Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Three reasons to look at 2016 with great optimism

At the time of this writing, newspaper headlines are all tremendously negative. However, if you look beyond the obvious, you will be able to see the seeds of the accelerated economic growth that will take place in the next years.

Indeed, in some areas of the world, the economy is stagnating, inflation is rising and unemployment remains high. As a result, millions of people are seeing their lives disrupted. Those who have recently lost their jobs may have the feeling that finding a new position is going to take extensive efforts and a very long time.
 

Refuse to be intimidated

Some companies listed in the stock market are showing daily fluctuations over 3%, an enormous range by historical standards. Some investors have liquidated their holdings in despair and incurred a substantial loss. The current levels of market volatility are testing the faith of the most devoted believers in a better economic future.

The psychological pressures that accompany these events are considerable. The gloom-and-doom atmosphere that dominates conversations inevitably influences people's decisions. Purchases are delayed and changes are feared. When the future looks dark, hesitation seems safer than action.

Nevertheless, despite all these threats and uncertainties, I remain massively optimistic about the future of the world economy. I am convinced that growth will soon resume strongly and take us to higher levels of prosperity. On which facts do I base my optimistic conviction? Are my positive expectations justified by statistical trends?

The positive trend

Yes, in fact there are lots of positive economic data out there if you care to look for them, and not only in China, India and Singapore. Freight volumes are growi ng and the same can be said of the number of new vehicles sold. More car sales means more steel production and more jobs. For every negative newspaper headline, you can find plenty of data that predict an upwards trend.

Even so, my purpose today is not to engage a statistical discussion. Facts can be measured, but opportunities need to be discovered. Improvements are what you get when you apply creativity to problems.

For predicting the future, structural factors are more reliable than isolated details. If you know a man's character, you will be able to foretell his destiny with greater accuracy than if you know everything he did during the last two days.

Human creativity, or rather, the increased opportunity to exercise it, provides us a solid ground for forecasting a bright economic future. Like a man's character, the level of personal initiative and inventiveness in the world changes only slowly, but one it gets as good as it is now, chanc es are that it will stay this way for many years. My overall optimism for the upcoming year is based on the following factors, that you will find no difficulty in observing yourself:
 

Growing opportunities

Emigration has become easier than at any previous time in history: Millions of people are moving every year from one place to another to take advantage of the expanded opportunities to exercise their talents.

Sometimes, emigration takes place within the same country (between two cities), but very often, it involves crossing the border between countries. As travel costs continue to decrease and regulations become more flexible, companies benefit from the influx of new talent and workers can find jobs that offer improved economic prospects. In addition to the economic advantage, the contact with other cultures also tends to make people more tolerant and open.

Direct access

 
Artists can now offer their creations directly to millions of consumers. The tide has turned for creative individuals. If you are a musician, you can now develop your career without having to wait for a record company to give you a break. The same goes for writers, painters, illustrators, composers, and photographers.

Even new film-makers can now make their films at a fraction of what it used to cost a few years ago. With the help of low-cost digital cameras, free editing software, and internet distribution, many wonderful films are getting made nowadays, films that would have never seen the daylight in previous decades.

Widespread affordability

The cost of starting a new business has never been so low. In some cases, all you need is an innovative idea and the determination to build something from scratch. We live in a world where vision and commitment are more important that the size of your bank account. Money and other resources can always be borrowed if you know how to apply them productively.

The endless possibilities offered by the internet have unleashed human creativity to levels unknown before. You no longer need to relocate in order to have your products designed, manufactured, and sold in other countries. Video-conferences with clients and suppliers all over the world have become virtually free-of-charge. The cost of market intelligence has also been drastically reduced.

What is even better, the time-line for starting a new business has been compressed and shifted. Low-cost software applications will routinely spare new entrepreneurs hundreds of hours of work, and the work that still needs to be done, they can do it during the evenings and weekends.


A call for creativity

Never before in history have millions of people enjoyed the opportunity of starting their own business while they can still keep their day job. A lower risk for starting new companies means that more companies will be started, making overall economic growth almost inevitable.

For the three reasons above, I believe that the world economy will continue to grow strongly in this decade. Of course, the situation will not be equally positive in all countries and in all currencies, but so what? Creativity will always flow to places where opportunities exist and this is the way it should be. 


Stop listening to negative reports and learn to look beyond the headlines. Things will continue to get better overall as entrepreneurs continue to seize in 2016 the immense economic possibilities of our time. Have yourself a great Christmas, and a wonderful year 2016.

Image: Photograph taken by John Vespasian, 2015.
For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books

Friday, 18 December 2015

Start enjoying the advantages of consistency

Ideas are precious and constitute the basis of civilization. Without the concepts of free trade, freedom of speech, and human rights, our standard of living would rapidly fall to medieval levels. Personal goals shape a sustained vision that transforms our talents into valuable products of services.

The crucial element

Closed doors reflect fear of change. Rational objectives will take you forward, but it is essential that those are compatible. Inconsistent principles rob each other's force and deplete each other's resources. Keep you door open to new concepts and ideas, but make sure that those are logically integrated.

When you discover that some of your goals are wrong, you should discard them. On the other hand, if your ambitions are annoying but consistent, keep them, since they might lead you to a breakthrough improvement.

Integrated goals will take you places, but inconsistent ambitions will wear you down. Pursuing compatible goals increases personal effectiveness and enhances creativity. Consistent ideals also improve man's reasoning capacity. Modern life requires instantaneous choices. Individuals who possess well-integrated goals can deal with complexity in the most effective manner.

Spectacular results
 
Rational men ensure the consistency of their actions by defining clear objectives for the remaining decades of their life. Effective living requires that our choices, minor or fundamental, are aligned with our overriding goals. Individuals who follow this principle tend to become an outstanding success.

People who lack consistent goals often sabotage their own efforts. Pursuing integrated objectives requires sustained focus and can bring spectacularly positive results. Few persons establish a definite direction for their life, but those who do, can reap enormous benefits. Motivational consistency brings, amongst others, the following advantages:
  1. Waste reduction: Financial resources can be used with a minimum of waste by avoiding random decisions and useless purchases
  2. Accelerated learning: A clear vision of the future feeds the motivation to develop specialized skills and accumulate intellectual capital.
  3. Credibility: Consistent objectives build perseverance and credibility. On the other hand, random behaviour tends to damage a man's reputation and destroy his assets.
  4. Worthy entertainment: Rational goals lead men to the type of entertainment that reinforces values and involves aspects of learning.
  5. Extra energies: Compatible, long-term objectives provide the energy needed to undertake ambitious projects that make a difference in one's living conditions.
  6. Resilience: Logic and ambition supply the resilience needed to undertake boring maintenance tasks that bring substantial long-term benefits.
  7. Prudence: A stable vision and a lifetime perspective lead man to avert excessive risks, lotteries and other forms of gambling.
  8. Innovation: Consistent objectives render man's mind active and willing to explore innovative options. In contrast, contradictory goals lead to mistakes, waste, and paralysis.
  9. Tolerance: Long-term ambitions enable man to accept mistakes as part of a learning process. The opposite phenomenon, intolerance, frequently arises out of pursuing contradictory targets. Individuals torn apart by diverging goals find difficult to explain their own actions.
  10. Empathy: Convictions in line with reality allow man to connect deeply with other human beings. Irrational objectives prevent individuals from communicating clearly, leading to irritation, confusion, misunderstandings, and errors.
A reliable tool

Human beings can guide their lives properly only by reason. Dogs and cats perceive a narrow part of reality, but man is aware of hundreds of interconnected details, past and present, that are relevant in each situation. Our mind calls for logic and consistency. Happiness becomes possible only if we remain loyal to our rational nature.

Leading an effective life requires individuals to select rational objectives that comprise their whole lifetime. A consistent vision that reaches into the next decades is the most reliable tool for making optimal choices in the present.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image: Photograph taken by John Vespasian, 2015.


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

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Always place your common sense above all statistics

If you are planning to consult statistics before making a major decision, you'd better check your sources twice. Many proclaimed truths are solely based on opinion. Countless times, surveys do little more than elevate preferences to models of conduct that are to be followed out of convenience or for personal gain. 

Every morning, we should remind ourselves that serious errors have been committed in the past by placing blind trust in numbers produced by interested parties.

Your best protection

There is no future in repeating the faults of History. Our best protection against misguided statistics is not searching for alternative data, but using our common sense to interpret the conclusions presented to us. 

We should check if the recommendations match our experience and knowledge of the world. We should assess the consequences of the outcome of such surveys, ask ourselves uncomfortable questions, and take the necessary time to think things through.

When it comes to determining the direction of your life, never trust other people's calculations without subjecting them to rational examination. No matter what results from a survey, its conclusions can never be as reliable as your own perception of the world. No matter how sophisticated a mathematical model may be, it will never match the accuracy of your direct inspection of the facts. 


The following list presents six sensitive areas where you should be particularly attentive to check the logic of any recommendation that is presented to you.

Check the details twice

First, in general, you should not expect someone else to solve your problems. Statistics proving otherwise should be subject to close scrutiny, since they seem to contradict a fundamental aspect of human nature. We all love to help family and friends, but should we believe any survey that promises uncertain help from indeterminate strangers? Check the details twice before you act on such conclusions.

Second, human beings become most effective when they concentrate on work they love, or at least, on work that matches their best talents. Do not decide on your career solely on the basis of statistics. 

A survey might show you, for instance, what are the average salaries in different professions, but remember that, within each field, there are large differences of income due to individual expertise, ambition, and dedication. Take career statistics with a grain of salt and rather use your common sense to identify which professional path is suitable for you.

Realistic expectations


Third, in the same line of thought, try to acquire the mental fortitude to discard preposterous expectations. Never trust studies that provide evidence that you can make a quick fortune by entering a business field where you don't posses any knowledge or experience. 

That kind of statistics, even if based on real data, frequently portrays a window of opportunity that has already closed by the time you hear about it. Be prudent and don't go blindly for things that look too good to be true.

Fourth, statistics that prompt you to waste your resources or risk your health should be regarded with utmost scepticism. If someone proves to you with numbers that work and play are equally productive, you should not believe it. 


If a survey tells you that it doesn't matter whether you take care of your health or not, you should stick to your salutary habits and rational good choices. Such surveys make the headlines precisely because they are controversial and contradict basic common sense. The data might be true if applied to particular circumstances, but the conclusions make little sense as general advice.

A call for caution

Fifth, surveys that predict awful consequences from seemingly harmless activities should be assessed with caution. For instance, a study showing that people holding a certain type of job die young might reflect the statistical truth. 

Nevertheless, if you read its conclusions in full, you will realize that many individuals in that profession live substantially longer than the average. Ask yourself what are the factors that make those men and women reach an advanced age and seek to draw lessons that you can apply to your life.

Sixth, trial and error are part of the natural learning process in any field of activity. For this reason, you should question the scientific value of any survey that enthrones a specific method of doing things. 


A sensible approach

Are the conclusions based on local circumstances or do they have general application? Has the study been conducted with impartiality or do you have reasons to suspect the existence of conflict of interests? Whenever you face a recommendation to narrow your field of inquiry, compare the statistics to what you know from experience, and see if the conclusion makes sense.

The purpose of surveys is to extract lessons from reality, but without method and logic, data cannot teach us anything of value. Place your common sense above all statistics and your reason above all calculations. 

Trust your immediate perception more than a hundred volumes of allegedly scientific conclusions, since in life, you will have to pay for your own mistakes. Always check twice what seems to be lie beyond doubt and question what appears self-evident. Let your own independent judgement guide your life according to reason and reality.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by Martin Pettitt 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

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The untold psychological benefits of frugality

A man should strive to discard waste as matter of principle, but after making a dreadful mistake and suffering major losses, he should avoid comparing himself with someone else. It makes little sense to lament how well you could be doing if you had made wiser choices. The only thing you can do is to learn from the situation so that you can perform better next time.

Each human being is born in different circumstances, each life is unique. Individuals grow at their own pace and learn their own lessons. Errors and waste provide us with painful but irreplaceable experience.

A highly beneficial habit


Stand up and look ahead. Your next achievement will bring you farther. Mistakes will make you a better human being and show you the way to happiness if you acquire rational habits. When it comes to avoiding waste, no other habit is as powerful as frugality.

Suffering a major loss has few benefits other than rekindling personal ambition and making people realistic about how the world works. Whatever your level of income, frugality constitutes a highly beneficial habit. Even if contemporary society rarely promotes temperance and thrift, the truth is that individual prosperity is the consequence of savings and investment.


Peace of mind


Nothing escapes its reach, no one can circumvent its application. What you do today determines the level of tomorrow's pay. In addition to economic advantages, frugality also brings psychological benefits. Stress, anxiety, discouragement, and fear will not haunt the house of the austere.

Discarding waste and embracing frugality lead to peace of mind. Worries won't keep awake at night those who live with measure. Leading a rational life spares man the effort of following the latest fashion. When we dismiss artificial alternatives, we are left with the fundamental. Serenity is the result of simplification.


Decisiveness


Choosing frugality instead of waste will allow you to make fast and consistent decisions. When you trust your own judgement more than external opinion, you learn from mistakes and develop your skills. Frugality, which is based on stable values, leads to decisiveness. A man who possesses clear priorities can reject inconsistency without need of long discussions.

A prudent conduct brings the added benefit of risk reduction. A judicious man protects himself when at risk and tries to avert threats whenever possible. The tension of complex choices can wear out even the most balanced mind. On the other hand, a straightforward and consistent approach reduces errors of oversight. Shunning unnecessary cost keeps risk exposure low.

Ignore the noise


Ignoring the noise of false opinions liberates resources. Frugality enables man to breathe free of encumbrances and focus his efforts on what really counts. Happiness is not the result of accumulating tasks, but of a few essential activities that make a difference.

Discarding waste brings man wealth, but the material advantages of frugality go hand in hand with its psychological benefits. Disregard the unnecessary and pay attention to the crucial elements of a good life. Realizing that most things possess little relevance in the short term is what enables man to look ahead and make wise choices.


Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com
Image: photograph taken by John Vespasian, 2014.

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

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Disasters often contain the seed of great opportunities

Why are restraining beliefs so ingrained in society? What makes human beings support fantasies in word and deed? How is it possible that some people devote their energies to pretending that paralysis is an acceptable approach to living?

Exaggerated fears

Why would anyone devote efforts to convince himself that he cannot improve his own situation? Although many individuals are conscious of the disadvantages of psychological immobility, such paralysis is frequently endorsed. Millions of men and women fall prey to self-imposed restrictions that they could remove if they wished.

Three reasons explain why human beings are often deeply invested in immobility. Social convenience is the first, since it feels good to belong to the majority. Financial benefit is the second, since many doors are closed to those who ask uncomfortable questions. The third motive, fear of rejection, is perhaps the strongest.
Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, experience proves that, in the long run, doubt and psychological paralysis will destroy a man's life.

Social convenience can lead people to repress their best initiatives. The habit of seeking conformity deprives men of the force to pursue their dreams and stake their claims. However, the financial benefits of immobility, although sweet, tend to be short-lived.

In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection tend to be exaggerated by the media. Nowadays, global markets allow innovators to find their customers anywhere in the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by friends and neighbours.


Think for yourself


The golden advantages of social convenience always seem, at first sight, the obvious choice, but conformity and passivity make man's happiness impossible. Becoming aware of long-term consequences of immobility and taking rational initiative mark the path to success.

Inaction and conformity have so many advantages that, for some people, they become the choice by default. Few are told that those short-term benefits are dwarfed by their lifetime costs. Seldom is the fact mentioned that long-term passivity wipes out man's capacity for attaining success and happiness.

Psychological immobility arises when people are overwhelmed by problems, threats, or obstacles that look insurmountable. Logic and evidence provide the means to dispute and eliminate from our mind the fallacies that feed mental passivity. Rationality is what allows a person to make reasonable calculations and take action to improve his life.

For instance, if you want to avoid psychological exhaustion, you should never take it personally when people do stupid things. Never allow yourself to be paralysed by the fact that other persons have made a large mistake.

The temptation of passivity


Get back on your feet and avoid the temptation of passivity, since it produces nothing and leads to nothing. Motivational paralysis only serves to waste your life.

Make a point also to ignore gloomy predictions from the media, friends, or family. Most depressing statements are not true anyway and the world is not coming to an end. Do not join people wallowing in their misery. Never fall into immobility out of fear of things that, most likely, will never happen. Asses your alternatives, pick up the best, and begin to move in the right direction.

What looks today as universal malignancy often turns to be just another benign local problem that is quickly forgotten. What today seems a serious challenge has often little long-term significance. For those who refuse to be paralysed, catastrophes frequently contain the seed of great opportunities.

When people embrace passivity, that's the best time to take swift action. A crisis, personal or otherwise, should be faced through relentless initiative, not with immobility. Nobody but you can decide when a game is over.

Psychological paralysis is the worst enemy of achievement and happiness. Immobility is always a losing proposition. What you learn on bad days builds your creativity and strength of character. For those who remain alert and active, opportunities are created every minute.


Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by espinr 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