Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Don't devote your worthy hours to speculating about undefined psychological factors and arbitrary theories. Instead of speculative advice, choose the wisdom of rational action

When someone is looking look for a job, he sends his resume around, replies to advertisements, and finally, he gets invited to interviews. Being the employment market what it is, candidates are rejected in nine out of ten cases. A week after the interview, they receive a phone call informing them that another applicant has been chosen to fill the open position.

Don't devote your worthy hours to speculating about undefined psychological factors

Sometimes, there is a good reason why another person has been selected for that post, but a certain element of randomness influences a large proportion of hiring processes. On many occasions, the choice cannot be rationally justified and one should not waste time trying to figure out mysterious reasons that do not exist.

An element of arbitrariness is not foreign to those cases, as it happens in countless human activities. Why did you buy this make of car and not that one? Would you repeat that purchase today? How did you come to choose your family doctor? Do you remember how you met each of your best friends?

What is surprising is people's reaction to failure and rejection. Chances are that the candidate who has not been selected for a particular job will get to hear from his family and friends that he should improve his attitude, manners, clothing, hairdo, and who knows how many other aspects.

Salesmen who go through a difficult period also get served a menu of motivational speeches and meetings to discuss their attitude. In other professions, such as sports, acting, or management, the story runs a parallel course. The problem, you will be told, is in how you see the world.

Instead of speculative advice, choose the wisdom of rational action

Well, luckily, this is not true. Motivation and attitude play a certain role in performance, but their importance should not be overemphasized. If you pause to think for a second, you will realize that the professionals whom you most trust don't seem to be excessively driven or motivated.

What you expect primarily from your doctor, lawyer, plumber, or car mechanic is not that they are greatly inspiring, but that they do a good job and deliver competent service. Action is what we want to see. Service is what we want to receive. Predictable, rational action is one million times more valuable than attitude and motivation.

Action is the essential factor that gets things done, sold, and delivered. The candidate who has not been selected for the job should not spend too much time wallowing in self-recrimination about what he could have done better. If he can draw some useful lesson for the future, so much the better, but in most cases, a failed interview was just a sale that didn't close.

Don't devote your worthy hours to speculating about undefined psychological factors, arbitrary theories, and nonsensical advice. Professional salesmen know that, given enough time and effort, they will find more customers. Watching, hoping, and talking seldom help. Only relentless effort can bring you closer to success.

Athletes are motivated when they compete, but in the end, it is their past training what usually determines who will win the race. Instead of speculative advice, choose the wisdom of rational action. Let others wonder if the world should be this or that way. Move on, redouble your attempts to reach the place you want to be, and let your actions speak for themselves.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Putting yourself in a position to be creative, productive, and remarkable. How to use each day for your personal growth. The best policy to ensure good human relationships, prosperity, and dignity

The 16th century was a period of extraordinary conflict and violence. Disputes about religious and territorial matters divided the population in factions engaged in continuous wars, persecutions, and torture. Luckily, not everybody fell prey to the dominant ideas of the time and a few men taught us lessons that we should strive to keep always present in our mind.

Putting yourself in a position to be creative, productive, and remarkable

The French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) is one of the most interesting personalities of that time. We would probably never have heard of him if he had been more successful in his profession and businesses, or one should rather say, if he had attempted to become more successful.

After learning Latin, the most widespread language at that time in Europe, and receiving some basic training in jurisprudence, Montaigne spent more than a decade as secretary of different legislative councils and courts of justice in the south of France.

Later on, he resided for a while in Paris, but he was clever enough to realize that his natural aversion to lies, flattery, and pretence made him unsuitable for a lifelong career as civil servant. When he turned 38 years of age, in the middle of one of the worst periods of religious conflict in France, he decided to abandon his career and retire to a farm in the south of France.

How to use each day for your personal growth

What followed during the next 15 years was a memorable attempt at living life according to nature and common sense. Everyday, Montaigne would devote the necessary effort to his farming activities, but not with the purpose of expanding his wealth, but simply to ensure his subsistence and that of his family.

For the rest, Montaigne set himself the goal of reflecting about the good life and writing down his thoughts as he went along. Surrounded by the books that he had accumulated in the previous decades of his life, he wrote continuously during his forties and early fifties.

The best policy to ensure good human relationships, prosperity, and dignity
While his neighbours in the south of France took sides passionately in favour of some ideological faction or other, Montaigne always called for moderation, pleaded for peace, and recommended tolerance as the best policy to ensure good human relationships, prosperity, and dignity.

Montaigne's essays were published in successive compilations, which he corrected and edited further, until he was happy with the result. The principles of common sense, prudence, tolerance, moderation, and learning from experience, permeate his whole writings, from beginning to end.

Since the 16th century, other thinkers have tried to establish the principles of the good life, but few have equalled Montaigne's erudition and literary skills. For those who, in our age, seek to learn how to live in accordance with Nature, Montaigne's essays are, more than four centuries after his death, still a delight to read.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Trust only your own statistics. The way to independent thinking. Relentless initiative creates opportunities. Concentrate your resources on essential tasks. Entrepreneurship is the opposite of resignation

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

Carpe diem, the philosophy that gives you nothing and takes you nowhere. Happiness requires sustained effort, focus, and a good amount of stability. The virtues a man needs, he has to earn them himself

The Latin expression "carpe diem," which can be translated as "enjoy the day," has been elevated to a main component of our culture. The most popular interpretation goes as far as recommending people to "live for the day." This advice comes often accompanied by sneering remarks about those who save for the future.

Carpe diem, the philosophy that gives you nothing and takes you nowhere

The sad story of artists and athletes who make a fortune and end up bankrupt a few years later is told by newspapers with monotonous frequency. The message seems to be that there is no other way or, even worse, that human beings are unable to learn from someone else's disgrace.

Nevertheless, an objective assessment of the problem shows that the great majority of middle-class citizens in any country never go bankrupt. This is not a coincidence, but the proof that self-discipline and common sense are widespread in society.

The horrid reports about financial irresponsibility that one sees on television represent conspicuous exceptions to the prudent mentality of millions of working men and women. This is not a new phenomenon and, without much effort, we can find traces of similar events in previous centuries.

The liquidity crisis that took place in London in the year 1826, almost two hundred years ago, was very similar to what we have experienced in the initial decade of the 21st century. Thousands of investors lost their fortune, including many famous personalities, such as the Scottish novelist Walter Scott.

You might know Walter Scott from his historical novels, such as "Ivanhoe" and "Rob Roy," which belonged to the the best-selling books of his time. If Scott had adopted the discipline of living within his income, which was considerable, he might have enjoyed longer and certainly healthier years.

Happiness requires sustained effort, focus, and a good amount of stability

Unfortunately, he overextended himself by investing in ruinous printing and publishing ventures, as well as by purchasing a large extension of land and building a majestic residence. When the businesses in which he had invested went bankrupt in 1826, he still had to face massive personal debts, that he was unable to reimburse.

During the next years, he worked frantically, trying to write more books to pay off his debts. His health deteriorated rapidly and, finally, he died in 1832, physically and financially exhausted, when he was only 61 years old. Was it worth it that he had incurred huge personal debts in order to build a mansion? These are some lessons to draw from such stories:

  1. Live below your means.
  2. Save some money every month, even if it is a small sum.
  3. Take insurance to cover critical risks, such as major surgery or invalidity.
  4. Conduct your business or profession in a prudent manner.
  5. Choose slow but safe growth over wild and risky expansion.
  6. Diversify your investments amongst many different assets.
  7. Stay away from profligate individuals or businesses. Their tales seldom have a happy end.

The virtues a man needs, he has to earn them himself

The virtues of foresight and saving constitute the backbone of civilized society. Despite the negative stories presented by the media, millions of working men and women possess the habit of planning for the future. In fact, their prudent conduct and the ensuing peace of mind are what render them uniquely able to "enjoy the day."

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

Thursday, 26 December 2013

How to get established with no background, no connections, and very few resources. The method that addresses all those problems simultaneously

In the last five decades, management thinkers have reflected and debated on how to increase the effectiveness of organizations. Different theories have been put forward, argued, and often withdrawn. Even nowadays, only a couple of management precepts enjoy universal acceptance. The bottleneck principle is one of those few.

How to get established with no background, no connections, and very few resources

This rule predicts that the positive short-term benefits of any action will always be the greatest when efforts are focused on removing a bottleneck from a process. For instance, when the production of furniture is being slowed down by assembly difficulties, such bottleneck could be removed by using a simpler fastening procedure.

This formula has been applied successfully thousands of times to speed up manufacturing and service operations. On the other hand, its application has been rare in the field of marketing and sales. In general, entrepreneurs find easier to create new products than finding customers willing to purchase them.

Selling water to thirsty tourists in the desert places you in the ideal marketing position. In that context, you would be able to charge a high price and hardly hear complaints from customers. The reality that most businesses face in our age is precisely the opposite. Large numbers of players compete in each market and customers have become increasingly difficult to reach.

If we try to apply the bottleneck principle to sales, we are going to face, first of all, the question of identifying the critical problem. In the example of furniture manufacturing, we were able to see the assembly difficulties. In contrast, when it comes to marketing, the primary obstacle frequently remains invisible and might consist of any of these cases:

  1. Lack of credibility in the marketplace.
  2. Potential customers are unaware that a solution exists to their problem.
  3. High perceived risk of purchasing an unknown product.
  4. The advantages of the product are difficult to explain.
  5. General scepticism of potential buyers about anything new.
  6. Established suppliers dominate the market although they make inferior products.

The method that addresses all those problems simultaneously

Luckily, there is one sales method that addresses all those bottlenecks simultaneously. Giving free product samples and service demonstrations has become the marketing system of choice for new products in the 20th century and promises to maintain its prime status in the foreseeable future.

You will not have to seek long to find evidence of this phenomenon. Software programmes are installed and run without charge for six months. Novel delivery services offer you vouchers to transport your packages at no cost for a week. Exotic restaurants invite you to try out their menu without having to pay the bill.

The system of free samples can be practised in dozens of different ways. Complimentary demonstrations of new products and services provide the best proof of their value. Whatever your field of business or professional activity, if you are not already using this sales approach, you may be missing one of the most powerful tools for acquiring new customers.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image by La case photo de Got under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

How insomnia warns you about necessary changes in your life. Problems are opportunities for self-development. Focused action is the best approach for attaining peace of mind. Rational solutions are the only ones that work

Sleeping pills have become an everyday accessory in modern society. In Europe or America, Asia or the Middle East, rare is the bathroom closet that does not contain some pharmaceutical product to induce slumber. The solution has become so commonplace that few dare to question it any more.

How insomnia warns you about necessary changes in your life

How did we arrive at such widespread social acceptance of chemical dependence? Certainly not because sleeping pills provide a fully satisfactory solution to the problem. If given a choice, the great majority of insomniacs would prefer to find a remedy for their condition that does not involve using chemical substances.

Sleep difficulties, like any other health problem, can be treated by addressing its cause or its symptoms. Herbs and pharmaceuticals focus on the symptoms of insomnia. Their goal is to replace the natural process of falling asleep by a chemically-induced slumber that lasts a few hours.

Addressing the cause of insomnia is a much more demanding undertaking, since it requires introspection and personal growth. Contrary to what you might have heard, most people usually have little trouble figuring out why they cannot sleep well. Leaving aside environmental aspects such as noise or an uncomfortable bed, the most common causes of insomnia are these four:

  1. An unpleasant job: too boring or too demanding, poor pay, too long hours, high risk of redundancy, an aggressive supervisor, nasty colleagues, professional health risks, excessive stress or fatigue, continuous travel, and so on.
  2. Financial worries: for instance, excessive debt, poverty, investment losses, imminent mortgage foreclosure, risk of bankruptcy, difficulties to collect from debtors, negative cash flow, or being involved in litigation.
  3. Family or personal conflicts: spouse with antagonistic values or interests, betrayal, exploitation, or abandonment, dealing with hostility or discrimination, social isolation, or lack of friends who share the same values and interests.
  4. Health problems: facing heart surgery, awaiting results of critical tests, getting old, suffering from debilitating illness, cancer, or invalidity, extreme overweight or underweight, and any other serious medical condition.

Problems are opportunities for self-development

At any given time, most of us will be going through one or several of the above-mentioned situations. Since problems tend to succeed each other at an amazing speed, one will never lack excuses to resort to sleeping pills. Nevertheless, in each case, we will be much better off by using philosophy to achieve serenity.

The antidote to insomnia is peace of mind. No other alternative, cure, or remedy can address successfully the cause of sleep difficulties. All other options have failed and serenity is the only one that works. What is the process of acquiring and maintaining peace of mind? Which steps should one take?

Eliminating anxiety and stress permanently is equivalent to modifying the structure of a house. Such fundamental change can be carried out, but only with care and little by little. If done properly, it will not weaken the building. The resulting edifice will offer additional space and a more pleasant environment to live and rest.

Focused action is the best approach for attaining peace of mind

Dozens of self-help books propound auto-suggestion as the key to achieving success in life. Even if that promise proved true, would it also put an end to insomnia? Let us not forget that sleeping well is a direct consequence of achieving peace of mind, which must come from consistent thinking. For this reason, I submit that the best way to attain serenity and a good sleep at night comprises five elements:
  • Identify your most important problem and write it down.
  • Find out who has solved a similar problem satisfactorily and how he did it.
  • Study the solution, adapt it to your life, and make a detailed plan.
  • Start implementing the plan right away by taking the first step.
  • Follow up your progress and remind yourself daily that you are on the track to recovery.

A dramatic example will illustrate the process. Imagine an individual who has just been diagnosed with cancer. He is told that his illness is in a beginning stage and that he has sufficient time to explore different treatments with good prospects of recovery. On hearing the news, his anxiety mounts and, at night, he has difficulties to sleep.

Such situation leaves little doubt about what your most important problem is. Taking sleeping pills, assuming that they are not contraindicated for cancer, may help you get a few hours of rest, but will not reduce your preoccupation during the time you are awake.

The rational approach starts with gathering information about available treatments, reading success stories, and possibly talking to some of those who have recovered. Once you choose a path of action with reasonable chances of success, you will begin to turn your worry into uncertainty.

As you learn more details about the treatment, your mind will progressively consolidate a schedule of events. You will know what you have to do, at which time, and the results that you can expect. In parallel, your general mood will improve. Your newly-found positive anticipations will lead to regained self-confidence.

Rational solutions are the only ones that work

Implementing your plan, tracking your results, and making any necessary adjustment in your actions, will in most cases reduce your anxiety and stress. This process should naturally lead to better rest at night without need of sleeping pills. In addition, you will be now equipped with a higher level of self-reliance that should benefit all areas of your life.

Does it sound difficult? No wonder, because few endeavours are as demanding as changing our fundamental patterns. A victory over insomnia without resorting to sleeping pills usually results from facing effectively a major problem in our lives, whether professional, medical, or in relationships. May your success be uncontested so that, after a while, you will remember all this just as another milestone in your personal growth.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

The blogs about psychology and personal development

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

    Wednesday, 25 December 2013

    Christmas should not be a justification for immobility. People who embrace major personal changes come from all walks of life. Are you considering taking an unconventional path? Merry Christmas to all readers

    Millions of people spend their days trying to convince themselves that change is impossible. They feel trapped by their profession, job, spouse, friendships, or financial obligations, to the extent that any attempt at improving their situation seems destined to fail. Time goes by and, after a while, they give up all hope of amelioration.

    Christmas should not be a justification for immobility

    There are many reasons to experience such feeling of being driven by external events. If you look around, you might find some justifications for immobility, but do not let them make you feel powerless. The truth is that, every year, thousands of people throughout the world undertake such fundamental changes. Here are some examples:
    1. Sell their house in the city, move to a village on the coast, and build up a new life there.
    2. Drop out of their current circle of friends from one day to the next and seek out people with other values or interests.
    3. Go through their kitchen, throw away all unhealthy items, and commit to purchase exclusively wholesome food in the future.
    4. Look for a job in a field unconnected to their previous experience.
    5. Buy a bicycle and ride it every day for an hour.
    6. Unplug their television set, throw it away, and never spend another minute watching TV.
    7. Learn a foreign language and find a job in another continent.
    8. Cancel their affiliation to an organization that has been part of their lives for decades and cut off links to former associates.
    9. Liquidate their assets, move to a tax heaven, and change their nationality.
    10. Throw away all tobacco and alcohol that they have at home and never purchase or consume those again.
    11. Start up their own business during evenings and weekends, while keeping their present employment.
    12. Study nutrition, learn to cook, and lose any extra weight that they have accumulated over the years.
    13. Tell your spouse that you want a divorce, move to another place, and start building a new life.

    People who embrace major personal changes come from all walks of life

    These cases are not as rare as you may think. People who embrace major personal changes come from all walks of life. Middle-aged or old, male or female, they hesitate long until, one day, they make the decision. Their determination to take a new road frequently antagonizes family and friends, who find their old expectations undermined.

    It takes enormous courage to embark on this sort of journey. More often than not, what moves individuals to alter essential elements of their existence is the realization of the limited time they have. This may happen as a result of a major illness or simply because they outgrow their previous living conditions.

    Have you redefined your long-term objectives? What aspects of your life do you wish to improve? Stepping out of our routine and taking a few days to reflect might be the initial step. Are you considering embarking on a major change or taking an unconventional path? Should that be the case, let me wish you a wonderful Christmas day.

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Tuesday, 24 December 2013

    How to reduce stress, in particular at Christmas time. A technique for gaining an overview and taking decisive action. The best method for accelerating your personal development. Merry Christmas to all my readers

    Experienced managers tend to focus on a few key parameters that tell them how their business is doing. Seasoned investors proceed in a similar way. Since they know the kind of opportunities they are looking for, they are able to discard unsuitable investment proposals after checking a couple of critical figures.

    How to reduce stress, in particular at Christmas time

    No one can take correct decisions without knowing which elements are important. Gathering huge amounts of data will prove useless if complexity cannot be reduced to manageable levels. 

    What you need are simple graphics or tables that show you how you are doing presently and what the trend for the future is. This is a technique that can help you reduce stress, in particular during the Christmas period, when so many things seem to come together at the same time.

    When it comes to running your own life, could you reduce information to a small number of factors? Is it possible to simplify reality to such an extent? Can a few numbers suffice to express your level of happiness? Can we isolate the crucial components of our existence and make projections for the next decade? Here are some examples:

    1. The general condition of your health.
    2. Income from your main business or activity.
    3. Overall level personal freedom.
    4. How many close friends you meet regularly.
    5. The size of your bank account and other liquid assets.
    6. Level of satisfaction with your home and living environment.
    7. How you rate the non-monetary aspects of your principal occupation.
    8. Happiness derived from your spouse and other family relationships.
    9. Overall perspectives for personal growth.

    A technique for gaining an overview and taking decisive action

    If routine fills most of our days, we should not allow random events to eat up the little free time we have available. Becoming conscious of the status in each area of our life and pushing for improvement requires substantial effort. Reducing situations to fundamental numbers can contribute to remind us where we stand and where we want to go.

    More often than not, one or two figures should be enough to identify the issues closest to our heart. Even when we deal with immaterial elements, such as the non-monetary aspects of a business or profession, we should force ourselves to come up with a number.

    Let us establish, for instance, where we are today on a scale from zero to ten and where we want to be in a year from now. In a similar way, trainers encourage overweight people to track their slimming progress by means of a simple graphic.

    The best method for accelerating your personal development

    The sheer exercise of decomposing our life into its main constituents can prove highly beneficial. Turning observations into numerals may, for example, allow latent irritation to be verbalized. The first time that someone takes the time to write all this down frequently results in a couple of surprises.

    In fact, if you can figure out the way to do it, the only number that you need to watch is your overall happiness index, where it stands today and how to extend the years you have left in order to raise it to the highest level. And with this, I wish all my readers a great Christmas.

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Monday, 23 December 2013

    Overcome pessimism and discouragement. Establish a foundation for long-term achievement. Learn to view problems in perspective. Increase your resilience against adversity. A change of speed might be all you need

    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

    Saturday, 21 December 2013

    The teachings of Maimonides: How to stay healthy and happy. A good health is a prerequisite of personal growth. An invaluable element of effective living

    The principles of preventive medicine have remained practically the same for centuries. The idea behind those guidelines is that individuals, barring birth defects or misfortune, should stay healthy if they lead a balanced life. Sickness is an exceptional status arising from wrong behaviour or from wounds received in combat or by accident.

    The teachings of Maimonides: How to stay healthy and happy

    In Antiquity, Hippocrates formulated the precepts that a man should follow in order to maintain a good condition. In the Middle Ages, Maimonides compiled and commented Hippocrates' writings, confirming their effectiveness. Here is a summary of those principles:
    1. Ensure proper rest everyday at least for eight hours. (Sufficient rest is of crucial importance for preventing stress, anxiety, and depression).
    2. The ideal sleeping time is between sunset and dawn.
    3. A man should not eat more than he strictly needs.
    4. Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided.
    5. The most healthy drinks are water and wine.
    6. Bowels evacuation should take place at least once a day.
    7. Fruits, legumes, and nuts should be eaten regularly.

    A good health is a prerequisite of personal growth

    Beyond those basic rules, other prescriptions of Maimonides have also been confirmed by modern medicine as highly beneficial. For instance, the recommendation that a man should sleep on his side instead of lying on his back or face. In our age, a common remedy against back pain consists of sleeping on the side, with one leg stretched and the other in the foetal position.

    Another guideline from the Middle Ages encourages eating small fish. During the last decades of the twentieth century, this prescription has been confirmed by marine biology studies. Apparently, in areas of the sea polluted by chemicals, large fish, due to their size, are more likely to be contaminated than small sardines or anchovies.

    Amazingly, even the contemporary exhortation against saturated fat finds some precedents in Maimonides' writings. Nine hundred years ago, although the chemistry of the different types of fat had not yet been discovered, olive oil was already being recommended as a healthy food. At the same time, man was being advised against eating old cheese.

    An invaluable element of effective living

    Most of the great physicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages spent a good part of their lives working for kings and princes. This fact explains why, in their writings, they placed so much emphasis on recommending a balanced life as the best way of preventing disease. 

    Nowadays, when workers are wealthier than ancient monarchs, such advice remains as valuable as in the times of Maimonides. A good health is a prerequisite of personal growth and an invaluable element of effective living.

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Friday, 20 December 2013

    How to deal effectively with situations of unfairness. Circular thinking leads to stress, anxiety, and depression. Choosing happiness and personal growth instead of anger. What is the rational response to unfairness?

    Unfairness is everywhere and, if you care to look, you will detect more than your equitable share. Some people are born in the right environment, others possess powerful connections, inherit better looks, or simply draw the lucky number in a lottery.

    How to deal effectively with situations of unfairness

    Occasionally, your valuable work won't be appreciated and, instead, people will praise worthless nonsense. You may at times have to endure discrimination or ostracism, with the accompanying financial drawbacks. Disappointment, self-pity, and envy are frequent reactions to those situations.

    Those negative emotions result from complex thought processes, which are as widespread as they are illogical. Imagine, for example, the case of an inexperienced person who is appointed to a high position within a bank thanks to his family connections to the detriment of a much better-qualified candidate.

    Circular thinking leads to stress, anxiety, and depression

    What will be the feelings of the person who has seen his rightful expectations evaporate in a cloud of unfairness? On the one hand, irritation and perhaps anger. In addition, discouragement or even depression. Finally, envy, together with an overall sensation of futility. Let us examine in detail the thought sequence that generates these feelings:

    1. The open position should be filled with the most competent candidate.
    2. The people who will make the choice should strive to identify who the best candidate is.
    3. The selection should be made exclusively on the basis of rational criteria.
    4. People should display extra care when they make such crucial decisions.
    5. When someone makes important choices for an organization, he should not let himself be influenced by personal interests and family connections.
    6. Since I am the best-qualified candidate, I should obtain the appointment.
    7. If a less experienced person is selected for the job, that would constitute a terrible injustice.

    Choosing happiness and personal growth instead of anger

    The ideas described above seem irrefutable at first sight, but they fall apart if we subject them to rational examination. In reality, we all know that some people carry out their duties in an exemplary manner while others are as negligent as you can be. For every person who possesses a strong sense of justice, how many will you find who prefer to look the other way?

    Even if you happen to be the best-qualified individual for that particular job, how much of that is the result of luck anyway? If you are reading this, I bet that you have not been born in appalling poverty, deprived of access to basic education, and neglected by your parents to the point of near-starvation. Do take a minute to assess if at least part of your success is the result of pure coincidence or good fortune.

    My point is not to state that everything is relative, which is not. Equally, I am not trying to tell you that you shouldn't have ambitions, which you should, by all means. What I am arguing is that envy, a deep feeling of misplaced disadvantage, is mostly a logical illusion.

    In a world where millions of people are ignorant, thoughtless, and driven by nefarious ethics, what sense does it make to focus on the unfairness of the day? Lamentations and wishful thinking can bring about certain psychological relief, but they are essentially a waste of resources.

    What is the rational response to unfairness?

    The rational response to unfairness is not envy, but relentless action. Given sufficient time, intelligent persistence tends to weigh off the influences of inheritance and chance. In our example, the person who has not been chosen for the job would do better to put on a good face and start to look around, discreetly, for a better position for himself at a rival bank.

    Your time on earth is limited and should be used promoting your own cause in front of rational, fair individuals. For what concerns other people's mistakes, prejudice, or arbitrariness, you will be better off if you shrug your shoulders and move on. In the long-term, life often has its own funny ways to settle accounts without your intervention.

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

    Image by szatmar666 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us

    Thursday, 19 December 2013

    Why ignorance of economics generates great amounts of stress and anxiety. A factor that will enhance your happiness and accelerate your personal growth. Are you placing too much emphasis on the wrong things?

    Thick books full of equations deter most people from learning economics. The suspicion that there might be something wrong with the whole science is not unfounded. Otherwise, if economists are so knowledgeable, how do you explain that most of them are not wealthy?

    Why ignorance of economics generates great amounts of stress and anxiety

    Every course on economics begins with the law of supply and demand, which is considered the baseline of the science. This principle teaches that consumers buy fewer units when prices are high, but that on the other hand, when prices are low, for the same amount of money, you can get much more.

    Since people have been acting in this way since the beginning of time, one might wonder if such wisdom justifies the cost of taking an economics course. My answer is decidedly positive. No matter how simple principles look, their applications demand subtlety and can lead to many blind alleys.

    When it comes to applied economics, the most important paradigm is not mathematical. Understanding it can help you make better decisions and, above all, avoid many traps in your private and business life. 

    A factor that will enhance your happiness and accelerate your personal growth

    Mistakes in this respect can easily lead to great amounts of stress and anxiety. If you choose to study only one thing about economics, let me suggest that you learn to tell the difference between consumption and investment. Learning this difference is likely to enhance your happiness and accelerate your personal growth.

    First, investments are not characterized by a high acquisition cost. A large house on the beach that you buy to spend your summer holidays every year can be expensive, but is not an investment, since it does not produce you any income. In comparison, a small low-cost apartment that you rent out to tenants does constitute an asset.

    Second, investments are not defined by their long durability. A refrigerator that you purchase for your kitchen may last 10 years, but does not generate you any income. Such acquisition is not an investment. In contrast, a set of liquor glasses that may last 3 years is an investment if you buy them for use in your restaurant.

    The lesson is that the aspect that creates the distinction between consumption and investment is psychological. Classifying buildings automatically as investments without considering their purpose may lead to wrong decisions and expensive errors.

    Are you placing too much emphasis on the wrong things?

    The fundamental economic difference between assets and expenditure lies in the use that we give to items, not in the accounting rules regarding depreciation and tax deductions. A laptop computer to play video games is a consumption item, unless you get paid for playing those, for instance, because you write reviews for a video-games magazine.

    The consequences of this principle are wide-ranging and encompass all fields of our lives. Being conscious of the difference can help you, for instance, to buy your clothes more efficiently, to discard worthless investment proposals quickly, and to reduce the cost of starting your own company.

    Misunderstanding what truly constitutes an investment results in the waste of enormous sums of money every year. Do not fall into that trap. Not every big-ticket item is an asset and not all inexpensive purchases are consumer goods. When you make decisions, you will be much better off if you weigh each element according to its veritable nature.

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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

    Tuesday, 17 December 2013

    Why happiness is impossible without a good amount of stability. Personal development depends on persistence as much as it depends on creativity. The key is not how many projects you start, but how many you finish

    Imagine that you have been born with amazing talents that allow you become anything you want. On the one hand, your unparalleled mechanical abilities can serve you to start up an engineering company whose innovations would be sold around the world. On the other hand, your extraordinary knowledge of anatomy can secure you a place amongst the best physicians.

    Why happiness is impossible without a good amount of stability

    In addition, your talent for drawing and composition can allow you to become an internationally-renowned artist and produce hundreds of paintings that would be avidly purchased by collectors. All doors are open to you and the whole world is at your feet. Powerful men seek your friendship and everybody respects you.

    To make things even better, Nature grants you a reasonably long life so that you can accomplish as much as possible. You get to live 67 years and enjoy an overall good health. You are born in a country that offers wide opportunities and your family encourages your initiatives.

    How much would you achieve in your lifetime? Would you concentrate your energies on one field? Or would you rather change occupation every few years? Which goals would you set for yourself? Would you choose a profession or business that allows you to accumulate a quick fortune?

    Two weeks after your 67th birthday, your time is up. You find yourself terminally ill and look back on your life to see how much you have actually accomplished. When you count your material assets, you realize how little you possess after decades of work. When you review your output, you feel shame about how few tasks you have actually finished.

    Personal development depends on persistence as much as it depends on creativity

    At that point, you cannot help thinking that you have wasted your life. What will remain after you are gone? Why did you squander your talents in conjecture and speculation? You have started many projects, but abandoned most of them half-way.

    With trembling voice, you dictate your last will. Since you never married nor fathered any children, your few possessions are to be divided amongst servants and friends. The house where you are about to die is not yours either. When you close your eyes for the last time, you beg for extra time to complete all that you have left unfinished, but now, it is too late.

    Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) died in a house that the King of France had lent him. His last will, which was published after his death, names his meagre possessions. His wealth amounted to a few books, a small estate in Milan, some money, and a few paintings. Not much for someone who many regard as the most talented man who has ever lived.

    Except for a few dozen paintings, Leonardo da Vinci rarely finished anything he started. He made copious notes about inventions that never took off the ground. He spent two years making drawings to illustrate an anatomy book that was never published in his lifetime. He also made designs for churches that were never built.

    The importance of having a constant purpose

    If you have a talented son that leads his life in imitation of Leonardo, your patience won't outlast your disappointments. You will come to regret your son's inability to focus on a specific field and advance his career. You will also have to endure the sight of your son's being surpassed in honours and wealth by others who possess less talent but more determination.

    Reality is structured in a way that rewards constant purpose. Zigzagging can be psychologically rewarding, but seldom leads to extraordinary achievement. Even highly talented individuals need time to acquire expertise and establish themselves in the market. Customers pay for finished products and services, seldom for preliminary designs.

    When you study History, you will hear great things about Leonardo da Vinci. Art teachers will tell you about his genius as a painter, physicians about his prodigious knowledge of human anatomy, and engineers about his visionary design of a flying machine.

    Fair enough, but if you look at all those projects with the eye of a tax accountant, you will be forced to classify most of them as "work in progress." My point is that, if Leonardo da Vinci lived today, he would probably attain only modest success.

    In our century, innovation and competition are fierce in every field. Artists, scientists, physicians, and inventors never rest in the age of internet. The global economy guarantees that someone, somewhere is about to overtake your achievements or your company.

    There is so much to learn in every field that contemporary professionals rarely engage in unproductive ventures. The market wants reliable products and services. Nobody cares if you are a genius. What counts is whether you are able to deliver value to paying customers.

    More often than not, zigzagging slows you down and wastes your opportunities. The difference between Leonardo da Vinci and his contemporary Raphael da Urbino (1483-1520) provides a striking illustration of this principle.

    The key is not how many projects you start, but how many you finish

    Raphael, one of the most talented painters in History, only lived 37 years, but authored more than a hundred paintings. In contrast, Leonardo, who lived to become 67 years old, only produced a few dozen works. How many other brilliant paintings could Leonardo have created if he had focused on this line of activity?

    Leonardo spent his life moving from one project to another. At 28, he interrupted his work on his painting "St. Jerome" and never found time to finish it. At 29, he went to Milan and abandoned in Florence his half-way completed painting "Adoration of the Magi," which he never retook.

    At 40, Leonardo obtained a commission for an equestrian monument in Milan, but the project also remained uncompleted. Leonardo did manage to produce a clay model of the horse, but by the time he was ready to cast it in bronze, his client decided to use the bronze to manufacture cannons.

    Long-term achievement demands a consistent purpose. If zigzagging ever leads to success, it will be of sort duration. Personal efforts go farther when they are compounded by time. Each step of a career consolidates yesterday's accomplishments and prepares the next. Constant improvement requires a good level of stability.

    Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

    Image by Richard0 under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us