Sunday, 5 October 2014

How to deal with anxiety and depression

Here is a summary of the questions that I have answered this week:

QUESTION: A young man  feels hopeless about life and cannot see what step to take next. 

ANSWER: No sweat, you can dramatically improve your situation in a couple of months if you work persistently in a focused manner. The pillar for the turnaround is that you study rational philosophy and develop a healthy self-confidence. Then you will be able to see the next steps, since you will see opportunities that now you cannot perceive. For starters, you will quickly abandon the idea that everybody must have some special talent. Don't give up. With some effort, you can turn your life around, and attain levels of happiness that now you cannot even conceive.

Facing adverse circumstances

QUESTION: Someone feels so forlorn and discouraged, that he wonders why he is still alive. 

ANSWER: When someone is facing adverse circumstances, it is perfectly normal that he questions the meaning of life altogether. Luckily, human beings are extremely resilient, both physically and psychologically. You can improve your life pretty quickly if you focus your efforts on the main problem. All other problems can be solved later, one by one. Most people would focus on developing some marketable skills and finding a job. Then you can see further and continue to improve your situation. Just keep going, and ignore people who tell you that you are going to fail. If you keep going day after day, you will eventually do very well.

QUESTION: A young man complains that the routine of a job, vacations, and hobbies is not enough to make him feel alive. He believes that something important is missing in his life. 

ANSWER: It is great that you have discovered that you are not contented with just having a job, going on vacation, and going through the same routine over and over again. When someone starts asking these kind of questions, it usually means that he is ready to look for a deeper meaning. My recommendation is that you study rational philosophy and read some history. The more you know, the clearer you will see. Eventually, you will reach a point when you will decide to make dramatic improvements in your life. Congratulations, you are on the right track.

Rational living, rational working  
The critical question in life

QUESTION: A young man has a good job, but feels bored, and does not know what to do with his life. 

ANSWER: Happiness is the purpose of life, while sex is the origin of conception. It is very positive that you ask yourself about your long-term plans, since having lifetime ambitions plays a major role in personal happiness. For most people, those long-term plans are of professional or business nature, but they could also involve long-term creative goals, relationships, or other endeavors. My suggestion is that you spend a weekend walking in the woods or in the mountains. You will get many good ideas, more than you can use in a lifetime. Keep going. You are asking the right questions. You just have to take the next step.

QUESTION: A man who is 66 years old says that he is unhappy, and that he cannot see how to regain his interest in life. 

ANSWER: Nowadays, I don't think that 66 years old can be described as an advanced age. Most people live until their mid-eighties, and very often until their mid-nineties. You have still twenty, maybe thirty years ahead of you. Since you have time on your hands, I would suggest that you embrace one or two activities that interest you. Something that you find fascinating. If you cannot name one such activity right away, you just need to experiment a bit until you find it. Develop a new passion, maybe new skills. Once you start on that way, there will no stopping you. Twenty years from now, you will look back and you will be amazed how much you have achieved, and how much you have enjoyed yourself.

QUESTION: A young man feels depressed, and cannot figure out how to solve his problems.

ANSWER: You can quickly overcome your problems if you focus on facts, not on other people's opinions. The key to a rapid turnaround of your situation is to develop a rational philosophy, a consistent view of life. This will require you to read some books, but this is a small effort compared with the benefits that you will draw from it. The second step is to focus on the things that you want from life. By things, I mean career, skills, friendships, relationships, achievements, and so on. Once you realize that you can dramatically improve your life by taking determined action, you will improve your situation extremely fast. Just keep going and don´t give up.
Rationality is the way to happiness 

On becoming fearless

QUESTION: A young man wants to know how he can become fearless, how he can develop his personality. 

ANSWER: You can only remove fear little by little, by progressively expanding your reach. The development of psychological resilience is very similar to the development of physical strength. You start doing simple exercises and, little by little, you put more strain on your muscles. If you want to become socially fearless, start conversations with random people in the street. If you want to become a dating machine, start conversations with any interesting women you meet. And so on. It takes a while, but with some practice, you can become extremely self-confident, which is a great ambition to have.

QUESTION: Someone asks how he can figure out what to do with his life. 

ANSWER: By asking the question and actively seeking an answer, you are already ahead of most people. Only 1% of the population pursue long-term goals. The other 99% have either given up, or have never taken the trouble to steer their life towards a specific objective. My suggestion is that you take long walks on weekends, and try to figure out what you want to achieve in life, not only professionally, but also in other areas. You might need a few weeks to get a clear idea, but this is perfectly fine. It will be time well invested, and the rewards will be substantial.

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


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

The 10 Principles of Rational Living