Saturday, 6 April 2013

Make your personal safety one of your top priorities. Do not volunteer giving any personal details to strangers. Save regularly, create a reserve fund for emergencies

Anyone who tells you that you should always be yourself under any circumstances does not have your best interest in mind. On the contrary, placing yourself in difficult situations for no good reason will prevent you from enjoying life and leave you little energy to develop your talents. Being authentic is great, but not at any cost.

Make your personal safety one of your top priorities

When it comes to pursuing your dreams, you will be much better off if you do it the right way. Minimizing your psychological and financial dependence on other people's opinion is a prerequisite for being able to make your own choices without fearing dire consequences. My point is that it is perfectly rational to avoid confrontation in situations from which you cannot walk away.

Increasing individual independence from third parties' opinions is such a fundamental skill that it should be taught at school. The idea that only millionaires possess the means to speak out their mind is false, although unfortunately, such an argument is frequently invoked to favour conformism. The truth is that everyone can take steps to protect his privacy and integrity. In my experience, the following two strategies are particularly useful:

Do not volunteer giving any personal details to strangers

There is little advantage in providing details of your private life to strangers, colleagues at work, employers, suppliers, or anyone who does not belong to your circle of close friends. Why should you give anyone the opportunity to use that information against you or the power to manipulate you in anyway?

Rudeness is unnecessary to protect your private life and, to prying questions, it is often wise to give a vague reply. In most cases, people will accept your reluctance to provide personal details and change the subject.

Save regularly and create a reserve fund for emergencies

Accumulating a financial cushion will do wonders to protect your peace of mind and personal freedom. The temptation to engage into doubtful business or professional practices can hardly tempt a man who possesses enough savings. He will be able to used those to quit his job and spend a couple of months searching for a new position.

Nobody needs to be a millionaire to be able to do that. The real bedrock of self-confidence is not magic or make-belief, but financial foresight. If you save regularly every month, it should not take you too long to accumulate a financial cushion that can take you through a rough period in your professional life.

Make the decision to bring your dependence on other people's opinion down to a negligible level. Find polite ways to show your determination to protect your private life. It is easier than you think and it will save you lots of problems down the line.

Establish a reasonable monthly savings goal for yourself and stick to it until you reach your desire level of safety. By adopting these simple measures and implementing them consistently, you can substantially enhance your well-being, peace of mind, and happiness.

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


[Image by Ross Elliott under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

Only 3% of the population read books, so what? Three factors that make books irreplaceable. Presentation of well-argued minority views. Access to complex ideas

It happens every spring, but this year, the questioning has been particularly intense. Every month of April, on occasion of the London Book Fair, newspapers publish articles speculating if it still makes sense to publish books.

Only 3% of the population read books, so what?

At the turn of the 21st century, one thousand book titles were published for every feature-length film made. Today, the ratio is one to six hundred. The number of films produced every year has increased and, at the same time, the number of published books has diminished.

"We live in a visual world," sociologists argue. "In many areas, the written word is becoming a relic of previous centuries." Media analysts blame the trend on video-games and portable DVD players. Others simply say that reading requires too much effort after our long work schedules.

Three factors that make books irreplaceable

In my view, those commentators are missing the point completely. Despite the abundance of cheap visual entertainment, readers' motivation remains strong. The reason why people read books has nothing to do with the demands of society and everything to do with individual psychology.

1. Presentation of well-argued minority views

Visual media, due to its structure and economics, is unable to express minority views in a consistent, intellectual manner. In this respect, all has been tried and all has failed. Complex ideas cannot be transmitted without the written word. No photograph and no film can replace a chain of reasoning built in clear sentences.

2. Access to diverse, complex ideas

Films, television, and radio, despite the growing number of channels, can only thrive when they aim at large audiences. They can offer multiplicity in the multitude, but no original ideas. Digital video has reduced the budget necessary to make a film, but not the distribution costs. Actors, good lighting, and a decent soundtrack are still expensive. Books, on the other hand, can still be published and distributed cheaply.

3. Direct contact with innovative reasoning

In a film, special effects cannot cure the problems of a weak scenario. Even great acting is unable to sustain a filmed story that doesn't make any sense. How long ago is it since you saw a really thought-provoking film? How often do you gain deep insights from watching television? The written word remains the ideal means to transmit innovative ideas.

The good news about reading is that three per cent of the population still remain avid readers. One out of thirty-three is not a bad proportion at all. A strong audience for writers is still there and it is not going to become smaller in the foreseeable future.

Do people read internet blogs for the same reason that they love books? Is it because they want to read original ideas? Do they do it in order to enjoy some fresh writing? I suspect that, for most, the main drivers are the joy of discovering something new and a steadfast refusal to join the other thirty-two.

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


[Image by jucanils under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]