Saturday, 31 August 2013

How to stay rational in a chaotic world. Stress management under difficult circumstances. Overcoming anxiety and excessive concern

  • How to stay rational in a chaotic world
  • Maintaining your psychological strength despite problems and obstacles
  • Techniques to stop worrying even when you have a thousand problems
  • How to get self-confidence when living in a hostile environment
  • Overcoming barriers to personal growth, internal and external
  • How to deal with difficult people in your business and personal life
  • Stress management under difficult circumstances
  • How to build your self-esteem in times of adversity
  • Overcoming anxiety and excessive concern
  • The low-cost approach to self-development
A free presentation of my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living:

How to prevent detrimental actions and mistakes. The need for consistent principles and goals. The rational approach to preventing stress and anxiety

Packaged foods are conditioned to suit the taste of the consumer, which varies from country to country. Bread is baked differently in cities that are just a hundred kilometres away. Our culture feeds on sugar contained in cakes, cookies, ice cream, and alcoholic drinks.

How to prevent detrimental actions and mistakes

Opponents of the Western diet will warn you that sugar is going to kill you. Actually, not only sugar, but also alcohol, red meat, white flour, and other elements of the modern fare. Contemporary medical studies have proven those admonishments true to a good extent, but they also acknowledge that death will very rarely be the penalty for eating a beef hamburger.

The reasonable conclusion is that some foods create certain health risks; you should be aware of them and select your meals accordingly. Nowadays, few people contend the principle that bad food is detrimental to your vitality.

If you don't make a minimum effort to gather correct dietary information, you will make random choices. If you eat appallingly, you will suffer the consequences. In terms of food, science has established that sweetness is not always conductive to wellness.

The need for consistent principles and goals

Can we remove counter-productive actions also from other areas of our life? How much of what we believe about the world holds true upon detailed examination? Are our convictions solidly based on facts? What about our ethical values and fundamental goals? Do we resort to prejudice in order to hide irrational fears? Do we appeal to tradition in order to safeguard inefficiency?

It takes a strong will and massive efforts to modify the way we eat. On many occasions, men and women undertake such changes only as a last resort, for instance, after having suffered a heart attack or being diagnosed with cancer.

Embracing a better diet becomes a major challenge when individuals endure constant social pressure to behave irresponsibly. Business meetings in Russia are still being closed with rounds of vodka. When colleagues and customers push you to drink, it is very difficult to resist, even if you are conscious of the negative consequences of your actions.

Inferior food and excessive alcohol undermine our health. Falsehoods sabotage our interests and place heavy burdens on our shoulders. Misrepresentations can be pleasant and enticing despite their lethal consequences. Stay away from them.

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


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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Achieving happiness through rationality. In search of principles that make sense. Concentrate your resources on essential tasks. Throw away unworkable plans

Rationality is the way to happiness
by John Vespasian

In a world where philosophy is often reduced to catch-phrases and empty theories, this is a passionate defence of logic and consistency as the keys to happiness. Personal effectiveness, the basis of well-being and success, results from rational goals, workable plans and relentless action. 

In the areas of career, health, relationships and investments, this essay shows how to let go of wasteful propositions, pursue compatible goals, cultivate perseverance and resilience, minimize problems and maximize opportunities. Inspired by the teachings of Aristotle, Maimonides, Erasmus, Montaigne, Epictetus and Spinoza, the book encourages readers to embrace rationality and adopt a self-reliant, entrepreneurial attitude.

Table of Contents

1. The untold key to success and happiness
Ten positive trends rarely reported by the media
The way to independent thinking
Trust only your own statistics
Achieving happiness through rationality
Wake up to a sharp vision of reality
Important lessons from history
In search of principles that make sense

2. Fundamental skills that everybody should master
Relentless initiative creates opportunities
An active mind looks for alternatives
Cultivate perseverance and resilience
Avoid waste and embrace frugality
Shun overcommitment and worry

3. The easy way to prosperity
Select a career where you can make a good living
Principles of accelerated learning
Using Ancient Mongol tactics to find employment
Discard the myth of career planning
Growth sectors in the 21st century
Those who can sell are always received well

4. Philosophical ideas to make the best of your life
Take the perspective of a lifetime
Focus on practical solutions
Self-confidence arises from preparedness
Pursue compatible goals
Concentrate your resources on essential tasks

5. Get out of losing situations
Immobility is the enemy of achievement
Train yourself to face nonsense calmly
Throw away unworkable plans
Read the writing on the wall
Take simple measures to protect yourself
You have more options than you think

6. Avoiding major mistakes
Preserve your independent thinking
Don't make the same mistake as Confucius
Entrepreneurship is the opposite of resignation
Abandon perfectionism right now
Waiting for the world to change is a waste of time

7. How to find love without making a mess of sex
Rational values are the basis of great relationships
Overcoming the main obstacle to meeting new people
The high cost of short-term romantic involvement
The entrepreneurial factor in love and friendship
What is the crucial success element in dating?
Break free from artificial social constraints

8. Saving and investing to secure your future
Take control of your financial life
Principles of rational investment
Techniques for reducing risk
How to develop self-confidence as an investor
Saving regularly brings peace of mind
The advantage of turbulent times

9. Principles of optimal health
The teachings of Maimonides
Living in accordance with nature
How psychology can improve your health
Modern theories about prolonging life
How some people live to become 100 years old
The low-cost approach to good nutrition
Effective methods for minimizing stress
Sleeping well by natural means

10. Seeking personal growth one day at a time
Embrace rational principles
The link between personal effectiveness and happiness
Become an entrepreneur in your everyday life
Do not be discouraged by your limited resources
Clear thinking gives you the ultimate advantage
It is on slow days when you make big breaks

11. Conclusion
The human need for logic and consistency
Achieving happiness in a chaotic world
Philosophy summarized in a single sentence
It takes a while, but it can be done

Rationality is the way to happiness
by John Vespasian

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

What factors contribute most to an optimal health? What we need are beneficial and workable ideas. Can you improve your health by following a few simple rules?

Studies in different areas of the world have tried to identify the common causes of extraordinary longevity. In Europe and Asia, certain villages, valleys, and islands are home to a large proportion of healthy octogenarians and nonagenarians. This is the case of Sardinia in Italy and Okinawa in Japan.

What factors contribute most to an optimal health?

Medical research has identified the elements in local diet that help residents maintain an excellent health at an advanced age. Some factors, such as landscape and climate, are linked to specific areas; other determinants, those of a more general nature, can contribute positively to human vitality irrespective of geography.

It stands to reason that the driving factors of extraordinary longevity must correspond to those of excellent health. The issue is to identify elements that we can take up in our daily life without incurring disproportionate effort and expense.

Even if we possessed evidence that some exotic herb is the key to excellent health, such knowledge would be of little help to people who cannot afford to purchase that plant on a regular basis. What we need are ideas that are, at the same time, beneficial and workable.

What we need are beneficial and workable ideas

The island of Sardinia, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is a favourite vacation destination for many Europeans. Its weather and landscape, however beautiful and pleasant, are not much different from other locations around the world. This factor alone renders the study of longevity in Sardinia particularly interesting.

Lessons drawn from the diet in Sardinia can be applied in other regions of the globe. This aspect is crucially important, since studies conducted in other areas of the world often link the enviable physical condition of youthful nonagenarians to herbs and plants that are unavailable to the populations of other countries.

Another remarkable outcome of the research carried out in Sardinia lies in the apparent simplicity of the formula. In contrast, if you have read any modern book on nutrition, you will have noted the extreme complexity of the advice it presents. Page after page are filled with long lists of recommendations and tables showing the specific dosage of each ingredient. Who can remember all that?

Like in business, success in health matters tends to depend on just a few factors. Minute instructions telling salesmen how to close a deal are useless in a commercial environment. Life is too fast for knowledge that cannot be summarized in a small number of consistent principles. The human mind is constructed to reduce knowledge to the essential and forget cumbersome details.

What are the few factors behind the excellent health of the elderly living in Sardinia? The conclusions of the research can be presented in five rules that are logical and easy to remember. These recommendations can be practised inexpensively by individuals in most countries of the world.

[1] Eat fresh food, above all vegetables and fruit: This truth may seem deceptively self-evident. In reality, few people make the effort to select fresh ingredients for their meals. The great majority of packaged food, whether intended for breakfast or dinner, does not contain fresh vegetables or fruit.

If you eat out frequently, you might go a long time without tasting fresh ingredients, except for the occasional salad. Can you figure out alternatives so that you consume more vegetables and fruit? What can you do to reduce your dependence on packaged food?

The reason why few people consume fresh food has to do more with inconvenience than expense. Eating fresh fruit and produce requires frequent visits to the supermarket, to the detriment of more pleasurable activities. Are you willing to make the necessary effort to protect your health?

[2] Use olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is consumed widely in Mediterranean countries. Italian, Greek, and Spanish cooking include olive oil as necessary ingredient in many dishes, as well in salads, marinades, and sauces. The use of butter and margarine for cooking is considered an inferior choice for your health.

The retail price of olive oil has diminished in the last decade due to changes in packaging. The traditional dark green glass bottle has been replaced by a hard plastic bottle of the same colour, which seems to preserve the characteristics of olive oil equally well.

If you don't live in a region where olive oil is in abundant supply, you might have to pay a few additional dollars per bottle. All in all, the decision to incorporate extra virgin olive oil in your diet might increase your food budget by a couple of hundred dollars per year, which is a modest investment if you consider the advantages for your health.

[3] Lemons and oranges: Citrus fruits contain high doses of vitamin C, which reinforces our immune system and helps combat cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C is also known to protect human cells against the accumulation of noxious substances.

Fresh oranges and lemons are available in most regions of the world at reasonable price, depending on the season. Grapefruit, papaya, strawberries, and mango are good substitutes for oranges and lemons.

Amongst the vegetables, vitamin C is also abundant in spinach and broccoli. Irrespective of your place of residence, eating citrus or similar fruits is an affordable habit that you should acquire.

[4] Eat fish often and, occasionally, lean meat: The reason behind this recommendation lies in the beneficial type of fat that is present in fish. Fish, in particular oily fish such as mackerel and sardines, is rich in a type of fat known as "omega-3." This element has proven to reduce dangerous cholesterol in human beings.

Fresh fish is a major component of the traditional Greek, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese diets. Unfortunately, this dietary habit has declined in the last decades, leading to an overall deterioration of the health level of the population.

Wild salmon, whose consumption is known to be particularly beneficial, is neither part of the traditional diet of Sardinia nor widely available across the world. Luckily, in most countries, you can find at least one or two types of fish that are affordable. Eating fish is a habit that you can easily take up and which can bring substantial advantages to your health.

[5] Drink alcohol rarely (and if you drink at all, then mainly red wine):
The red wine produced in Sardinia, in particular the type known as "vino nero" due to its dark colour, contains high doses of poly-phenol. This element, which comes from grape skins, has been proven to have a positive effect on the human cardiovascular system.

The consumption of red wine might explain why extraordinary longevity in Sardinia is mostly a male characteristic. Octogenarian and nonagenarian women are also present in the island, but their number does not reach the unusual proportion of healthy elderly men.

Red wines produced in other countries may contain less poly-phenol, but a moderate consumption should also produce a beneficial outcome for your health unless there are specific reasons that advise against your consuming any alcohol at all. Quality red wine is available around the world at reasonable price and most people love its taste.

Can you improve your health by following a few simple rules?

If you want to improve your overall health, forget about complicated rules. In the field of business, successful entrepreneurs know that the best results are obtained by concentrating energies on essential areas. Similarly, when it comes to enhancing our vitality, we will be better off if we acquire a few effective and pleasurable habits.

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


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The best blogs about psychology

    The best blogs about psychology

    Saturday, 24 August 2013

    How the wrong perspective can destroy your life. Embarking in losing ventures is the antithesis of self-development. A fundamental principle of personal growth

    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.

    How the wrong perspective can destroy your life

    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.

    Embarking in losing ventures is the antithesis of self-development

    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 embarking themselves on counter-productive ventures.

    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 propositions. 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.

    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.

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


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    Reason is the most powerful tool for dismantling falsehoods. Are you exaggerating the likelihood of disaster? Are you allowing your emotions to blow risks out of proportion?

    Thinking must take place before action if such action is to be productive; planning must take place before implementation if success is to be attained. Self-confidence needs to be built before it can be applied; skills must be acquired before they can be employed. How can we overcome exaggerated fears and take well-calculated steps? In which way can we increase our chances of success?

    Reason is the most powerful tool for dismantling falsehoods

    If we grow convinced that we stand a good chance of accomplishing our goals, we will become less worried and more adventurous. Logic is our cardinal ally for contesting overblown concerns. The best way to face fear is to demonstrate its irrationality, namely:

    Are you exaggerating the likelihood of disaster?

    The intensity of a potential catastrophe is independent of the likelihood of its occurrence. Salesmen promote insurance policies by painting vivid pictures of misfortune, but their sales presentations seldom mention the actual statistical probability of such misfortune taking place.

    The perception of risk is also heavily influenced by cultural stereotypes. Saving rates differ from country to country according to how citizens see their future; the willingness to change jobs and move to a distant city is higher in the US than in Europe; the proportion of the population that invests in the stock market also varies from country to country.

    Are you allowing your emotions to blow risks out of proportion?

    Potential dangers need to be quantified in order to be properly assessed. If emotions take control, they will exaggerate the negative consequences of risk. On many occasions, the material damages that people actually suffer are minor compared to the accompanying psychological discomfort.

    Many things we fear arise from stories written by marketeers. Why do California residents protect themselves more often against earthquakes than against divorce? Because salesmen market earthquake insurance very effectively, while at the same time, few couples are aware that a pre-nuptial agreement can protect them against a devastating divorce.

    Taking the time to assess risks objectively is essential for making good decisions

    If you are considering a challenging professional move, forget about irrational fears and ask yourself the right questions: if your new job proves to be a disappointment, what is the actual likelihood of your becoming unemployed? Even if you lost your new position, how long would it reasonably take you to regain employment?

    We worry about risks that have been exaggerated by marketeers trying to promote their products or services. Those who sell pension plans frequently paint grim pictures of retired people living in poverty and rightly so. There is no reason why salesmen should refrain from offering their insurance policies, but it is up to us to appraise risks according to their true gravity.

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


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    Friday, 23 August 2013

    Stress, worry, and anxiety are powerful inhibitors of achievement. There are good reasons why we fear failure more than we crave success

    Imagine for a moment that you would able to go after your goals without having to fear criticism from friends and family. Would you devote more efforts to pursuing your ambitions if you did not have to worry about ridicule in case of failure? How far would you invest yourself if you never had to deal with discouragement and doubts?

    There are good reasons why we fear failure more than we crave success. If we formulate the proposition in purely material terms, the discomfort suffered from not having any car is far superior than the advantages derived from having two cars; similarly, the terror of losing all our savings in a stock market crash is stronger than the perspective of doubling our assets if stock prices rise.

    Stress, worry, and anxiety are powerful inhibitors of achievement. Fear can make us discard viable initiatives; apprehension may consume our energies and prevent us from moving forward; concern can block reasonable attempts to improve our situation.

    We stay behind because our minds blow risks out of proportion; we give up too soon because we underestimate our capacity to adopt preventive measures; we walk downtrodden paths for fear of lions that we have never seen; we stick to unproductive routines to avoid the discomfort associated with change.

    Books and lectures that recommend to take risks remain unconvincing to most people. Common sense weighs heavier than motivational speeches. Change is disruptive; we crave what we can gain less than we dread what we can lose. 

    Cheerful words and doubtful promises are not sufficient to assuage our concerns. Only realism can prompt us to overcome fear; only rationality can lead us to take entrepreneurial risks.

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


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    Thursday, 22 August 2013

    The solution to stress: simplification. Should you worry about the state of the economy? Let go of linear expectations. Rewrite your personal history

    The Philosophy of Builders
    by John Vespasian 

    The factors that lead to prosperity and happiness have changed little through the ages. From the lives of accomplished men and women, we can extract the three principles that they have used to build a better future: self-reliance, tolerance and entrepreneurship. 

    This book presents how individuals can use these principles to overcome adversity and improve their lives. Through the analysis of situations in the areas of relationships, career, health and investments, it shows how to overcome pessimism and discouragement, walk the path of least resistance, simplify your life and reduce costs, and focus on real opportunities. 

    The ideas are illustrated with examples from the lives of Paracelsus, Jane Austen, Thomas of Aquinas, Gutenberg, Jules Verne and many other historical figures, showing how they overcame obstacles and built a better future for themselves.


    1. Achieve basic stability
    Never underestimate what one man alone can do
    Establish the foundation of long-term achievement
    Attack problems one by one
    Do not allow vanity to paralyse you
    Pay attention to danger signals
    Build on existing strengths
    Learn to view problems in perspective
    Wait only the strictly necessary

    2. Overcome pessimism and discouragement
    Assess risks rationally, not emotionally
    Quantify what you can expect
    Passive acceptance is not the way to go
    Dispute negative thinking patterns
    Embrace a philosophy that leads to happiness
    Avoid inconsistent decisions
    Read inspiring authors

    3. Walk the path of least resistance
    Discard unworkable plans
    Use realism to avoid waste
    Look at what people are actually buying
    Adopt a lifestyle that suits your temperament
    Use long-term goals to determine your direction
    Stay out of hopeless ventures
    Avoid relativism and scepticism
    Find an outlet for your talents

    4. Take measures to prevent problems
    Be prepared to face misfortune
    Concentrate on crucial factors
    Pay attention only to quality information
    Identify potential threats
    Look for simple prescriptions
    Protect yourself effectively
    Increase your resilience against adversity

    5. Simplify your life and reduce your costs
    Don't fall in the trap of short-term thinking
    Enjoy the benefits of the immigrant mentality
    When should you be willing to overpay?
    Choose inexpensive alternatives
    You can learn the basics quickly
    Being healthier by consuming less
    The solution to stress: simplification

    6. Start new projects with minimum resources
    Gather support as you go
    The danger of getting stuck in abstractions
    Avoid inaccessible markets
    Do not be intimidated by other people's achievements
    Most barriers are psychological
    Small but regular steps often lead to success

    7. Focus on real opportunities
    Select a low-risk approach
    You can profit from troubled times
    How to identify promising ideas
    Should you worry about the state of the economy?
    Use low-cost marketing techniques
    Redefine what is essential
    Value creation begins with observation

    8. Adopt productivity as a way of life
    Do not assign excessive weight to mistakes
    In case of doubt, opt for a logical explanation
    Steady work is preferable to occasional jobs
    Choose stories that promote achievement
    A change of speed might be all you need
    Work only on one major project at a time
    Let go of linear expectations
    Never entrust your future to chance
    Keep flexible and alert

    9. Take relentless action
    Fill your days with worthy activities
    Experiment to find out what works
    Adopt effective routines
    In crucial matters, do not leave anything untried
    Continuous action breeds opportunities
    Rewrite your personal history
    Can you turn adversity into an asset?
    Action is the best way to overcome obstacles

    The Philosophy of Builders
    by John Vespasian

    Wednesday, 21 August 2013

    Location is not a philosophical issue. The mistake of pursuing personal growth where possibilities are scarce. How to increase self-confidence by moving to a more favourable setting

    If you want to waste your life, you just have to devote your days to searching for things where there aren't. A second formula for squandering your resources is to chase people that are unavailable. The same goes for attempting to travel to places that are not accessible.

    Location is not a philosophical issue

    We all engage in this kind of pursuits occasionally and that's fine, since nobody possesses perfect knowledge. What is heartbreaking is when someone persists in trying to reach an impossible goal. Children engage in such attempts and so do mice trapped in a maze; adults should know better than that.

    Counter-productive behaviour arises from self-inflicted blindness. We sabotage our interests when we allow our desire for comfort to obscure the truth. If you want cheap oranges, go to Morocco, not to the airport deli.

    If you wish to move towards prosperity, take action consistent with reason. This principle, if applied consistently, can bring major improvements to your life. A wise man in search of a job does not go to the desert. If you do that, you might get lucky and find the only opening available, but chances are that you won't.

    Imagine that you are working at a factory located in a small town that does not offer other employment possibilities. What should you do if the factory shuts down? You should not waste time hanging around waiting for a miracle. You should pack your things, get into your car, and drive to a place where companies are hiring.

    The mistake of pursuing personal growth where possibilities are scarce

    Choose the easy way to prosperity and do not try to sell products where there are no buyers. Sometimes, you find large numbers of empty houses in a thinly inhabited area. This happened because real estate developers made a wrong calculation and wasted a fortune. Putting up buildings on locations where few people are interested to buy or rent constitutes pure waste. The lesson to be drawn is clear. Focus your efforts on places where there are customers.

    Nobody should go to Siberia on holidays seeking warm weather. People who prefer to live in areas where cold temperatures reign most of the year usually have good reasons for doing so, such as cheap housing, low criminality, or specific job opportunities.

    Location is not a philosophical issue. A man can choose to live wherever he likes best, but if you happen to love warm weather, Siberia shouldn't be amongst your favourite destinations.

    Every minute devoted to pursuing the impossible is gone forever without profit. The world is complicated enough as it is. Attempting to hit unattainable targets is pointless; it does not even make a good hobby. Take the easy way to prosperity: stay away from barren fields and focus your efforts on fruitful land.

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


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    Monday, 19 August 2013

    The best blogs about psychology

      The best blogs about psychology

      Are your ideas helping you improve your life? The courage to discard concepts that don't work. The rational approach to self-confidence and personal growth

      Sooner or later, human beings come to realize that some ideas that they hold in high regard do not work. The most common reaction in those cases is denial. Few individuals like the uncertainty of change; even fewer are willing to admit mistakes and take openly the blame.

      Are your ideas helping you improve your life? 

      Ideas engage people and people move the world. Our convictions contribute to our effectiveness more than our material resources. If we hold the right ideas, we will progress; if we believe in falsehoods and inconsistencies, we will fail. There is no escape from this principle.

      Are your beliefs promoting fear or prompting you to take effective action? Have you acquired a clear view of the world? Can you see reality without the distortions of wishful thinking? Can you face life without envy and discouragement? Are your convictions hindering or supporting your motivation?

      The courage to discard concepts that don't work

      We can define ideas that work as those that allow us to identify problems, analyse their causes, and figure out workable solutions. Worthless opinions are those that render us insensitive to danger, lead us to react irrationally to difficulties, and contaminate our emotions with anger or anxiety. Counter-productive views are those that sabotage our initiatives and waste our potential.

      The first step to improve your life is to throw away all ideas that do not work; you have to let go of unproven theories before you embrace feasible solutions; you cannot become efficient until you discard all excuses for rigidity and inertia. In order to move forward, we must stop pushing backwards; in order to look at the horizon, we must lift our eyes from the ground

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


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      Saturday, 17 August 2013

      The psychological benefits of rags-to-riches stories. The rational approach to overcoming stress, worry, anxiety, or depression. A message of hope

      Chances are that you have never heard of Horatio Alger. In his time, that is, during the last two decades of the 19th century, he was one the best-selling writers in the United States of America. Alger was the author of dozens of novels aimed at young readers, telling for the most part rags-to-riches stories.

      "Ragged Dick" was his most famous book. Its protagonist, a quintessential Alger character, tries out his hand at different professions until he finally achieves the life of prosperity that he pursues. "He went into business," wrote Alger in that novel, "starting in a small way, and worked his way up by degrees."

      If you read Alger's novels nowadays, you might find their plot too simple. His characters were, to a certain extent, stereotypes. Did Alger's stories take place in exotic, exciting settings? No, that was mostly not the case. Was Alger an author known for his ability to write impressive dialogue? Hardly. His prose was fine, but not spectacular.

      Literary critics who have studied Alger's work often conclude that his extraordinary popularity was based on the fact that "his stories responded well to the spirit of his time," a period of adventurous entrepreneurs and rapid economic progress.

      This conclusion might be true, but in my view, it still leaves an important aspect out of the picture. If you read Horatio Alger's stories, you will find that they address important life issues. His novels revolved around fundamental values such as ambition, independence, and integrity.

      The recurring message in Alger's books is that you, the reader, has the same right to succeed as anybody else, irrespective of your origin, family, or personal history. If you don't give up and keep on pushing, you might just make it.

      "Keep up a little longer and we will save you," wrote Horatio Alger in the final chapter of his best-selling book. "Dick heard the shout and it put fresh strength into him. He battled manfully with the treacherous sea, his eyes fixed longingly on the approaching boat. Hold on tight, little boy, there's a boat coming."

      No wonder that those who read Alger's novels in the late 19th century liked them so much. At that time, when the world was still untouched by radio, films, and television, Alger's popular fiction was a bright sign pointing to a better future, telling each of his readers that he had been selected to make his dreams come true. Today, a century later, this message of hope is something that we don't get to hear often enough.

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


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      Friday, 16 August 2013

      Would you recognize yourself in the crowd? Do not waste your best years pursuing unworkable ideals. Every archer needs more than one arrow. Personal effectiveness depends on patterns

      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 

      Wednesday, 14 August 2013

      The philosophy of psychology. The role of personal initiative. Speed as a synonym for efficiency. The key to self-development and happiness: a rational approach

      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.

      The philosophy of psychology

      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.

      Rationality is the way to happiness
      The role of personal initiative   

      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.

      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.

      Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief
      Speed as a synonym for efficiency 

      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.

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


      Image by Rosa y Dani under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under
      The 10 Principles of Rational Living

      The best blogs about psychology

        The best blogs about psychology

        Tuesday, 13 August 2013

        Why complaining and wishful thinking are ineffectual. Barring extreme bad luck, ethical actions lead to happiness. The rational approach to self-development

        Human action produces the greatest benefits when it is focused on providing rational solutions to critical problems. A wise man uses logic to determine which difficulties are to be addressed with priority. He applies his energies to overcome major obstacles and ignores small inconveniences.

        Barring extreme bad luck, ethical actions lead to happiness

         Given sufficient time, logic and consistency produce positive results. A rational approach to living gives you the ultimate advantage in the fields of investment, health, career, or relationships. Barring extreme bad luck or misfortune, ethical actions lead to happiness.

        The easiest way to accelerate your personal growth is to concentrate your efforts on the area of your life where problems are most pressing. Successful managers apply this strategy to their businesses. For instance, when assembly difficulties slow down production in a furniture factory, the solution might call for simpler designs.

        You only have one life to enjoy and it is up to you to decide which path to follow. Assess your situation objectively, placing facts above prejudice. Ignore empty promises and select your best alternative on solid grounds.

        Do not waste time trying to impress people who do not care for you. Discard nonsense and embrace logic. Design your strategy according to reality. See what works well in the world and identify the keys to prosperity.

        Why c
        omplaining and wishful thinking are ineffectual

        Complaining and wishful thinking are ineffectual. Ambitious goals can only be achieved through thoughtful plans and consistent implementation. Psychological balance can only be maintained through rational values and a sense of purpose.

        Sound principles are as beneficial as they are demanding. Irrationality may seem comfortable in the short-term, but contradictions ultimately result in failure. Individuals determine their own future by their passion to turn dreams into reality and their logic in the choice of means.

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


        Image by MAC SURAK under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

        Monday, 12 August 2013

        Worrying is essentially a waste of time. Why you should discard stress, anxiety, and depression. Learning to deal with the world's problems

        Economic problems are similar to the influenza virus that marks the arrival of winter every year. Exaggerated concern seldom improves anything. Instead, individuals should identify the path that minimizes trouble and, if possible, find ways to profit from it.

        Worrying is essentially a waste of time

        Whenever you hear that inflation or deflation are coming, ask yourself how you can structure your finances in order to benefit from the situation. Can you link your income to a product whose price is likely to increase or decrease at the same pace as the overall economy? Can you reduce the amount of cash that you require to live and invest the remainder in assets that will profit from upcoming economic changes?

        Economists speculate all the time about next year's rates of unemployment, inflation or deflation. For your personal investment decisions, you don't need to wait until the exact figure is known. On most occasions, knowing the general trend is enough to make rational investment choices.

        If newspapers are discussing whether next year's inflation is going to be 6% or 7%, that tells you as much as you need to know. Take swift action and reflect about how to structure your finances to deal with such price increases. Worrying is essentially a waste of time. Although you cannot reshape the world according to your taste, nothing prevents you from taking measures to minimize trouble. 

        Why you should discard stress, anxiety, and depression

        Discard stress, anxiety, and depression, learn to face problems in the best possible way, and become a rational investor. Your financial and philosophical sharpness will grow together. Your personal effectiveness will increase and you will become more tolerant and self-reliant.

        Stop worrying, take action, and start making money. Never place all your savings on a single investment. If you acquire the habit of diversifying your investments amongst different types of assets, chances are that you will be much less troubled. If you purchase shares of solid companies around the world, your portfolio will tend to be less affected by problems in specific countries.

        Learning to deal with the world's problems is a better approach than being paralysed by them. Wisdom is the process of learning what a man can achieve and what he should rather let go of. Becoming a rational investor will make you a better human being and help you overcome whatever financial fears the day may bring.

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


        Image by Marshall Flickman under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

        Sunday, 11 August 2013

        Stop worrying and start protecting yourself. Do what you can do, let go of what you cannot. Overcoming the psychological resistance to action

        The world is plagued by problems of all sorts. During your lifetime, chances are that you will go through periods of inflation, deflation, unemployment, rising share prices and stock market crashes. Newspapers report these problems with regularity and it seems that some of them will remain unresolved in the foreseeable future.

        Stop worrying and start protecting yourself

        At the time of this writing, most economists agree that increased consumer prices are coming, although nobody can tell precisely when this will happen. If you live on a fixed income, as it is the case of most pensioners, you should view inflation as a cause of a serious concern.

        When the media mention that a loss of purchasing power might take place within months, danger is already looming in the horizon. If you do nothing, inflation will catch you unprepared. If you take appropriate measures, that will not be the end of the story either. As soon as inflation is under control, the next problem will come to haunt us, possibly another stock market crash.

        Even if you occupy a position of influence, your possibilities of changing society remain minuscule for the simple reason that millions of people out there don't care about what you think and never will. Major changes in History ultimately result from ideas held in high regard, rightly or wrongly, by significant segments of the population. Those beliefs evolve through generations and change very slowly, even in the era of the internet and the global economy.

        Do what you can do, let go of what you cannot 

        As an investor, you will be much better off if you realize your impotence to bring fundamental changes to society and stop worrying about it. An effective strategy to help other people, which is by all means a laudable intent, is to focus your efforts on a restricted field where your contribution can really make a difference.

        Adopting a rational investment philosophy involves giving up unrealistic expectations and concentrating on what is feasible. You cannot prevent inflation or deflation from taking place, but if you play your cards well, you can make money from them. Instead of worrying about the disadvantages of rising or falling prices, why don't you figure out how to use each financial phenomenon for your personal profit?

        Achieving a positive result in your bank account will allow you to devote your gains to helping others, if that is your wish. For each disruptive event, there is an investment strategy that can help you make a profit. Rising share prices represent the easiest situation to deal with because most people can figure out that there is plenty of money to be made if you borrow at 6% interest and invest at 12% return.

        Overcoming the psychological resistance to action

        What makes rational investment difficult is our psychological resistance to letting go of worry, recognizing past mistakes, and taking practical action. In addition, a wise man must accept that an investment method that proves successful in one environment frequently becomes unsuitable when the context changes.

        Real estate and gold coins may be great investments during inflationary periods, but tend to be lousy places to keep your money when the curve turns and prices begin to fall. You certainly don't want to be caught with a huge mortgage at a high rate when the price of residential properties begins to fall.

        It is up to you in each case to take sensible measures to profit from the situation or, at least, to minimize its negative consequences. As individuals, our best strategy consists of letting go of anxiety and viewing inflation, deflation, unemployment, or any other economic challenge just as another problem to be handled.

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


        Image by Mara 1 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under