Thursday, 31 October 2013

Learning from people who never feel discouraged. A recipe for getting ahead in good and bad times. If one road is blocked, take another. Why it is so difficult to lead a simple life. The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day

The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

In order to improve your life, you don't need to place your hopes on a lottery ticket or wait for the world to grant you the perfect opportunity. There is a better way and it is condensed in the principles of rational living, principles such as “think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader,” “ignore the noise and focus on results,” “stay away from high-risk situations,” “find people who share your values,” and “develop strong long-term passions.” 

This book presents the principles of rational living in great detail, with numerous examples of people who have applied them successfully. The principles of rational living are sound ideas that can dramatically improve your life. Learn all about them and start applying them today.


1. Think like an entrepreneur, not like a crusader
A recipe for getting ahead in good and bad times
Debating and arguing are a waste of time
The true believer is the one who preaches by example
Entrepreneurs thrive on trouble and inconvenience
Unlike resources, opportunities are infinite

2. Ignore the noise and focus on results
If one road is blocked, take another
How to keep calm when you are surrounded by nonsense
The effective way to handle work overload
Learning from people who never feel discouraged
A proven strategy against career stagnation

3. Live inexpensively and invest for future income
Why the stock market offers the best opportunities
Common traits of great businessmen and investors
What kind of companies should you invest in?
A simple strategy is all you need
Adopt a realistic and practical approach

4. Choose a simple and healthy lifestyle
Don't just eat well, eat wonderfully
What is healthy, tasty, and easy to cook?
How to reduce everyday risks to your health
Eating healthily when you are travelling
Is it possible to slow down ageing?
Why it is so difficult to lead a simple life

5. Find people who share your values
Why you should ignore most of what you hear
The ugly duckling story repeats itself every day
Overcoming the resistance to changing jobs and relocating
Don't be original, be unique
Proven strategies for building great relationships
Would you recognize yourself in the crowd?

6. Listen to your emotions, but check the facts
Beware of exaggerated romantic tales
In dating and cooking, choose natural ingredients
How far are you willing to go for happiness?
Conflicting values lead to contradictory behaviour
The short distance between infatuation and obfuscation
Do not waste your best years pursuing unworkable ideals

7. Accept the inevitable hassles of life
Putting an end to exaggerated fears
Extreme reactions are foolish and wasteful
In praise of caution and circumspection
Can you remain self-confident in times of trouble?
How impatient people become stoic philosophers
Never grant problems more weight than they deserve

8. Stay away from high-risk situations
Death statistics make great bedtime reading
Tranquillity seldom comes cheap
Do not make an obsession of the perfect profession
Three situations that you should avoid like the pest
Every archer needs more than one arrow
The jungle never sleeps

9. Acquire effective habits
An hour has sixty minutes, a day twenty-four hours
In praise of staying behind
How a proactive attitude helps you overcome difficulties
Let go of the dead weight of prejudice
Smooth operators get more out of life
Personal effectiveness depends on patterns

10. Develop strong long-term passions
Comparing yourself with other people makes no sense
Don't drink the poison of contradiction
What heroes are made of
The myths of the single skill and the unique opportunity
Become tolerant of mistakes, since you will make so many
The link between integrity and passion

The 10 Principles of Rational Living
by John Vespasian 

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

How to prevent unnecessary conflict and avoid wasting your time. Prudence can spare you an immense amount of trouble. More often than not, it is possible to stay away from pointless confrontation

Ideally, you want to adopt cautious, discreet measures that spare you unnecessary conflict. Instead of confrontation, avoidance should be your preferred approach. Here are some practical ideas about how to prevent unnecessary conflict.

How to prevent unnecessary conflict and avoid wasting your time

The first line of defence is simply to avoid people who constitute an obvious threat. For example, imagine that you are waiting at a queue to buy a cinema ticket and you see a man approach. He is walking exceedingly fast, bumping into passers-by, and he does not even stop to apologize. 

His face shows a stern expression, his eyes are focused on the sidewalk, and he is talking to himself, oblivious of his surroundings. He is headed to collide with people waiting in the cinema queue. 

For a moment, you think of calling his attention, but your prudence takes over. You take a step backwards and let him go through. Congratulations you have spared yourself some completely unnecessary trouble.

Prudence can spare you an immense amount of trouble

The second principle is steering away from people who are repeatedly involved in fights. Imagine for example that you hire a new recruit for your sales team, a young man who made an excellent impression during the interview. He possesses considerable drive and ambition, together with first-class verbal skills.

The young man seems to be the right kind of person to represent your company. During the interview, he gave good answers to your questions and you feel confident that you have made a great choice.

However, on his second week on the job, you perceive details that no longer match the first picture. On Tuesday morning, he comes to work unshaven, wearing yesterday's ruffled shirt, with a ketchup stain on his tie and a bruise on his forehead.

Gently, you draw his attention to how important it is for a salesman to give a professional image, but he tells you that he has been involved in a bar fight. Two weeks later, a similar episode takes place.

You hesitate for a short while, wondering if he is going through temporary difficulties. That might well be the case, but you know that you shouldn't take the risk of having any kind of aggression against co-workers. You summon the young man to your office and, regretfully, you fire him. Congratulations again, you have put an end to situation that could jeopardise your business and your future.

Irrational rigidity is often a warning of upcoming problems

As a general principle, it is a good idea to stay away from people who are irrationally rigid in their attitudes or views. Imagine for example that, in the factory where you work, the Head of Finance assigns you to take part in a project with several persons from other departments. During the first meeting of the team, a participant defends an untenable approach and opposes all sensible suggestions from colleagues.

That person, whom you have never met before, makes an overall impression of obstinacy and does not even allow other team members to finish their sentences. His stubbornness surpasses all tolerable levels and goes as far as threatening anyone who disagrees with him. Should you face him head-on and engage in a verbal confrontation?

Your best option is to try to have all important decisions postponed and, as soon as the meeting is over, discuss the problem discreetly with a few team members that you trust. Then, together, you go to see the Head of Finance, tell him about the incident, and have the troublesome individual removed from the project. Congratulations for a third time, you have prevented some serious problems down the road.

More often than not, it is possible to stay away from pointless confrontation

Another trait of people who are likely to cause unnecessary problems is that they use of offensive or hurtful words. Imagine for instance that you meet a very attractive woman and begin to date her regularly. Her charms make her irresistible. You feel that you have met the woman of your life and start thinking of marrying her.

The only aspect that troubles you is that, from time to time, she gets disproportionately upset about problems or inconveniences. One evening, when you arrive late for dinner due to a traffic jam, she becomes enraged and attacks you verbally. You put the incident down to her having a bad day and forget about it.

However, after spending a weekend together, you inadvertently wash her blue dress with the white linen and she reacts furiously, shouting insults at you. As a result, you decide to stop seeing her and call yourself lucky for having detected the problem early enough. Congratulations, you have spared yourself plenty of unnecessary irritation and inconvenience.

Wise people know how to draw the right conclusions from facts

Are these recommendations exaggerated? Should you always be on the watch for potential dangers? No, but you need to remain alert to a reasonable extent. Wise people know how to separate their desire to live in a perfect world from the reality of human experience.

When you detect an aggressive person, avoid automatic reactions and behave as prudently as you do in your everyday business dealings. Do not waste time trying to fix the problems of strangers. Instead, move on and seek out the company of benevolent, kind individuals, since those are the type of people that are going to make a positive difference in your life.

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


Image by dherman1145 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

The best psychology blogs. How to accelerate your self-development. Effective techniques for overcoming adversity. Achieving personal growth. Dealing effectively with stress, anxiety, and depression

    The best psychology blogs
    1. John Vespasian
    2. Mindhacks
    3. Life Optimizer
    4. The Empower Blog (Dr Hiten Vyas)
    5. Wisebread
    6. Inspire Me Today
    7. Early to rise
    8. Unlimited Choice
    9. Pick the brain
    10. The Positive Blog
    11. A Happy Girl
    12. Larry Winget
    13. The Art of Non-Conformity
    14. Personal Success Today
    15. History of Psychology
    16. Zen Habits
    17. Psychological Science
    18. Radiant Soul Space (Otiti Jasmine)
    19. Chance Scoggins
    20. Time Shifting
    21. The Happiness Project
    22. Miz Meliz
    23. Positive Sharing
    24. Brian Kim
    25. Talent Develop
    26. Today is that day
    27. Personal Excellence
    28. The Extraordinary Ordinary
    29. The Jungle of Life
    30. The Albert Ellis Institute 
    31. Dumb Little Man
    32. Fancy Feet (Heidi Cave)
    33. Dalal Akoury
    34. Personal Success Today
    35. Simple Productivity Blog
    36. Meaningful Western Life
    37. Live Bold and Bloom
    38. Try to Stay Positive
    39. Ian's Messy Desk
    40. Anxiety no more
    41. Brain Blog
    42. Advances in the History of Psychology
    43. Positive Provocations
    44. Vishnu's Virtues
    45. Optimistic Life
    46. Up Popped a Fox
    47. Remove Your Limits
    48. Rational Jenn
    49. One Crafty Mother
    50. Laura Freberg
    51. Life Dev
    52. Escape Adulthood
    53. Association for Psychological Science
    54. Tim Ferriss - The Four-Hour Work-week
    55. Mudita Journal
    56. Barrie Davenport
    57. OK Dork (Noah Kagan)
    58. Psycholocrazy
    59. Stress Eraser
    60. Unclutterer
    61. Home-life Simplified (Australia)
    62. The Situationist
    63. Persistence Unlimited
    64. Do it myself (Glenda Watson Hyatt)
    65. Running on Happiness
    66. Good Therapy
    67. Center for Rational Living
    68. A Flourishing Life
    69. The Bold Life
    70. Lil Blue Boo
    71. In Pursuit of Happiness
    72. Panic and depression
    73. Rational Living Therapy Institute
    74. Psych Central
    75. Shake off the grind and begin to thrive
    76. Living Rationally
    77. Steve Pavlina
    78. Rational Philosophy
    79. Dragos Roua
    80. Happiness in this World
    81. Ramble. Focus. Ramble.
    82. Please Feel Beautiful
    83. Living with anxiety
    84. Personal Success Factors
    85. Enjoying the Small Things (Kelle Hampton)
    86. Kimchi Mamas
    87. Sensophy (Jacob Sokol)
    88. Teaching High School Psychology
    89. The Splintered Mind
    90. Anxiety Slayer
    91. The Psychology of Well-being
    92. Always well within
    93. Hope to cope
    94. National Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapists
    95. Philosophy and Life 
    96. Craig Harper (Australia)
    97. The Start of Happiness
    98. The Bounce Blog - Develop the Resiliency in You
    99. Influence People (Brian Ahearn)
    100. The Philosophy Blog
    101. Research Digest on Brain and Behaviour
    102. Rationally Speaking
    103. Lifehack
    104. Love and Smiles
    105. Deric Bownds Mindblog
    106. Martin Poldma
    107. Manage Your Life Now
    108. Experimental Philosophy
    109. Meant to be happy
    110. Tiny Buddha
    111. The Partially Examined Life
    112. A Daring Adventure
    113. Philosophy etc
    114. Gala Darling
    115. British Psychological Society
    116. Abundance Tapestry
    117. Philosophers Anonymous
    118. Oliver Burkeman
    119. Prolific Living
    120. Maverick Philosopher
    121. Philosophy Talk
    122. My super-charged life
    123. Penelope Trunk
    124. Greater Good
    125. Reflecting a life
    126. Philosophy in a Time of Error
    127. How to overcome depression
    128. Help with depression
    129. How to beat depression
    130. How to deal with depression
    131. How to fight depression
    132. How to overcome anxiety
    133. Anxiety relief
    134. Help with anxiety
    135. How to deal with anxiety
    136. How to cope with anxiety
    137. How to reduce stress
    138. Stress relief
    139. How to deal with stress
    140. Stress management

    Monday, 28 October 2013

    Do you have a plan for the next 17.000 days? Your most crucial decision is your time allocation. An important lesson drawn from a simple exercise. Why you should fear boring activities more than risky ones

    Do you know how to calculate the amount of fear holding you back in life? Take a pen and a piece of paper. On top of the page, write down your current age, for instance "44 years old." At the bottom, indicate how old you intend to grow before you die. "Death at 90" is a reasonable target.

    Do you have a plan for the next 17.000 days?

    Now comes the mathematical part of the exercise. Draw a straight line connecting your current age with your death. That line represents the number of days that you have left on earth. In our example, the difference between 90 and 44 leaves you with 46 years, that is, almost 17.000 days.

    The vertical line on the page divides your future in two areas. The last part of the game consists of deciding how you are going to use those 17.000 days. On the left side of the line, you can write down safe and commonplace goals. On the right side, difficult and disruptive ambitions.

    Boring projects are easy to name and quantify. They include, amongst others, looking for better jobs (600 days), cleaning the house (600 days), and going on holidays (1000 days). The rules of the exercise allow you to list as many activities as you wish, provided that you don't run out of time to live.

    On your left-side list, you should not forget mundane tasks such as working five days a week (5400 days), washing your car once per month (500 hours), getting a divorce (150 days) and shopping for new clothes (250 days). When your remaining term of 46 years is up, you are dead.

    Your most crucial decision is your time allocation

    You only need to worry about the opposite side of the line if you have unused time, which is unlikely. The truth is that most people will allocate their complete lifespan to left-side tasks, including essential activities such as watching television (4000 days) and walking their dog (1000 days).

    What about the right side of the line? Does anyone actually write down adventurous, risky goals? Are there people foolish enough to risk total failure in order to pursue their dreams? Is it not better to stick to attainable objectives? This is the type of activities that usually come up under the label "difficult and disruptive:"

    1. Live in Paris for a year (500 days, including preparation and removal)
    2. Start up and grow an internet business (3000 days)
    3. Write twenty great books (3000 days)
    4. Save and invest until you are able to live from dividends (6000 days)
    5. Learn to cook according to good nutrition principles (300 days)
    6. Lose weight and acquire habits that allow you to stay in good shape (500 days)

    An important lesson drawn from a simple exercise

    One could argue that this game is useless, since it has no winner and no loser. Since the same individual appears on both sides of the line, what is the point? What is the purpose of the exercise? The answer is that, paradoxically, the subjects on each side of the line are different persons.

    One of them is boring, the other fearless. One of them is aimless, the other determined. One of them is predictable, the other exciting. The lesson is that, one day, the 46 years will be consumed all the same. At the end, results will be trivial or spectacular, meaningless or irreplaceable.

    If you don't like the outcome of your calculations, take a blank piece of paper, draw a new vertical line, and start the exercise again. After a few times, you will get quite good at it. At one point, you will begin to fear boring activities more than risky ones. If you are already there, congratulations, now you know how to win the game.

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


    Image by Alan.V. under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

    Saturday, 26 October 2013

    Do not waste your time listening to pessimistic forecasts. Gloom-and-doom prophets seldom provide solutions. Analyse your risks objectively, not emotionally. Put a limit on your potential losses

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

    Do not waste your time listening to pessimistic forecasts

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

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

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

    Gloom-and-doom prophets seldom provide solutions

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

    Dispiriting messages attain their targets with the precision of a laser. No discouraging word is wasted and no gloomy prediction remains ignored. The machine that destroys hope and inspiration works with outstanding efficiency.

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

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

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

    Analyse your risks objectively, not emotionally

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

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

    Put a limit on your potential losses

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

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

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

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

    Stop worrying and take productive action

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

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

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

    Check the facts and question your assumptions

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

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

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

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

    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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    Four ancient principles to protect your health today. Galen maintained that health and philosophy are closely connected. His four prescriptions for preserving health do not demand large financial resources

    The Ancient Greek physician Galen (circa 130 - 200 AD) recorded many interesting ideas on this subject, which was later expanded by other medics in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Although many centuries have passed, many discoveries of antiquity are still adhered to by modern medicine.

    Four ancient principles to protect your health today

    Galen spent his youth learning about sickness and treatments before he moved to Rome in the year 162. He has gone down into History as much for his medical discoveries as for his tremendous output as a writer. Even though a great part of Galen's work has been lost, what remains fills more than 20 volumes.

    His aphorisms, which condense medical truths in short sentences, reflect fundamental aspects of physical and mental health. One of the threads that runs through his writings is the search of simplicity. His advocacy of straightforward methods to improve man's well-being contrasted with the semi-magical medicine that was still being practised by most of his contemporaries.

    Galen maintained that health and philosophy are closely connected. As a consequence, a man who wishes to maintain his vitality will do well to act prudently and respect ethical principles. Galen's four prescriptions for preserving health do not demand large financial resources and can be followed by most people. Here is a summary of his four fundamental precepts:

    Maintain a balanced diet

    At the time of Galen's writings, the biochemical properties of vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered. Nevertheless, what he had learned from other physicians and his own observations led him to recommend vegetables, fruits, and herbs on many occasions. Nowadays, those are items that most people can afford to purchase without making extraordinary efforts.

    Ancient medicine believed that each element in the universe had a purpose. This conviction led Galen to experiment with different dietary treatments in response to sickness. His goal was to find the right combination of elements that fulfilled the purpose of health recovery. A balanced, prudent diet was also advocated in the Middle Ages by Maimonides, a famous physician who was familiar with Galen's work.

    Take up moderate exercise

    While modern times favour body building and other forms of muscle training, Galen was an advocate of moderation. In his own life, he gave example of this precept by avoiding strenuous assignments. When he was offered a post of physician in the Roman army marching against the barbarians in Northern Europe, he declined and stayed in Rome.

    One of Galen's aphorisms says that sickness caused by excessive strain should be cured by rest. In this sense, the inordinate professional stress that many people endure in our age should not be exacerbated by further tensions in their private life.

    Spending time with friends, cultivating hobbies, and enjoying art will do more to re-establish balance in your life than watching television or practising demanding sports. Galen also recommended walking as a beneficial form of exercise.

    Practise good hygiene

    Even though bacteria and viruses had not yet been discovered in antiquity, Galen's books show that he was conscious of the major role that external influences play in human health. The purpose of medicine, he wrote, was to re-establish the patient's health in relation to his environment, taking also the seasons into account.

    Galen's early training as physician took place in Greece, which at that time comprised part of the Middle East. Ancient Greeks considered thermal baths salutary and those attracted far-away visitors seeking to cure physical or mental illness.

    In those days, a journey to a renowned thermal location involved disproportionately high costs that few individuals could afford. Luckily, modern plumbing, shampoo, and tooth brushes now allow practically everybody to enjoy excellent levels of hygiene inexpensively.

    Adopt simple measures to prevent sickness

    The need to preserve the natural limits of life is a theme that permeates Galen's books. The best way to maintain our health, he wrote, is to adopt preventive measures to counterbalance excesses.

    He warned against lack of moderation and advocated measures against exaggerated eating as well as against insufficient food intake. Similarly, he advised to avoid excessive immobility and immoderate exercise. The purpose of prevention should be to maintain the natural balance in all areas of our lives.

    Galen's principles emphasize the importance of preserving health at the same time as the need to do it in a simple and straightforward manner. By all means, do elevate health to your first priority, but make it a cheap and workable one. Your goal should be to develop effective habits that maintain your vitality with minimum effort and expense. 

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


    Image by Alaskan Dude under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

    Self-confidence arises from preparedness. Don't make the same mistake as Confucius. The entrepreneurial factor in love and friendship. The advantage of turbulent times. How psychology can improve your health

    Rationality is the Way to Happiness

    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

    Friday, 25 October 2013

    The fallacy of pay-more, live-longer. Where the difference is, and where it is not. Making health your first priority is an excellent choice that works best when you implement it as inexpensively as possible

    When people talk about priorities, they usually refer to items on which they spend substantial sums of money. A comfortable car and a large house are on the top of the list of many individuals, together with a well-paying, stable, and interesting job.

    The fallacy of pay-more, live-longer

    Health is also important for the great majority of men and women. Products sold in supermarkets and convenience stores respond to this concern by promoting low-calories drinks, low-fat cookies, sugarless sweets, and cooking magazines.

    Organic-food stores represent the last step in the evolution of this trend. Consumers want to buy the best produce, the purest bread, and fresh natural pastries. Even though the cost associated to those choices can be considerable in some cases, customers seem to be willing to pay for it.

    Where the difference is, and where it is not

    The problem with spending additional money to consume so-called healthy products is that it does not seem to make a lot of difference. Those who devote more financial resources to purchasing sophisticated food and to joining health clubs are not necessarily the people who enjoy the best physical condition. Paradoxically, in the field of health, more investments do not always result in additional benefits.

    Making health your first priority is an excellent choice that works best when you implement it as inexpensively as possible. Are you surprised? Does this sound illogical to you? Before you discard this theory, you might wish to check out longevity statistics around the world. Those who spend the most to preserve their health are not necessarily the people who live the longest.

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


    Image by brainware3000 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under

    Thursday, 24 October 2013

    Adopt a lifestyle that suits your temperament. Find an outlet for your talents. Avoid relativism and scepticism. Increase your resilience against adversity. Do not be intimidated by other people's achievements

    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, 23 October 2013

    The 139 best psychology blogs. How to accelerate your self-development and increase your happiness. Effective techniques for overcoming stress, anxiety, and depression. Achieving personal growth and self-reliance

      The 139 best psychology blogs

      Tuesday, 22 October 2013

      The art of staying away from lost causes. What lovers of ancient languages won't tell you. Don't waste time on hopeless projects. The crucial importance of facing the facts and abandoning wishful thinking

      Although thousands of individuals teach Latin for a living, few of them spend time explaining why it became a dead language. If you read about its history, facts are presented as self-evident and no general lessons are drawn.

      The art of staying away from lost causes

      The official version of the story is that, when the Roman Empire was conquered in the 5th century, barbarian words polluted the purity of ancient speech. Foreign influences changed the manner of writing Latin, did away with its grammar, and distorted its pronunciation.

      During the Middle Ages, clerics and lawyers tried to maintain the old language alive, overall with little success. The quality of written Latin deteriorated at the same speed as it was taught to younger generations. The spoken word, undisturbed by grammatical constraints, became approximative and vague.

      By the end of the 16th century, the great language of antiquity was clinically death, although a few volumes were still written and published in Latin in the 17th century. Those relics symbolize man's reluctance to acknowledge tidal changes that disrupt established patterns of thought.

      The expulsion of Latin to the realm of the dead becomes an intriguing question when we compare it with other achievements of the time, such as the laws of Ancient Rome. In contrast to language, the principles of Roman law have survived the passage of time and can be found today in the civil code of numerous European and South American countries.

      While Latin was dead and buried centuries ago, ancient Roman law still permeates our culture and institutions. The logic of modern contracts replicates the arguments of ancient jurisprudence; our court procedures follow the steps conceived by Roman magistrates; our conception of marriage and inheritance is derived from ancient family law.

      What lovers of ancient languages won't tell you

      Causality is the weak point in the official story of the disappearance of Latin. If ancient language was polluted by barbarian influences, so was Roman law. If grammar and pronunciation lost their original purity, so did Roman law. Nevertheless, legal principles survived and Latin is no longer alive.

      A closer look at the facts reveals that Latin did not actually die, but was displaced. It was not destroyed or dismantled, but abandoned. Nobody took active steps to eliminate it from the minds of citizens. People just stopped using it, like a car that is too old to be worth repairing.

      Financiers know that there is a world of difference between a company that is taken over and one that goes bankrupt. The official story is that Latin was merged or transformed into medieval languages. While this aspect is indisputable, it misses an important part of the picture.

      The truth must include the acknowledgement that Latin, like an enterprise that loses customers, went bankrupt. The decline of the ancient language must have begun before the barbarian invasions. Most likely, Latin would have decayed even if the Roman Empire had lasted another century.

      Don't waste time on hopeless projects

      Insolvent companies that blame their difficulties on the market show blindness to the real cause of their financial demise. If competitors have stayed in business and thrived, why did a specific company go bankrupt? Why did Latin wane into oblivion despite all efforts to keep it alive?

      Lovers of ancient languages will seldom give you the answer to that question: Latin was highly inefficient. Left to its own devices, it was unable to maintain itself. Its grammar was calling for simplification. It was too difficult to learn and brought little value to the table.

      Four major languages of our age, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese, are derived from Latin. All four have shed the overcomplicated structure that made Latin so inefficient. The cost of maintenance became to heavy and the old construction fell apart. Like a bankrupt company, Latin collapsed under the weight of its liabilities.

      The ancient language built sentences by adding affixes to adjective and names depending on their grammatical role, gender, and number. In order to create a correct sentence, each name and adjective had to be combined with the right affix. Latin had many different affixes, which varied from name to name and case to case. In contrast, modern Spanish just adds "s" for most plurals.

      Speaking correct Latin required extensive training that few could afford in the Middle Ages. Even with our most advanced learning methods, languages that continue to use numerous affixes for names and adjectives demand great efforts of foreigners who wish to learn them.

      The crucial importance of facing the facts

      Trying to maintain Latin alive was the quintessential dead-end project. Relatively few people were willing to devote resources to the undertaking; its cost far exceeded the capital available. The project was doomed from the start; those who believed that it could succeed were massively unrealistic.

      The ancient language did not die the glorious death of a heroic medieval knight; it perished from starvation and neglect. Its structural inefficiency rendered it unable to compete. History broke it down and scattered the remnants. The clock stopped at a time when it could not be repaired.

      Has the lesson been learned? Have we grown capable of recognizing and avoiding dead-end projects? Anyone willing to recognize mistakes can acquire the necessary knowledge and perspective. Latin is a dead language and rightly so. The next time that someone asks you to participate in a project, make sure that is has a future.

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


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

      Monday, 21 October 2013

      The trap of endless flexibility and the solution of ethics. Productivity is always the first victim of the ensuing decay. Your peace of mind and self-confidence depend on your rational principles

      When you were a kid at school, you probably endured lots of preaching about the virtue of flexibility. Most likely, the moral speeches you heard were accompanied by fulminating diatribes against rigidity. Imprecise is right and exact is boring, you were told. Weightlessness is strength and fragility is solidity.

      The trap of endless flexibility and the solution of ethics

      In terms of ethics, this approach leads to the enthronement of relativism as a moral absolute, which is of course absurd, since when anything goes, fuzziness is portrayed as sharpness, ignorance as information, and confusion as wisdom.

      On the other hand, look at what happens when we turn our attention from theory to reality. When values and commitments lose their contours, life becomes chaotic. If you doubt my words, talk to anyone who has lived for a while in a country where basic principles have been abandoned:

      The stories that you read in newspapers about doing business in unstable countries only reflect a small part of the horror. Without people's willingness to keep their word, society simply disintegrates. Without enforceable contracts, all that remains are shady transactions and an extremely high cost of living.

      Productivity is always the first victim of the ensuing decay

      Once ethics become dispensable, life turns into a race of cheating and abuse. If people begin to question fair, well-functioning agreements that have been long established, everything is up for grabs. When psychological manipulation becomes the currency of the day, any sort of purchase turns into a nightmare.

      Productivity is always the first victim of the ensuing decay. Without honesty, agreements on time, results, and compensation lose all meaning. Reliability and credibility are the best cost-reduction tools in business. When those two disappear, the effort needed to complete any task grows exponentially

      All this is, at the same time, bad news and good news. Even if some people advocate moral relativism, you are not obliged to adopt vagueness as personal philosophy. Even if someone persons around you behave dishonestly, you can decide to stay dependable and truthful.

      Your peace of mind and self-confidence depend on your rational principles

      A wise man seeks compromise in negotiations, but only when essential moral principles are left untouched. Reality is forgiving of innocent mistakes, but merciless with those who twist facts and corrupt their soul.

      Your peace of mind and self-confidence depend on your rational principles. Stick to them and they will show you the way. For the sake of your present happiness and future health, reject the temptation and pass the ethical test. Your decisiveness will be enhanced and your results will improve.

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


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