Saturday, 27 September 2014

Building self-confidence in a hostile environment

I am always amazed at people's willingness to believe nonsense. This willingness seems almost infinite, virtually universal, and does not know any limits or restrictions. How is it possible that millions of individuals endorse ideas that are manifestly false? Who is forcing them to adopt strategies that are obviously doomed to fail? This is not a rhetorical question, but a major practical issue. You have to realize that those who support false ideas are not only contributing to their own demise, but also causing trouble for other men and women.

When people find themselves in deep trouble, it is usually because they have made some large mistake in the past, a mistake that needs to be recognized and remedied. Of course, when someone finds himself enmeshed in deep problems, it is not the right moment to engage theoretical discussions and make unproven recommendations.

Before problems become overwhelming

Yet, if you wait until your problems become overwhelming, you run the risk of getting severely hurt, financially, physically, and psychologically. Unfortunately, people will all too often begin to address their concerns only after those have reached a critical level, and have become almost unmanageable.

It never ceases to astonish me that so many individuals are ignorant of the basic principles of self-protection, and instead, they prefer to adhere to invalid ideas that are convenient in the short term, but disastrous for the future.

It goes without saying that self-inflicted blindness never delivers good results. Waiting for catastrophes to happen, and then trying to reverse them is a horrible way to live. In contrast, wise men learned long ago that disasters should rather be avoided, dangers averted, and crises prevented.

If you ever find yourself in a critical situation, you have to employ your resources to overcome immediate threats, and at the same time, make sure that you draw the right conclusions from the story, and learn to protect yourself in the years to come.

When everything  fails, try this 

A hugely underrated discipline 

Self-protection is a hugely underrated discipline. When people speak about self-protection, they usually mean a set of skills for close physical combat, or the practice of martial arts such as judo or karate. Those are very narrow conceptions of self-defence, conceptions that render the term almost useless. If you limit the concept of self-defence to learning to fight in the street, you turn the whole idea into something ridiculously dangerous.

Besides, even if self-defence is crucially important to get you out of dire situations, it plays even a more critical role in helping you avoid those situations in the first place. When it comes to self-defence, the kind of expert that is worth listening to is precisely the one who never engages in physical combat because he systematically succeeds in avoiding aggressiveness.

You definitely don't want to learn self-defence from someone who spends his weekends quarrelling with drunkards, fighting juvenile gangs, or engaging in other kinds of irresponsible behaviour. Aggressive people should not be your role models for learning how to protect yourself.

The role model you need

Instead, you should be learning self-protection and conflict prevention from people who know how to stay out of trouble. The principles you can learn from those experts are going to help you stay safe, and overcome whatever problems you might be facing.

Conversely, the kind of expert that teaches you to kick your opponent between his legs is making you believe that it's a good idea to engage in physical combat with aggressive people. My contention is that such an approach to self-defence is not only impractical today, but suicidal in the long term.

Wise individuals do not conceive self-defence as a set of techniques for fighting at close range, but as the science of staying unharmed, no matter what. From this perspective, the best fighters are the ones who discourage enemies from attacking, and systematically steer out of trouble.

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

[Text: copyright John Vespasian, 2014]

[Image: photo taken by John Vespasian, 2014.]

The 10 Principles of Rational Living

Self-development against all odds

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