Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Quick relief for those who are about to quit

Rational living, rational working
by John Vespasian

Are you trying to live rationally and facing all kinds of difficulties? How do you deal with people who won't listen to logical arguments? How should you react to situations of massive unfairness?

This book provides practical advice on how to live rationally and maximize your chances of happiness in every situation. Amongst others, it will show you how to minimize stress and maintain your peace of mind, benefit from the advantages of non-linear thinking, avoid short-sighted decisions, and increase your resilience during times of adversity.

Each chapter contains real-life examples of individuals who have used reason to surmount obstacles, solve personal problems, and recover from setbacks. The ideas presented in this book will help you make better decisions, increase your effectiveness, and enjoy the benefits of rational living. 


Chapter 1. Become conscious of your uniqueness

A method for building an unshakable self-confidence
Overcome weaknesses in one area by strengths in others
Let go of distractions and focus on your unique talents
The man who taught me how to make the best of setbacks
It is time to discard meaningless comparisons
Why do millions of people waste their talents?

Chapter 2. Dream in decades, but live by days

Get rid of work overload and improve your results
The type of deadlines that generate little stress
Quick relief for those who are about to quit
The right way to deal with adversity
Before you make a rash move, read this
A proven solution to a critical problem


Chapter 3. Understand that most people won't understand
Are you afraid of rejection and failure?
The most effective method for overcoming self-doubt
Warning: irrational motivation can wipe you out
Do not trust inaccurate interpretations
When the wrong choice turns out to be right
Making difficult decisions with as little risk as possible


Chapter 4. Look for healing in nature
Can you maintain your good habits in difficult times?
Three inexpensive remedies for everyday complaints
How emotional stability helps you lead a good life
Practical steps to reduce harmful stress
Do you want to become a centenarian?
The fountain of youth has already been discovered


Chapter 5. Call things by their names
Two thieves that are stealing your life away
How to become immune to manipulation
Exotic explanations are seldom true
A powerful idea that has brought relief to many
Seven types of irrational behaviour to stay away from
The courage to keep asking questions


Chapter 6. Find serenity in silent places
Three mistakes that can destroy your peace of mind
The dire consequences of short-sighted behaviour
How an overstressed celebrity regained his serenity
People who are free of anxiety do this every day
An ancient formula for tranquillity in times of turmoil
Stay away from theories that don't work


Chapter 7. Embrace non-linear thinking
A widespread delusion that can kill your motivation
Four practical lessons you can learn from monks
The opportunities that lie behind disruptive events
How to produce good results with few resources
A non-linear approach is often the only one that works
For those who believe that they have no opportunities


Chapter 8. Stay away from evil people
The personal benefits of a peaceful philosophy
Individuals seldom change in any fundamental way
Avoid recklessness and you'll have a brighter future
Nobody can explain colours to the blind
Withdrawal is a mighty weapon
A true story that showed me how to stay safe


Chapter 9. Make resilience your biggest strength
Ignore fairy tales and you will do well
How rationality reinforces your strengths
If you want to sail far, keep the wind on your back
Enjoy the luxuries of a simple lifestyle
Is the best option so close to you that you cannot see it?
Avoid the temptation to exaggerate your problems


Recommended reading

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Realism is the rule of thumb for sustained personal growth

Most business books revolve around a single idea that is presented from different angles. The same goes for many scientific essays, which tend to be longer, but contain few new ideas. Occasionally, hundreds of pages will be devoted to justifying points which readers might find self-evident.

A call for realism

Darwin's volume on the origin of species was the result of ten years of study and reflection. He actually wrote several outlines before he got down to drafting the book itself. The text, which you will need hours to read, contains dozens of elaborate descriptions and examples. Nonetheless, the message of the book can be summarized on a single page.

Yet, my point is not about the importance of brevity, but of realism. There is a reason why apparently simple ideas require a long exposition. Authors of those books are, for the most part, neither foolish nor focused on selling overblown banalities. Certainly, that was not the case of Charles Darwin.

Don't ignore the truth

A high dose of realism is the rationale for the extensive treatment of subjects. On the same grounds, engineers take safety margins when they design a new bridge, a ship, or an aeroplane. The truth known by every conscientious professional is that failure lurks around every corner. For sculptors, poets, and performers of all sorts, failure is called rejection. If you try to ignore the statistical truth, you will create plenty of stress, anxiety, worry, and depression for yourself.

Romantic movies paint situations where chance aligns all factors for success. A happy end ensues as protagonists collect their dues without effort and against all odds. Fiction of the worst kind renders credibility to fantasy, leading readers to feel dejected by reality and disappointed by life. This is something that you want to avoid.

You will much better off if you face obstacles using reason and experience as your allies. This is what skilled entrepreneurs do. Whether you take up playing golf or acting, you'd better prepare yourself for strenuous practice and open criticism.

The two elements you need

In difficult undertakings, your efforts might remain only moderately effective for an extended period of time and rightly so. Even if you are trying to communicate straightforward truths, you should beware of the fact that even simple ideas are going to be misunderstood by many people. TV advertisers address their commercials to millions of people, knowing that the great majority are not going to buy their products.

The rule of thumb for personal growth is that most things won't work, and that most attempts won't result in success. Rejection and miscommunication are not exceptions, but everyday events. Face negative results, and use wisdom to deal with them. Great ambitions are never easily accomplished. Achieving them requires effort and patience. Those are the two elements you need. Take both of them, and move on.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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

Rationality is the Way to Happiness

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Why rational decisions require a price reference

"Inquiring about prices is sinful," wrote scholar Hugh of St. Victor in the year 1130 C.E., "since it only serves to aid the vice of avarice." The medieval mind saw the world as immobile and human beings as passive spectators. Life was something that happened to you. Silent acceptance was regarded as a virtue.

A lesson well learned

Nine centuries have gone by. The universe has not changed, but we have erred and learned. In our age, looking up prices occupies a good part of our time. We cut off coupons from newspapers and compare discounts from car dealers. We listen to commercials on the radio and participate in auction sales.

Our activities have taken a new course, but to a certain extent, our thinking remains anchored in the Middle Ages. Reflect for a minute and count the people you know who actively pursue price information in their endeavours and act consistently on that knowledge.

How long is your list of those who look around and compare offers? What percentage of men and women carefully assess cost before making decisions? If you write down names, chances are that they will be few, since whole segments of the population prefer to ignore price information. Let me name just three examples.

  • First, children are foreign to cost considerations, since their priority is to have everything right now, irrespective of the price. Instilling sound economic judgement should be one of the objectives of a good education. Psychological growth demands perception of the bond between effort and reward.

  • Second, smokers must be also excluded from any list of cost-conscious individuals. How many of them are unaware of their increased health risks? Anyone who watches television or reads newspapers can hardly claim ignorance of the massive cost of cancer treatment.

  • Third, complainers spend their days deploring problems which, on closer examination, could have been easily avoided by looking at the market. Depressed prices or exaggerated valuations do not prompt rational men to lamentation, but to cautious action. 

Where wisdom begins

Acquiring consciousness of prices is part of becoming an adult. Irrationality makes people despondent, leading them to sell their property at reduced prices. Obsession deprives men of understanding, inducing them to pay too much for fashion. Price ignorance inevitably leads to stress and anxiety.

Fear cannot justify foolishness. Conformity cannot excuse willingness to delude ourselves or the world. Ignorance is unacceptable when knowledge is freely available. Wisdom begins with consciousness of our environment. For products, services, or convictions, there cannot be valid advice without reference to price.

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

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

The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The 145 best blogs about personal development

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

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The right way to deal with complexity and reduce stress

Energy is used most effectively when applied to a specific goal. Gasoline engines propel cars, but little is achieved by pouring fuel on the ground and setting it on fire. When coal stoves were still being used, most people preferred to heat one room in the house to a warm temperature rather than heat all rooms just a little bit.

The most advantageous choice

Nature demands neither concentration nor disaggregation of resources. Rivers that run in the same direction might merge their flows, but frequently, they don't. During a fire in the savannah, animals perfectly capable of running alone, join elephants in a stampede and get crushed every bone.

The capacity to determine goals and assess alternatives is uniquely human. Everyday, we make choices, hour by hour, selecting on each occasion the most advantageous option amongst the countless offered by life.

Fundamental decisions

In order to reduce complexity, we try to automatize as many decisions as possible. When we drive to work, we usually take the same road. When we go out for dinner with friends, we often go to the same restaurant.

Routine works fine to get repetitive tasks done, but it cannot be trusted for life's fundamental choices. A woman seldom falls in love with a man just because he happens to be her neighbour. Students rarely decide to study medicine just because their dorm lies next to a hospital.

Making the right choices and following them through leads to happiness, barring cases of extreme bad luck and catastrophes. Who knows what he wants from life, has no difficulty making decisions and will rarely suffer from excessive stress. If consequences prove disappointing, he will simply rectify his mistake and move on.

Dependable implementation

On the other hand, deciding on fundamental matters is hard for those who lack a clear vision of the future. Confronted with a multiplicity of paths, pilgrims always know what to ask, which is, for random walkers, an impossible task.

Unmade choices have devastating results. Anxiety and diffuse fear reign in the realm where all things are relative. Energy is consumed by doubt and half-hearted actions, wasted throughout. Without goals, there is no focus; without consistency, no resiliency to withstand even minor adversities.

Man needs stable convictions and non-contradictory personal objectives in order to live his days to the fullest. Otherwise, psychological disintegration will soon put an end to his every aspiration.

Sound design and dependable workmanship keep buildings in good shape for decades. Consistency of purpose provides the structure for a lifetime of happiness. Against tornadoes, wise men put up concrete walls; against indecision, long-term goals.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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

When everything fails, try this

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Protect yourself from the stress of negative daily news

Adults living in industrialized countries spend more than 300 hours per year watching news on television, listening to commentators on the radio, and reading newspapers. That time exceeds what they devote to reading books or acquiring knowledge in any other way.

A list of catastrophes

The greatest part of the information that is absorbed during those hours consists of catastrophes, disruptions, violence, poverty, divorce, vengeance, dishonesty, criminality, incompetence, hostility, complaints, abuse, and decay.

In view of the messages that fill the airwaves and newspapers, it is no wonder that many people suffer from anxiety or depression. If a man is convinced that the overall situation is deteriorating and that he is doomed, he won't be motivated to improve his life.

Should reporters be blamed for the negative bias given to daily news? Is it not true that those are the sort of reports that people want to read? If television news focus on negative events, are they not responding to their audience? If debates on talk radio are conducted in a harsh tone, it is not because this is what listeners want?

The media deliver negative news to those who are thirsty for them. Depressing television programmes confirm the views of those who believe that man cannot improve his lot. Bitter discussions on talk-radio reinforce the listeners' conviction that life consists primarily of conflict.

Protect your self-confidence

Dispiriting messages attain their targets with the precision of a laser. No discouraging word is wasted and no gloomy prediction remains ignored. The machine that destroys hope and inspiration works with outstanding efficiency. You need to take practical measures to preserve your self-confidence.

Those who love dire forecasts expect to find them in the media. Those who want to hear about poverty and dereliction want television stations to cover those subjects. Those who believe that the next crisis is going to destroy the world expect their favourite talk-radio host to share that view.

Nevertheless, despite the massive barrage of depressing messages, other individuals remain unaffected by anxiety and depression. Instead of seeking out alarming news, these persons read newspapers sparingly. Instead of watching calamities on television, they prefer to devote their energies to improving their own lives.

How did this minority arrive at their independent thinking? What is the key behind their psychological stability? How can we protect our serenity against the negative bias of daily news? The following ideas can help you preserve your peace of mind:

First, transform risks into numbers: Most reported threats refer to events that, most likely, will never happen. For instance, every few years, newspapers discuss anew the possibility of an asteroid hitting the earth and killing millions of people.

Such calamity would be terrible, but you should not allow vague menaces to disrupt your tranquillity. Instead of losing sleep over risks, you should transform them into numbers or percentages. What are the actual chances of an asteroid hitting the town where you live? If the result of the calculation is one in a million, how much are you willing to worry?

Reduce your worries

Second, set a limit on damages: Companies operating in consumer markets inevitably incur risks of civil liability. If you deliver products to millions of people, an accident will occur sooner or later, for example due to the failure of an electrical component.

No one is exempt from occasional mistakes and this is why liability insurance exists. Entrepreneurs who wish to limit their risks can purchase insurance coverage so that, if the worst happens, their financial losses will be limited.

Similarly, if you live in an area with a high risk of floods, you should insure yourself against damages caused by water. The rational approach to dealing with potential catastrophes is to reduce risks. By setting a limit to damages, you can protect your peace of mind against gloomy forecasts aired by the media.

When commentators predict a stock market crash, you can protect yourself by converting part of your investments to cash or by purchasing other assets, such as gold or real estate, whose performance is not correlated to the price of shares. In general, if you set a cap on potential losses, you will be able to stop worrying about catastrophes.

Third, face problems by taking action: Uncertainty, more than any other factor, is what causes anxiety and fear. The feeling of not knowing what to do can render you insecure and lead you to make mistakes. Indecision causes physical tiredness and disrupts sleep at night. The solution is not to ignore risks, but to face them by taking action.

If your neighbourhood is becoming increasingly dangerous, you can choose between taking action or worrying yourself to death. Assess the problem and see what alternatives you have. Should you install an alarm system at home? Does the situation justify that you move to another part of town?

As soon as you make a decision, your preoccupation levels will diminish. People who lead serene lives tend to be incredibly proactive and organized. Those persons are always the first to adopt measures to prevent problems.

Your peace of mind

Fourth, use only quality information: This is a key factor for maintaining your peace of mind. Why would you want to read gloomy articles in newspapers and magazines? What's the point of devoting your time to watching depressing reports on television?

Negative information is highly addictive and, without a strong will, the habit is difficult to break. You have to make a firm decision and stop paying attention to distorted news. You have to make the effort to filter out the noise and focus on quality information.

In most cases, you can keep yourself well informed by spending a few minutes a day on a few selected websites. If you make yourself deaf to nonsense and discouragement, you will have more time for pursuing your primary objectives.

Protect your peace of mind against negative news by transforming risks into numbers, setting limits to damages, facing problems with action, and using only quality information. Every minute of anxiety that you eliminate from your life will add positively to your well-being.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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

The Philosophy of Builders

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The key success principle in the search for happiness

Since nobody likes to hear negative answers, the word "no" has almost disappeared from polite conversations. Instead of rejecting requests straight away, people often make vague promises or simply reply that they don't know. Even when refusals are uttered, they are usually phrased as "possibly, but not at this moment."

Overcome immobility

At least, outright rejections can push you to correct your approach. In contrast, indefinite answers only lead to doubt and paralysis. When someone tells you that he is not interested at this moment, he is implying that he might change his mind in the future. Is he inviting you to try again next month? How much time should you devote to pursuing undefined opportunities?

There is hardly a bigger waste of time than waiting for future events that never come. Vague promises of attention, advice, jobs, funding, or friendship should not be taken seriously. You have to face the fact that, instead of substance, you are being served worthless hope. Do not expect much from such assurances. Instead, move on and search for better opportunities.

In those cases, you should not only write off the promise but also the person who made it. Speculating about the seriousness of empty words is unproductive. You will be much better off if you devote your energies to seeking alternative solutions. Take action and do not waste a minute. You will be able to achieve much more on your own.

The main purpose

The same principle applies to the main purpose of philosophy, that is, the search for happiness. Although many ideas, groups, and individuals promise well-being and prosperity, few deliver anything worthwhile. Excuses and apologies are the likely output of unrealistic assurances.

The story will play out in an all-too-predictable way. If you ask to receive your due, you will hear that the time is not ripe. You will be asked to be patient and wait a little longer. Your rational demands will be played down as immature. Your claims will be ignored and your plan of action, postponed.

In that context, you need to ask yourself how long you are willing to wait for happiness. Will you delay your dreams until all pieces of the puzzle fall into place? Are you ready to make further investments in projects that fail to generate profits? How many chances are you willing to give people who repeatedly let you down?

The ultimate folly

Although hope is universally presented as virtue, this should not always be the case. When hope is not based on facts and logic, it can destroy your life. Irrational expectations can make you waste your days waiting. Inconsistent wishes can pull your forces in opposite directions. Exaggerated expectations may submerge you into conflicts that cannot be resolved.

Amongst all false philosophies, the worst ones preach that you cannot be happy until the whole world changes. Putting your life on hold until the world becomes better is the ultimate folly. Unfortunately, millions of people fall passionately for this idea, which seems to feed on every sort of misery and pain.

In past centuries and nowadays, many individuals show willingness to spend their lives waiting for tidal changes. Such persons talk persuasively and paint pictures of a better world. They make speeches in favour of present sacrifice in exchange for indeterminate future compensation.

A life spent waiting will be devoured by emptiness and diluted by nothingness. Happiness cannot be attained through irrational hopes and exaggerated expectations. Problems rarely get solved on their own. Irrational hopes, instead of elevating your soul, will bury it in a deep black hole.

A workable approach

Difficulties can be turned into prosperity only if you make workable plans, take swift action, stabilize the situation, and pursue feasible improvements. Passive waiting never leads to happiness. Chance will seldom reduce inconveniences in your environment. Luck cannot be trusted to remove obstacles from your path.

Look at yourself in the mirror and ask how long you are willing to wait for happiness. The higher your self-confidence, the more determined you will be to advance your cause. Never trust promises that cannot be fulfilled. Instead of putting your plans on hold, redouble your efforts to attain your goals.

The faster you recognize unworkable theories, you better off you'll be. When people request you to wait indefinitely to receive your fair share, discard their assurances and search for alternatives. Life is too short to be wasted in pointless waiting. Do not let vain words interfere with your plans. Make sure that you pursue your objectives with relentless passion.

The short cut

If someone promises you a job at an indeterminate date, keep on searching for a suitable position. If people tell you to be patient, thank them politely for their advice and look for a short-cut to your goals. If your environment favours passivity, figure out how to motivate yourself to work harder in order to accomplish more.

Write down your answer to the question of how long you are willing to wait for happiness. Are you going to stop chasing your dreams until the world becomes a perfect place? Are you going to devote your best years to pointless discussions? Would you accept just to grow older without ever improving your situation?

To those who preach endless waiting, let your reply be short and determined. Shrug your shoulders and tell them the truth. Life is too short for trusting uncertain predictions. It is up to each individual to face problems courageously, stabilize his situation, and transform it into opportunity. Your willingness to wait for happiness should not go beyond what circumstances dictate as absolutely necessary.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Five great methods to increase your self-confidence

Prosperity and happiness seem to be directly proportional to self-confidence. Individuals with initiative and persistence tend to achieve more than others who, despite possessing larger resources, behave timidly and confusedly.

What doesn't work

Childhood experience plays an important role in building a strong personality, but nobody can do anything to change the past. If you wish to increase your level of self-reliance, you are going to have to use your creativity and take action in the present.

Methods that recommend repeating encouraging phrases to yourself seldom produce lasting effects. Monotonous messages, whether positive or negative, dull the mind. Such practices result in boredom, not in a dynamic personality. The systems that work are those that involve our mind and emotions at the same time.

The goal of increased self-assurance should not be pursued for the needs of the moment, but for permanent improvements in our lives. Changes in our fundamental psychological patterns have little worth if they cannot be stabilized and maintained.

A better future

A better future must entail a consolidation of any gains in self-reliance that we may be able to attain. A man cannot become self-confident just for a single day. An isolated incident that provokes major psychological changes contradicts human nature, although it may provide an interesting story for a film.

The main drivers of our personality are incredibly stable. Even minor changes require tremendous effort or sustained external pressure. The only methods that can effectively increase our self-confidence are those that, little by little, realign our thinking patterns according to consistent principles.

The five practices that, in my own experience, have proven to work well are the following: desensitization to danger, risk reduction, creative persistence, building on existing strengths, and working by numbers. Many people instinctively use some of these methods at one time or other. Results can be greatly enhanced by applying them in a conscious and regular manner.

Desensitisation to danger

First, desensitization to danger. Once you acknowledge that you live in fear of a specific threat, you must decide if you want to invest time to overcome paralysis and anxiety. The answer to this question is far from self-evident, since thousands of individuals accept timidity as a way of life. Becoming more assertive and adventurous is best achieved by taking small steps. Worry is vanquished by means realism, not by self-delusion.

A progressive loss of sensitivity to danger is the basis of learning to ride a bicycle. At the beginning, you move slowly and hesitatingly. With practice, your body begins to take control by realizing that the situation is much less dangerous than it feels. Desensitization through successive steps is the ideal method to increase self-confidence in situations that allow progressive exposure.

Risk-size reduction

Second, risk-size reduction. Although History shows the many advantages of stock market investments, millions of people are terrorized of the idea of placing their savings at risk. Purchasing shares of a corporation is viewed as a disproportionate exposure to chance.

Acquiring knowledge about economics can help you assess the benefits of investing in the stock market. However, it will seldom push to you take the decisive step to overcome your fears. In cases where the problem is to cross the line for the first time, risk reduction proves a more powerful tactic than accumulating theoretical knowledge.

The first-time investor should simply ignore his fears, open a brokerage account, and make a small purchase of some conservative securities. During the following weeks, he might tend to check the price of his stock ten times a day, but as time goes by, the neophyte investor will get comfortable with the level of risk and be willing to purchase shares of other corporations.

Long-term thinking

Third, thinking long term and persisting in your intent. Our self-reliance increases when our accomplishments place us on a higher plateau of performance and satisfaction. Creative persistence demands constant exertion of effort and economy of energy. Our purpose is not to repeat unsuccessful attempts, but to assess failure, introduce variations in our approach, and progressively improve the outcome and reward.

Intelligent perseverance allows us to maintain our overall goal but modify our strategy as needed. A wise man asks himself incessantly how he can do things faster, better, and less expensively. Keep your long-term objectives, but show flexibility in your means and time schedule. Your self-confidence will increase at the same speed as your attempts generate better results.

Build on existing strengths

Fourth, build on existing strengths. High achievers seldom possess a well-rounded personality. A person who is able to perform equally well on all areas is a rarity. An even character that is perfectly balanced in all facets should not be elevated to a psychological ideal.

Due to varying background and talents, individuals tend to excel on a few aspects, perform acceptably on many others, and prove deficient in some. If you wish to become more self-reliant, you should concentrate on developing your strengths instead of worrying about your weaknesses.

Work by numbers

Fifth, working by numbers. People who have low regard for themselves often expect too much. A man who demands to succeed in every endeavour should be viewed, with good reason, as wildly unrealistic. Such hard-headed attitudes produce high performance anxiety.

Facts and numbers provide us with the necessary perspective to deal with failure. A candidate who is rejected at a job interview might become needlessly enraged or depressed if he contemplates the event as a major injustice that has the potential to damage his career permanently.

In contrast, individuals searching for employment who are aware of the statistical odds against them tend to be more relaxed and resilient. If you acquire a realistic view of the amount of effort that you have to exert in order to find a good job, your temporary lack of success will not diminish your self-reliance.

Increased serenity and effectiveness

During an economic downturn, there can be easily two dozen applicants for each worthy vacant position. Working by numbers means realizing that you might need two dozen interviews in order to get a desirable job. Internalizing that knowledge is bound to increase your serenity and render you more effective.

Attaining stability on a higher level of personal effectiveness is the common purpose of the above systems to increase self-reliance. Take some time to decide which method you are going to use, make a decision, and carry out your plan. After you have followed the selected strategy for a few weeks, you will acquire better patterns of thought and become more self-reliant.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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

Monday, 8 June 2015

The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day

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, 7 June 2015

Staying out of trouble is a most underestimated skill

Learning karate has many advantages. The exercises build your muscles and improve your general health. The practice makes your body fit and your movements precise. Those benefits are indisputable and martial arts schools seldom forget to mention them in their advertisements.

A popular misconception

However, if you ask experienced judo practitioners about the reason behind their enthusiasm for the sport, you will get a completely different answer. "The best thing about martial arts," they will tell you, "is that you learn to defend yourself in case of an attack."

Nothing could be further from the truth. People with no karate training are often better skilled at detecting trouble before it appears on the scene. Since they know that they are not trained for combat, they avoid physical confrontation. When they experience threats, they retreat. When they see danger, they keep away from it.

A false sense of security

On the other hand, how often have you heard stories about some karate expert shot by a criminal in the street for refusing to surrender his wallet? In most cases, if the victim had tried to run away, he might have easily escaped. Realizing that few things are as lethal as a false sense of security has tremendous implications.

A strong belief in nonsense leads men to disregard the evidence of their own perceptions. When that happens, thinking becomes pointless, since it is no longer based on reality. Ignoring our own pain or physical discomfort is a recipe for disaster. When sensations contradict conclusions, it is high time to re-examine the latter.

Relying on something that is not true is worse that confessing ignorance. Make-believe prevents individuals from acknowledging problems and looking for the right answer. Self-inflicted blindness destroys man's sense of direction and invalidates his ambitions.

Do not rely on false narratives

Keeping your eyes open is the most effective method to avoid getting into deep trouble in life. When meeting new people, trusting what you see is the only way to form an accurate opinion about their qualities and ethical standards. Judging strangers by what they say or by their appearance is a losing proposition.

The most egregious errors are not committed out of ignorance, but by relying on false stories that we tell to ourselves. Accidents that tear apart families and companies could have been frequently prevented by reading the writing on the wall.

Being brave enough to acknowledge a gap between belief and fact is the foundation of personal integrity. There can be no honesty without courage, no serenity without consistency. Entrepreneurs trust their own perceptions and experience more than anything else. A man's ability to detect opportunities equals his willingness to focus on reality.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

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

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The keys to extraordinary psychological resilience

After suffering damage, your most urgent goal should be to stabilize your situation. If you lose your job, you don't want to lose your house too. If you catch the flu, you don't want it to turn into pneumonia. If you get a flat tyre while driving, you don't want to lose control of your car and crash against a wall.

Your primary concern

Should you fall into a well, your immediate objective is not to drown. You know that you must attain this goal at all costs; other concerns become secondary or irrelevant. Your energies and senses align to ensure your survival. Your physical and mental resources concentrate on a single task to guarantee its accomplishment.

This must-do attitude that makes you unstoppable is precisely what you need to cultivate your critical assets. Self-reliance, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness are the cardinal skills that will help you in times of adversity. None of them can be artificially implanted into your personality.

Progressive steps

You cannot improvise psychological resilience more than you can cook perfect crème glacée if you have never set foot in the kitchen. You cannot magically learn to view problems in perspective more than you can drive a car if you've never sat before behind the wheel. When you are facing a major threat, you will only be able to react quickly if you are already used to taking initiative.

Enhancing your self-reliance, thoughtfulness, and decisiveness is a long-term process. Those immaterial assets are worth more than physical wealth. If you possess them, prosperity will be within reach; if you don't, chances are that you will waste whatever wealth you may already have.


Do not be satisfied with trying out just one method to attain your goal. Reading good material may increase your self-confidence, but so will taking risks, travelling overseas, public speaking, team work, sports, joining a social club, dancing, taking cooking classes, and many other activities.

What about acquiring thoughtfulness? Meditation and self-knowledge may be of help in this respect, but so will be lectures, work experience, learning how to write effectively, staying abreast of the latest news, and discussing with intelligent people.


The same principle applies to decisiveness. Your willingness to take continuous action can be cultivated not just by making to-do lists, but also by identifying your priorities, cutting losses, spreading your risks, having a back-up plan, and developing a support network before you need it.

When disaster hits, those three qualities may prove invaluable to you. They will help you identify which actions are critical, stabilize a bad situation, and build a sound basis for improvement. Commit yourself to developing those qualities until they become second nature to you. 

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

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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