn of the 15th century, reading material was expensive and the choice of titles severely limited. The price of a volume of three hundred pages would exceed one hundred times what it costs today. Less than one per cent of the population was able to read; as a result, only the clergy and aristocracy had access to written information.

Since ancient times, the cost of producing books had been proportional to the effort it took to copy them by hand. A monk labouring at a monastery would need two years to copy and illustrate a Bible by hand. In addition, pages of medieval books were made of parchment, that is, prepared animal skins, which also increased the overall cost of production.

Despite the high price of books, it was obvious that there was a growing market for them. The interesting question is why none of the thousands of people in Europe involved in the production of hand-written volumes had perceived the slowness of the process as a problem. Apparently, before Johannes Gutenberg, the established mode of operation was taken for granted.

For thousands of years, goldsmiths had been using gold to make delicate jewellery, as well as religious and ornamental figures. Gutenberg did not conceive the idea of casting figures with molten metal, but he was the first to realize the massive economies that could be made by casting movable types and using them for book production.


Overcoming failure


His initial experiments quickly revealed the difficulties of the enterprise. What alloy should he use to produce the types? How was he going to melt the thousands of individual letters that are needed to produce each page of a book? How could he increase ink density in order to produce clean prints?

It took Gutenberg many years to master the process. By the time he had overcome one obstacle, another one would appear. His venture led him to incur massive debts, which he could hardly reimburse. Finally, his attempts proved successful and a first run of books came out of his atelier.

In 1455, Gutenberg undertook to print the Bible. By then, he was already 57 years old and fully conscious of the immensity of the task that he had set up for himself. Unabated, he hired help to compose text with movable types, purchased materials, and began to print pages. Several dozen Gutenberg Bibles have survived the passage of time and can be admired today in museums around the world.

Gutenberg's ability to acknowledge individual problems enabled him to create a book production system that changed the course of History. He combined existing technologies into a creative solution to a problem that few people had perceived as acute. The printing press drove down book prices and spread literacy to a larger segment of the population.
 

Problems are opportunities

Are you also able to transform problems into opportunities? When a product or service seems overpriced, do you try to identify the reason? Do you make the effort to analyse disruptions? When you experience irritation, can you name the critical elements involved?

Johannes Gutenberg's career offers us a vivid example of an essential entrepreneurial trait: the ability to isolate difficulties and reduce them to manageable size. Once Gutenberg named a problem, he devised a solution, achieved stability in that area, and moved to the next challenge.

Individuals who try to accomplish too much at the same time frequently feel overwhelmed. Unless you achieve success in some area, you will grow dispirited and might even decide to quit your endeavours altogether. Instead, acquire the good habit of making a list of pressing difficulties.

Name your problems, assess their relative importance, and establish priorities. Deal only with the most critical issues until you have achieved a tolerable level of stability. Once you have improved a specific aspect, move to the next and build it from there. 


In the US and in some other countries, you can use Kindle Unlimited to download my latest book for free

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Friday, 24 April 2015

If you stay alert, trouble will reveal opportunities

Annoyance and irritation are part of daily life. When we encounter unexpected difficulties, we often become emotional and raise our voice. When people oppose our plans, we question their intentions and express our discontent. However, the fact that those reactions are natural does not make them effective.

Anger and discontent can mark the steps to a better life more effectively than conformity. Those who accept disruption without resistance seldom come up with ideas to prevent further perturbation. In contrast, those who hate interruptions tend to be the ones who suggest protective measures.


Problems must be acknowledged before they can be solved

It is not a coincidence that most inventors and entrepreneurs are independent characters. Individuals who trust their own perception do not fear calling things by their names. Exacerbated diplomacy can undermine sincerity and inhibit personal initiative.

Everybody is able to complain, but too few individuals are motivated to analyse problems, study their causes, and figure out solutions. Successful living is a process of dealing with adversity and overcoming obstacles. If we stay alert and adopt an entrepreneurial attitude, trouble can reveal opportunities to improve our lives and careers, and increase our success 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 Jule_Berlin under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Life and happiness are less complicated than they seem

 
If you don't live in the United States of America, you may have never heard of Anna Mary Robertson Moses. She was popularly known as Grandma Moses and died in 1961, when she was 101 years old. Her days were spent working, initially for other people and later for herself.

During her life, Ms. Moses did farm work, cooked, washed clothes, raised her children, and made butter and embroideries. Her earnings remained modest for many decades, but she wasted no time complaining. She simply had too much to do, especially when she became a widow at 57.

Making embroideries kept her busy. It was the sort of work that she liked, a combination of creativity and routine, a challenge to her energies and imagination. Unfortunately, when she turned 76, arthritis prevented her from doing further needlework and she had to stop making embroideries. 

Many people who reach that age give up whatever illusions they have left

They tell themselves that they can go no farther and fall prey to psychological immobility. Once they relinquish their will to live, their physical condition soon catches up with their attitude.

In contrast, when arthritis prevented Grandma Moses from doing embroidery work, she simply acknowledged the fact and searched for an alternative occupation. She chose to take up painting and began to produce her first works, which she would give away to family and friends. 

Before long, her new activity turned into a passion

Grandma Moses would devote about six hours every day to painting, which she did mainly in her kitchen, often producing a finished work in one session. At that speed, her hand quickly gained confidence and mastery. In her paintings, the motives came from her memory and the bright colours from her philosophy.

After a while, she started to put up her work for sale. Since no art gallery would stage an exhibition for a 78 year old neophyte, Grandma Moses convinced a nearby drugstore to showcase her work. Her asking price was just a few dollars per painting.

As chance would have it, an art collector passed by the drugstore, saw her paintings, and purchased a few of them. Those sales proved that, if she persisted, she could become a professional artist. The collector's reaction predicted what millions of people would later come to experience when confronted with Grandma Moses' art: freshness, authenticity, and hope.

Little by little, her work found its way into exhibitions and galleries, initially with other artists and later alone. When Grandma Moses became famous, she was well into her eighties. Day after day, she continued to produce new paintings with an energy that few other artists could match. 

Her compositions portray the joy of purposeful human activity

Her canvasses frequently ignore the classical rules of perspective, but are filled with colour and charm. Each of Grandma Moses' paintings is an affirmation of the pleasures of simplicity. Unaffected by her success, she continued to produce new works well beyond her 101st birthday.

If you are convinced that prejudice, age, or any other factor are denying you opportunities, you might be right, but that's beside the point. The question has to be formulated in a different manner: What are you going to do to circumvent obstacles and improve your situation? More often than not, a path to success can be found.

Should you consider your circumstances too distressing, the work of Grandma Moses might provide you the inspiration you need. See if you can get some colour posters of her paintings. Place the posters on your kitchen wall and let their optimism change your mood. 

Life and happiness are less complicated than they seem

You wake up in the morning, you stay alert, and seize opportunities as they come. The message from Grandma Moses is reflected in her compositions: a world full of light that has little need of shadows.

Discouragement and complaints are dead-end projects that you shouldn't pursue. Those who are busy moving forward have no time for lamentations. Immobility keeps you down, but action generates opportunities. The tide will turn today: don't miss it.

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 generationD3 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The 137 best blogs about personal development

  1. Abundance Tapestry
  2. Albert Ellis Institute
  3. Always Well Within
  4. Advances in the History of Psychology
  5. Anxiety No More
  6. Anxiety Slayer 
  7. Art of Non-Conformity (Chris Guillebeau)
  8. Art of Charm, The (Jordan Harbinger)
  9. Association for Psychological Science
  10. Barrie Davenport 
  11. B Brown Random Tagline 
  12. Brian Kim
  13. Bold Life, The
  14. Bounce Blog, The
  15. British Psychological Society
  16. Calm Monkey, The 
  17. Canfield, Jack 
  18. Chance Scoggins 
  19. Craig Harper (Australia)
  20. Daring Adventure
  21. Deric Bownds Mindblog 
  22. Do it myself (Glenda Watson Hyatt)
  23. Dragos Roua 
  24. Dumb Little Man 
  25. Early to Rise
  26. Egoist Blog, The
  27. Ellis, Debbie Joffee
  28. Elliott Hulse 
  29. Empower Blog (Dr Hiten Vyas)
  30. Enjoying the Small Things (Kelle Hampton)
  31. Escape Adulthood
  32. Experimental Philosophy 
  33. Extraordinary Ordinary, The
  34. Fancy Feet (Heidi Cave)
  35. Flourishing Life, A
  36. Four-Hour Work-week (Tim Ferris)
  37. Gail Brenner 
  38. Gala Darling
  39. Greater Good 
  40. Hansen, Mark Victor 
  41. Happiness in this World 
  42. Happiness Project, The
  43. Happy Girl
  44. History of Psychology 
  45. Home-life Simplified (Australia)
  46. Hope to Cope 
  47. Ian's Messy Desk 
  48. Influence People (Brian Ahearn) 
  49. Inspire Me Today
  50. James Altucher
  51. John Vespasian
  52. Jungle of Life, The
  53. Kimchi Mamas
  54. Larry Winget
  55. Les Brown
  56. Life Dev 
  57. Lifehack 
  58. Life Optimizer
  59. Literary Lawyer, The
  60. Live Bold and Bloom 
  61. Living Rationally 
  62. Living with anxiety 
  63. Love and Smiles 
  64. Maverick Philosopher 
  65. Manage Your Life Now
  66. Martin Poldma 
  67. Meant to Be Happy 
  68. Mindful 
  69. Mindhacks
  70. Miz Meliz
  71. Mudita Journal
  72. My Super-Charged Life
  73. National Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapists
  74. Oliver Burkeman
  75. OK Dork (Noah Kagan)
  76. One Crafty Mother
  77. Optimistic Life
  78. Panic and Depression 
  79. Partially Examined Life, The 
  80. Penelope Trunk 
  81. Personal Excellence 
  82. Personal Success Factors
  83. Personal Success Today
  84. Philosophers Anonymous
  85. Philosophy and Life  
  86. Philosophy Blog, The
  87. Philosophy Etc 
  88. Philosophy in a Time of Error
  89. Philosophy Talk 
  90. Pick the Brain
  91. Please Feel Beautiful
  92. Positive Blog 
  93. Positive Provocations
  94. Positive Sharing
  95. Proctor, Bob
  96. Prolific Living
  97. Providentia
  98. Psych Central
  99. Psycholocrazy 
  100. Psychological Science
  101. Psychologies Magazine (United Kingdom)
  102. Psychology of Well-being, The
  103. Psychology Today Blogs
  104. Psychology Tomorrow Magazine
  105. Pursuit of Happiness
  106. Radiant Soul Space (Otiti Jasmine)
  107. Ramble. Focus. Ramble.
  108. Rational Philosophy
  109. Rationally Speaking
  110. Recovering Engineer, The
  111. Reflecting a Life 
  112. Research Digest on Brain and Behaviour 
  113. Richard Koch
  114. Robert Ringer
  115. RSD Nation 
  116. Start of Happiness, The
  117. Sensophy (Jacob Sokol)
  118. Shake Off the Grind
  119. Simple Productivity Blog  
  120. Situationist, The
  121. Splintered Mind, The
  122. Stefan Molyneux 
  123. Steve Pavlina
  124. Steven Aitchison (Change your thoughts, change your life) 
  125. Talent Develop 
  126. Teaching High School Psychology
  127. Time Shifting
  128. Tiny Buddha
  129. Today is That Day
  130. Tracey Cleantis
  131. Try to Stay Positive 
  132. Unclutterer 
  133. Unlimited Choice
  134. Up Popped a Fox
  135. Vishnu's Virtues
  136. Wisebread
  137. Zen Habits

Monday, 20 April 2015

Do not let adversity render you blind to opportunity

From time to time, it can be beneficial to sit down and make a list of all factors that are keeping you down. Make sure that you have plenty of paper available since the outcome might be long. If this is your first attempt at compiling such list, don't overdo it. A dozen pages will do.

A long list of problems

Depending on your age and circumstances, you may wish to write down that you are too young or too old. If you live in the countryside, you should mention that opportunities are scarce. If you inhabit the city, that competition is fierce.

Should you be looking for a job, write a remark that the market is hard. For half of the open positions, your experience will be insufficient; for the other half, you will be overqualified. The situation will be worse if you are going out on dates. Those who might love you won't recognize you and those who approach you might not fit your needs.

After you have finished your list, read it aloud. In view of the obstacles that are blocking your way, the conclusion seems inescapable. The arguments have been heard and judgement cannot be deferred. Would you agree that no improvement is possible?

You aimed at a target and missed, so stop running and quit. You tried your best and it didn't work, so go away and never return. Your attempts did not lead to success, so it's time to abandon your quest. You have wasted your resources and exhausted your forces.

Your best ideas are spent, your best years filled with discontent. Since your performance did not earn a decoration, you can choose between abdication and resignation. Your ambitions are impossible to achieve, how could you ever be so naive?
 

Turning the situation around

Nonetheless, even if your difficulties seem insurmountable, the above conclusions are wrong. Thousands of individuals overcome much worse problems than the ones you have. Those who search for better ways tend to multiply their chances of success.

As long as you refuse to quit, possibilities continue to exist. The tide will turn today, washing away yesterday's waste and bringing new opportunities. Turn around, face the water, and look for the best moment to sail away from the coast.

Irrespective of your background and constraints, your situation can change for the better. Male or female, young or old, you should relentless pursue your goals. Most problems can be solved if they are faced with courage and creativity. Obstacles can be circumvented and solutions invented. Do not let adversity render you blind to opportunity.


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

Thursday, 16 April 2015

In praise of determined, intelligent persistence

"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."

The rational approach

The rational approach to dealing with personal deficiencies and bad luck 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, remember your uniqueness. You are unique in your genetic characteristics and personal circumstances. Do not compare yourself with others. Irrational comparisons bring nothing but misery.

Second, do not remain passive. Take action. Discard unrealistic expectations and figure out how to make the best of your situation. Look for practical solutions. Assess different alternatives. Make a plan and implement it consistently.

The chosen path

Third, make a vow to persist until you find the way. 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, keep your peace of mind, even if things don't work as you would like. 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 to work more often than not.

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

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Minimize your psychological and financial dependence

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.
 

Minimize your risks

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:

Protect your privacy


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.

Create a financial reserve


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.


In the US and in some other countries, you can use Kindle Unlimited to download my latest book for free

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Monday, 13 April 2015

Why you should discard bromides and embrace rationality

Few are able to keep a cool head when facing insurmountable 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?

Severe problems

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.

Nowadays, many of those affected by severe problems, 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?

A blurred vision


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.


Aristotle's advice

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 rationality as a way to attain happiness. Unfortunately, the voice of the philosopher seems long forgotten.

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

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Between winning routines and unproductive distractions

The vision of life as a sequence of work interrupted by holiday trips was born a century ago, but our mental patterns are more than 5.000 years old. The practice of going away at regular intervals and leaving everything behind would have seemed incomprehensible to most 19th century entrepreneurs, composers, or inventors. They would have looked at us with surprise and inquired about the purpose of all that travelling.

Productiveness and happiness


The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is known to have spent his entire life in Konigsberg, a city that nowadays belongs to Russia. Apparently, he never wandered more than a few kilometres away from Konigsberg, where he worked for decades as a university professor. If he had wished to travel, he possessed the means to do so.

Kant never crossed the ocean to see America and never visited Russia, even though St. Petersburg is not far away from Konigsberg. He never went to London, never set foot in Paris, and never spent a summer in Rome. For all we know, he did not even go to Berlin for a weekend. If this sounds boring to you, wait until you read the whole story.

Due to financial difficulties in his youth, Kant was forced to interrupt his studies for a couple of years. He eventually managed to obtain an advanced degree and, when he was 31 years old, he landed a teaching job at the University of Konigsberg, where he would continue to lecture until his retirement decades later.

Sound daily routines


For most of his life, Kant did pretty much the same every day, irrespective of the season. He would have breakfast, walk to the University, teach his classes, have lunch, do some research, write a few pages of his next book, return home, and have dinner.

When his friends urged him to have a more active social life, Kant politely replied that he had no time. There was always some exciting subject that he was researching or some important book that he was planning. His writing kept him busy, leaving little room for travel and other activities.

After a quarter of a century at his job, he produced his most important book, the Critique of Pure Reason (1781). When the volume was published, Kant was already 57 years old and fully conscious of the importance of what he had accomplished. History would prove him right. His work has exerted foremost influence on philosophers during the last two centuries.

The insights contained in Kant's book prepared the ground for scientific discoveries and industrial development. His ethical theories, which underline the role of reason, stressed the importance of individual responsibility.

Clear-cut decisions


Would Kant have written such exceptional book if he had spent several weeks per year travelling for pleasure? Would he have produced such extraordinary achievement if he had interrupted his work at regular intervals? No, obviously not.

Do not assume that you are obliged to follow the trend. If there is a lesson to be learned from Kant's life, is that you can attain great success without going anywhere. Travelling for pleasure can be great fun, but if there are better things that you could do with your time, do not let anybody decide for you.


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

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Friday, 10 April 2015

Before you imitate other people, read this

Travelling for pleasure is a modern phenomenon. Before the twentieth century, few people undertook long journeys if it was not for investment or trade. Moving from one country to another was uncomfortable and expensive. Before vaccination became an everyday procedure, malaria and yellow fever presented major health risks for those travelling to tropical areas.

The enticement

In our days, public taste has shifted to the opposite extreme. From teenagers to pensioners, millions of individuals devote their holidays to visiting distant cities. Airlines offer affordable tickets to cross the ocean, inviting consumers to spend their next vacation exploring exotic cultures. Who can resist their enticing advertisements?

The fact that large numbers of people travel for pleasure provides evidence of its popularity, not of its benefits. Many individuals count smoking, overeating, and excessive drinking amongst their favourite occupations. The enjoyment derived from those activities does not automatically qualify them as advantageous. Judgement should be passed on the basis of rational assessment, not of popularity.
 

Novelty without purpose

While dogs and cats appear perfectly contented to move around without purpose, human beings tend to become restless. Travelling dissolves our routines and forces us to start from scratch. Encountering novelty can be pleasurable, but too much of it leads to exhaustion.

Spending your vacation in an unusual location guarantees that you will meet new people and taste exotic food. For the duration of the break, you will forget your routines and feel exempted from preoccupations. The idea is that, since you have worked hard for months, now it is your turn to enjoy a holiday.

Using your time wisely


On the other hand, if you are one of those who loves his work and is inclined to introspection, you might experience some doubts: Should you really be there? Don't you have better things to do? What is the point of all these vacation trips? Are you not wasting your time?

While exotic vacations are fine for some people, other individuals find them disruptive. Depending on your personal philosophy and the type of activities you like, extended travelling might or might not be the right thing for you. 

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

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Go for promising projects and drop everything else

Although there is no foolproof formula for identifying dead-end projects, experience provides us with effective guidelines. The sooner we recognize a losing pattern, the faster we can correct it or escape it. If you want to increase your chances of leading a happy life, it is crucial that you avoid projects that lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. The following eight questions can help establish if a project is worth pursuing or not.

Create new assets

First, does the project create assets or liabilities? Valuable undertakings provide the foundation for a better future; detrimental activities destroy resources. The worst sort of ventures are those that create permanent liabilities. Never embark yourself on an enterprise that requires you to make disproportionate commitments.

Second, does the project involve dealing with nice or unpleasant individuals? Dead-end projects attract bitter persons who relish in sharing their misery. Enterprises that possess a culture of aggressiveness hire workers who are nasty and mean. Those environments are not conductive to success; seek out kind people and do your best to avoid the rest.

Third, is your project inspired by reason or by prejudice? Rigid preconceptions constitute a disadvantage in the age of globalisation and internet. Prejudice cannot provide a sound basis for cooperation and friendship. Avoid projects based on cultural bias; instead, choose activities inspired by reason.


Fourth, does it develop valuable skills or is it just a hobby? The best games make us acquire useful habits and think for ourselves; similarly, the best sports improve our overall physical condition. In contrast, dead-end activities have restrained scopes with no wider application; they are doomed to remain hobbies forever.

Take a global view

Fifth, does it have a local or international focus? Minority languages, despite their many charms, cannot match the array of possibilities offered by English, Spanish, French, and German. Projects with strict local focus provide few opportunities for growth and learning. Activities with a global view allow participants to meet many interesting people.

Sixth, does the project encourage production or consumption? Activities that consume a massive amount of resources cannot be carried out for long. If you work in the field of development, choose projects aimed at building up productive skills in the local population. The purpose of sustainable development is to provide individuals with know-how so that they can generate a steady income for themselves.

Seventh, does it create a feeling of adventure or routine? The best enterprises possess high goals that motivate participants to perform everyday activities that often are unchallenging or boring. Inspiration transforms routine into adventure. Undertakings that do not provide an ennobling vision of the future will rarely be worth your time.

Eighth, does the project encourage growth or simply tries to prevent decay? History changes markets and fashions; the clock cannot be turned back. Worthy activities follow current trends and attract new customers; in contrast, unworkable projects attempt to maintain dying traditions; they have already lost the race against time.

The right choices


Stop wasting time on dead-end projects. As soon as you identify a losing pattern, discard rationalisations and analyse your motivation. Shun activities that keep you running in circles; instead, seek out opportunities for growth and learning; choose projects that enhance productiveness, cooperation, kindness, and friendship.  

In the US and in some other countries, you can use Kindle Unlimited to download my latest book for free  


Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The 137 best blogs about personal development

  1. Abundance Tapestry
  2. Albert Ellis Institute
  3. Always Well Within
  4. Advances in the History of Psychology
  5. Anxiety No More
  6. Anxiety Slayer 
  7. Art of Non-Conformity (Chris Guillebeau)
  8. Art of Charm, The (Jordan Harbinger)
  9. Association for Psychological Science
  10. Barrie Davenport 
  11. B Brown Random Tagline 
  12. Brian Kim
  13. Bold Life, The
  14. Bounce Blog, The
  15. British Psychological Society
  16. Calm Monkey, The 
  17. Canfield, Jack 
  18. Chance Scoggins 
  19. Craig Harper (Australia)
  20. Daring Adventure
  21. Deric Bownds Mindblog 
  22. Do it myself (Glenda Watson Hyatt)
  23. Dragos Roua 
  24. Dumb Little Man 
  25. Early to Rise
  26. Egoist Blog, The
  27. Ellis, Debbie Joffee
  28. Elliott Hulse 
  29. Empower Blog (Dr Hiten Vyas)
  30. Enjoying the Small Things (Kelle Hampton)
  31. Escape Adulthood
  32. Experimental Philosophy 
  33. Extraordinary Ordinary, The
  34. Fancy Feet (Heidi Cave)
  35. Flourishing Life, A
  36. Four-Hour Work-week (Tim Ferris)
  37. Gail Brenner 
  38. Gala Darling
  39. Greater Good 
  40. Hansen, Mark Victor 
  41. Happiness in this World 
  42. Happiness Project, The
  43. Happy Girl
  44. History of Psychology 
  45. Home-life Simplified (Australia)
  46. Hope to Cope 
  47. Ian's Messy Desk 
  48. Influence People (Brian Ahearn) 
  49. Inspire Me Today
  50. James Altucher
  51. John Vespasian
  52. Jungle of Life, The
  53. Kimchi Mamas
  54. Larry Winget
  55. Les Brown
  56. Life Dev 
  57. Lifehack 
  58. Life Optimizer
  59. Literary Lawyer, The
  60. Live Bold and Bloom 
  61. Living Rationally 
  62. Living with anxiety 
  63. Love and Smiles 
  64. Maverick Philosopher 
  65. Manage Your Life Now
  66. Martin Poldma 
  67. Meant to Be Happy 
  68. Mindful 
  69. Mindhacks
  70. Miz Meliz
  71. Mudita Journal
  72. My Super-Charged Life
  73. National Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapists
  74. Oliver Burkeman
  75. OK Dork (Noah Kagan)
  76. One Crafty Mother
  77. Optimistic Life
  78. Panic and Depression 
  79. Partially Examined Life, The 
  80. Penelope Trunk 
  81. Personal Excellence 
  82. Personal Success Factors
  83. Personal Success Today
  84. Philosophers Anonymous
  85. Philosophy and Life  
  86. Philosophy Blog, The
  87. Philosophy Etc 
  88. Philosophy in a Time of Error
  89. Philosophy Talk 
  90. Pick the Brain
  91. Please Feel Beautiful
  92. Positive Blog 
  93. Positive Provocations
  94. Positive Sharing
  95. Proctor, Bob
  96. Prolific Living
  97. Providentia
  98. Psych Central
  99. Psycholocrazy 
  100. Psychological Science
  101. Psychologies Magazine (United Kingdom)
  102. Psychology of Well-being, The
  103. Psychology Today Blogs
  104. Psychology Tomorrow Magazine
  105. Pursuit of Happiness
  106. Radiant Soul Space (Otiti Jasmine)
  107. Ramble. Focus. Ramble.
  108. Rational Philosophy
  109. Rationally Speaking
  110. Recovering Engineer, The
  111. Reflecting a Life 
  112. Research Digest on Brain and Behaviour 
  113. Richard Koch
  114. Robert Ringer
  115. RSD Nation 
  116. Start of Happiness, The
  117. Sensophy (Jacob Sokol)
  118. Shake Off the Grind
  119. Simple Productivity Blog  
  120. Situationist, The
  121. Splintered Mind, The
  122. Stefan Molyneux 
  123. Steve Pavlina
  124. Steven Aitchison (Change your thoughts, change your life) 
  125. Talent Develop 
  126. Teaching High School Psychology
  127. Time Shifting
  128. Tiny Buddha
  129. Today is That Day
  130. Tracey Cleantis
  131. Try to Stay Positive 
  132. Unclutterer 
  133. Unlimited Choice
  134. Up Popped a Fox
  135. Vishnu's Virtues
  136. Wisebread
  137. Zen Habits