Saturday, 24 December 2016
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Wind erodes mountains into hills. Water excavates rocks into caverns. Stimuli of all kind affect our state of mind, sometimes positively, frequently to make it worse. Even if you lived in a desert island, you would not be immune to this phenomenon, since floods or drought might shift your focus all the same.
Do not let your motivation wane
The results of such influences can last minutes or weeks. Sustaining your motivation is crucial when you are involved in long-term projects, such as obtaining a college degree or starting up a business. How can you prevent that negative events consume your energies and ruin your temper?
Most popular recommendations in this respect do not work. For instance, repeating encouraging messages to yourself will seldom eradicate deep-rooted feelings of anxiety. Beliefs in supernatural forces might soothe fear for a while, but sooner or later, reality will return harder than ever. Telling yourself that everything is for the better, when it is not, is demeaning and psychologically destructive.
The best approach
Rational living is the best approach to ensure that you start each day in a good mood. When used consistently, it leads to serenity, enhances productivity, and reinforces personal effectiveness. What you need to stay optimistic is not fantasy, but objectivity. If you maintain a balanced view of the world, pessimism cannot take over your feelings.
My suggestion is simple and it is based on the observation that all of us tend to exaggerate problems. Our closeness to current unpleasant events, such as failure or rejection, deprives us of perspective. What you need to do is to write down a list of your assets and place it where you can see it every morning.
Make a thorough inventory of everything you have in your favour. Do not overlook any of your qualities and possessions, since other people may lack those. If you have an excellent health, you might be taking that for granted, but don't forget that, in any country, a percentage of the population suffers from serious disease.
The factors playing in your favour
Add up your skills, what you own and whom you know, your half-done projects and your latest initiatives. The point is not to make you look good in the face of other people's misery, but to remind you of the extent of your resources. As counterpoint to the latest annoyance, we can all use a fresh view of our own capabilities.
Neither problems should be magnified beyond reason nor opportunities forgotten. Whatever challenges you are facing, it is good to keep in mind all factors that play in your favour. Devote some time during the Christmas season to making the list of your personal assets, and let it shed a reassuring light on your plans for 2017. With time and perspective, most of today's adversities might be remembered, if at all, as minor inconveniences.
My very best wishes for Christmas to all readers.
May the New Year bring you closer to your goals.
[Image by Athena's Pix 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, 12 December 2016
Aristotle was a great philosopher, but entrepreneurship was one thing that he never managed to understand. In the Nicomachean Ethics, his essay on justice and morality, he views society as a market where human desires are stable, where the demand for each product is constant, and each purchase has a predictable price.
One does not need to look at the world for long to rate Aristotle's view as highly unrealistic. The truth is that, in the field of work and commerce, prices vary incessantly. New products appear daily on the market. Growing ventures create jobs, while old-fashioned industries are reducing the number of their employees. Trading conditions change, markets move, and money circulates.
Businessmen are conscious of the fact that initiative leads to success. Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of innovation. Economic growth begins with one person making the first move and showing the way. In order to surpass average results, a man has to step out of the routine.
In the world of business, clients and profits are the result of entrepreneurship. A company that has profitable sales can always borrow money. Bankers seldom refuse a loan to businesses that generate positive cash-flow. Personal initiative fuels innovation and drives companies to higher levels of performance.
The situation is not much different in the area of relationships. Friendship and love grow stale without personal initiative. Developing a happy social life requires a certain type of entrepreneurship. This is a factor that cannot be replaced by any amount of wishful thinking.
The entrepreneurial factor
Unfortunately, the entrepreneurial factor in love and happiness is frequently underrated or denied. Television repeatedly shows stories where success happens by chance. Films love to portray heroes who attain happiness by coincidence without any effort from their side. Those tales are mostly made-up and a wise man should never take them as a fair representation of reality.
Entrepreneurial activity involves shifting resources through time and space. A businessman might, for instance, borrow money at 6% interest in order to invest it for a 10% return. If he does that several times with growing sums of money, chances are that he will become very wealthy.
The example can be applied to the field of relationships. If you wish to enjoy a great social life in the future, you should make the effort to establish new contacts regularly. Even if you just meet one new person per week, sooner or later, you will get to know a few individuals who share your values.
Friendships and love relations can begin in the most unusual circumstances. The key requirement is that individuals should be open to an initial contact. Brief introductions may lead to further interactions that develop into long-term relationships. This is why entrepreneurs are always alert to unexpected opportunities and love to meet new people. You will observe the same attitude in those who enjoy happy social lives.
Entrepreneurial minds can be spotted by their extreme impatience at school or during their apprenticeship. They dislike slow motion and are driven towards activities that produce tangible results. They want to lead a life of growing improvement and continuous progress. They view speed as a synonym of efficiency.
Let me encourage you to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude in the area of personal relationships. Everybody has constrains in terms of time and resources, but those limitations should not prevent you from seeking out opportunities to meet new people whom you might find interesting.
Conferences that revolve around your favourite subjects constitute great places for meeting like-minded individuals. In the majority of cases, those initial contacts will not lead to friendship or love and that is precisely the way it should be.
Entrepreneurs are only interested in opportunities that are right for them. They know that, before they can embrace one successful idea, they will have to discard many others that lead nowhere. Possibilities are infinite, but resources are always limited.
Applying entrepreneurial principles to the field of personal relationships entails accepting that choices have to be made. The following ideas might help you improve your effectiveness in developing new social contacts, either for friendship or love:
The world is asymmetric
The notes in the agendas of entrepreneurs are often disorganized. Possibilities for personal growth and social development seldom present themselves in a predictable manner. Meeting new people can be a messy, uncomfortable process.
When personal contacts go beyond a brief introduction, we often realize that our first impression of someone was wrong. Language and cultural differences can be misleading. The world is not arranged according to geometric patterns. Social opportunities fluctuate and can be highly asymmetric. The best you can do is to view the world as a playing ground for your individual initiative.
Entrepreneurs realize that new possibilities are continuously being created. As time goes by, windows of opportunity appear and disappear. The same phenomenon takes place in the field of personal relationships. Environments change. Tastes evolve. People come and go.
There is not just one unique place where you can meet potential friends or a soul mate. There is not just one day of the week when you can make new acquaintances. Targets move as you breathe. A person that you meet by chance might be exactly the sort of friend you need at this moment, or not at all. The more people you meet, the higher your chances of finding like-minded individuals.
When a businessman decides to enter a new market, his resolution affects his attitude towards that field. If you are considering purchasing a car of a specific type, you will tend to focus your attention on those vehicles when you are driving on the highway.
The proportion of those cars in the street traffic would be the same as last week, but due to your change of perspective, you are now more aware of their presence. The same goes for opportunities of personal growth and social development.
If you adopt an entrepreneurial attitude towards friendship and love, you will be able to detect hidden possibilities in otherwise boring meetings. As you become more used to taking initiative, your results and self-confidence will improve, if only because you will discard quickly those relationships that don't work.
The ability to develop great relationships can be cultivated like any other. Taking initiative, seeking opportunities, and learning from mistakes lead to continuous improvement. At some point, when an entrepreneurial attitude towards relationships becomes your second-nature, you will have acquired a fundamental skill to further your personal happiness.
[Image by katsrcool 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, 5 December 2016
A little philosophy can carry you a long way: About the importance of adopting a rational perspectice
A wrong perspective can block more of your initiatives than any external obstacle. If your vision is short-sighted, you will not perceive anything beyond the immediate. If your vision is blurred, you will get lost in speculative discussions. If you look too far away into the future, you will lose touch with your environment.
At the turn of the 10th century, thousands of peasants in Europe believed that the world was coming to an end. Their incentive to work diminished sharply and, as a result, agricultural output decreased. High food prices led to the fulfilment of their prophecy, since many families starved during the winter that inaugurated the second millennium of our era. A wrong perspective annihilated part of the population.
Drug addicts and compulsive gamblers embody an extreme type of short-term mentality. Their world is restricted to what will happen in the next hours or minutes. Their minds do not register the physical and financial consequences of their actions. Their numbed sensitivity ignores danger signals. Their grasp of reality has shrunk to the minimum. Warnings cannot reach their ears.
Are the above examples valid? Do you consider self-evident that man needs a proper perspective of life? If everybody agrees with this conclusion, is the whole discussion pointless? Frankly, I don't think so.
Lack of perspective
If you really believe that the issue is settled, you might be making a fundamental mistake. The truth is that, every year, millions of individuals destroy their lives by embracing losing propositions.
People quit hard-earned positions and abandon established professions in pursuit of unworkable projects. Sometimes, individuals risk their health or physical survival by getting involved in losing ventures. Occasionally, such delusions affect a large segment of the population.
These tragedies happen so often that we have grown desensitized to them. This phenomenon is so apparent that we have lost the capacity to see it. Lack of perspective wrecks innumerable human lives. The seriousness of the problem is deeper than we are willing to admit; its size, bigger than statistics can register.
Discard what doesn't work
Leading a prosperous and happy life requires that we discard ideas that don't work. Trying to accomplish the unworkable serves to fuel vanity, not well-being. Nobody will be helped if you attempt to accelerate change beyond what the environment can take. In contrast, many people will complain if you try to impose what nobody else wants.
The advent of the internet and low-cost mobile communications show the scope of change that we can expect to see within a generation. Repetitive tasks can now be carried out in a faster and cheaper manner. Some business sectors have been favourably affected; others have become obsolete. In addition, the web has extraordinarily facilitated the spread of knowledge.
A wise man establishes his goals according to reason. High ambitions are commendable, but grandiosity should be avoided. Persistence is necessary, but it should not turn into obsession. Attempts at improving the world will remain fruitless if they are not accompanied by a sound dose of realism.
Choose your goals wisely
What are the consequences of this principle? How can we prevent our goals from becoming destructive? How can we avoid devoting efforts to seemingly important causes that later turn out to be worthless? Here are some practical ideas that you can use:
Quantify the time: Goals that lack a temporal frame have less chances of success. Saying that you want to become a writer is meaningless if you do not come up with a plan. How many years are you going to devote to writing? How many books do you intend to produce? On which subjects? How long will you need to complete your first manuscript?
Define the space: Objectives that are not circumscribed to a specific territory tend to be less attainable. Saying that you want to end hunger in the world denotes a good heart, but lacks a detailed plan. If you want to do development work to help poor people, are you going to focus on Latin America or Africa? On which part of Africa? English- or French-speaking? What specific project do you want to implement?
Assess the resources: For instance, if your goal is to make a living trading the financial markets, you should make a list of the necessary steps and how much each one is going to cost you. How long a training will you need? What is the price of the courses? Are you willing to work as an apprentice in order to learn the business? How much capital do you need to make a living trading stocks or commodities?
A workable plan
The world is going to change during your lifetime, but you should not entrust your future to random events. When you make plans, adopt a prudent perspective. Quantify the time, define the space, and assess the resources.
Leave vanity to the foolish and focus on what you intend to accomplish. A workable plan is worth a million discussions. If you wish to waste your life, devote yourself to debating what people will be eating two centuries from now and what type of cars they will be driving. On the other hand, if you want to attain a specific goal, walk fast but keep your steps small. A little philosophy can carry you a long way by helping you adopt the right perspective.
[Image by seier+seier 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