Saturday, 30 May 2015

How to get a job during difficult economic times

Unrealistic scenarios and promises are counter-productive. When planning our future, we should think twice before trusting exaggerated positive statements. On the other hand, we should also refrain from painting all alternatives as dark and all attempts as hopeless.

A valid approach

Various approaches have been tried against poverty, with different levels of success. Living in an environment of deprivation can undermine a man's spirit and this is why he needs to figure out a feasible plan to improve his situation. What we know is that unrealistic expectations do not work.

If you happen to find yourself living in a poor district of town, you do not need to give up your hopes of a better future. If you are suffering from lack of formal education, becoming bitter is not going to improve anything.

What is needed is to take action to detect and seize available opportunities, but frequently, those can only be perceived when we look at the world realistically. When a man is unemployed or stuck in low-income occupations, he might develop a view of the world that prevents him from seizing his chances.

The opportunity

The conviction that nobody is going to listen to one's troubles does not necessarily correspond to reality. The perceptions that nobody is going to help and that no one cares are contrary to the fact that opportunities, although scarce, do exist.

The great news is that businessmen, generally speaking, like to grow their companies and that this creates sales openings in many areas. The way out of poverty involves the recognition that a man must often take whatever jobs are offered, even if he would have liked to do something else.

Sales work is available almost at any time, irrespective of the overall economic situation, since selling is the most critical business function. Taking a sales position is frequently the only way available to break out of poverty into fields of better opportunity, so here is my advice:

  1. Go to the public library, borrow some books about sales, and study them.
  2. Get a suit and a tie, even if they are second hand, so that you can go to interviews.
  3. Forget about fixed-income jobs and look instead for a sales position.
  4. Ignore those around you who criticize or ridicule your ambitions.
  5. Watch the best-performing salesmen in your company and listen to their advice.
  6. Keep on reading about sales and learn as much as you can about your industry.
  7. Gain experience and become proficient in sales.
  8. Move to a better sales job.
  9. In the future, consider the possibility of starting your own company.
Towards a better life

Taking the future in one's own hands might require discarding unrealistic ideas held in the past. The fact is that some opportunities exist and others are hard to come by. Experience shows that sales work can be the way to a better life, a path that many have successfully walked before.

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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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Look for opportunities and ignore pessimistic forecasts

Stop listening to negative reports and look beyond the headlines. Things will continue to get better overall as entrepreneurs seize the immense economic possibilities of the 21st century. My overall optimism is based on the following factors, that you will find no difficulty in observing yourself.

Base your optimism on facts
First, emigration has become easier than at any previous time in history. Millions of people are moving every year from one place to another to take advantage of the expanded opportunities to exercise their talents.

Sometimes, emigration takes place within the same country (between two cities), but very often, it involves crossing the border between countries. As travel costs continue to decrease and regulations become more flexible, companies benefit from the influx of new talent and workers can find jobs that offer improved economic prospects. In addition to the economic advantage, the contact with other cultures also tends to make people more tolerant and open.

Second, artists can now offer their creations directly to millions of consumers. The tide has turned for creative individuals. If you are a musician, you can now develop your career without having to wait for a record company to give you a break. The same goes for writers, painters, illustrators, composers, and photographers.

Even new film-makers can now make their movies at a fraction of what it used to cost a few years ago. With the help of low-cost digital cameras, free editing software, and internet distribution, many wonderful films are getting made nowadays, films that would have never seen the daylight in previous decades.

Purpose and commitment

Third, the cost of starting a new business has never been so low in history. In some cases, all you need is an innovative idea and the determination to build something from scratch. We live in a world where vision and commitment are more important that the size of your bank account. Money and other resources can always be borrowed if you know how to apply them productively.

The endless possibilities offered by the internet have unleashed human creativity to levels unknown before. You no longer need to relocate in order to have your products designed, manufactured, and sold in other countries. Video-conferences with clients and suppliers all over the world have become virtually free-of-charge. The cost of market intelligence has also been drastically reduced.

What is even better, the time-line for starting a new business has been compressed and shifted. Low-cost software applications will routinely spare new entrepreneurs hundreds of hours of work, and the work that still needs to be done, they can do it during the evenings and weekends.

Look ahead, stay alert

Never before in history have millions of people enjoyed the opportunity of starting their own business while they can still keep their day job. A lower risk for starting new companies means that more companies will be started, making overall economic growth almost inevitable.

For the three reasons above, I believe that the world economy will continue to grow strongly in the next decade. Of course, the situation will not be equally positive in all countries and in all currencies, but so what? Creativity will always flow to places where opportunities exist and this is the way it should be.  

In the US and in some other countries, Kindle Unlimited allows you to download my latest book for free  


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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Coming out a winner despite severe adversity

by John Vespasian

The thesis of this book is that the dominant ideas about how to reduce stress are ineffective because they are irrational. They hardly provide any short- or long-term relief. Reason is the only workable method to relieve stress permanently, a method that requires work and dedication, but provides excellent results.

This book presents many real-life examples that will show you how to eliminate stress in tense situations, bring peace of mind to your life, make choices that enhance your self-reliance, avoid nerve-wrecking inconsistencies, and lead a good life based on reason.

The principles presented in this book are supported by extensive historical evidence, logical arguments, and workable strategies. If you are serious about reducing the stress in your life, this book is for you.

Chapter 1 - The key skill for overcoming negative stress
What to do when problems begin to accumulate
Don't let difficult people get you down
How should you deal with unfairness?
Living happily despite rejection and negative criticism
The essential element for sleeping well

Chapter 2 - No more stress from financial difficulties
Breaking out of a stressful lifestyle
Raising yourself from disaster
Don't make this major mistake if you can avoid it
What you shouldn't do if you value your time
Here is a recipe proven by experience

Chapter 3 - A structured approach for reducing stress
The characteristics of effective remedies
Facing rapid changes and excessive pressure
An unusual method that produces wonderful results
How to reduce your tension by improving your routines
The temptation to do things you don't need to

Chapter 4 -The straightforward way to eliminate conflicts
The man who painted himself into a corner
When situations get out of control
Surviving and thriving in the face of conflict
Long hours don't necessarily lead to success
The most dangerous threat you can encounter

Chapter 5 - Get rid of anger definitively
Don't let this popular nonsense mislead you
Understanding where negative emotions come from
The drop that makes the glass overflow
Eight powerful strategies for reducing anger

Chapter 6 - Learning to overcome discouragement
Don't adopt these counter-productive strategies
How to stay afloat during difficult times
Coming out a winner despite severe adversity
A great formula for leaving discouragement behind

Chapter 7 - How to become immune to sadness
A challenge that millions of people continue to face
The main reason why people feel stressed
Breaking out of pessimism once and for all
Discarding ineffective emotional reactions

Chapter 8 - The end of worry and preoccupation
Serenity amidst poverty and sickness
How to reduce your exposure to emotional fallout
Practical techniques for getting rid of worry
Learning to be optimistic

Chapter 9 - The type of lifestyle that minimizes stress
Do you want to function better?
Here is a lifestyle worth imitating
Overcoming your constraints in a clever way
Never be embarrassed to do the right thing

Chapter 10 - The escape from stressful routines
How to put your dissatisfaction to good use
Bold steps can create exciting possibilities
If you are tired of boredom, here is some advice
The adoption of effective practices

Chapter 11 - Advice for seemingly insoluble problems
When no solutions are in sight
An advantage that you can always create for yourself
Stay away from defeatism and resignation
The critical skill for surmounting daunting obstacles

Chapter 12 - Keeping a clear mind in the face of prejudice
What to do in the face of overwhelming social pressure
Stay alert and don't overlook these threats
Are you inadvertently following a terrible example?
A safe method for navigating dangerous waters

Consistency: The key to permanent stress relief
by John Vespasian

Monday, 25 May 2015

Initiative and inventiveness in times of turmoil

In some areas of the world, the economy is stagnating, inflation is rising and unemployment remains high. As a result, millions of people are seeing their lives disrupted. Those who have recently lost their jobs may have the feeling that finding a new position is going to take extensive efforts and a very long time.

The stock markets are showing daily fluctuations over 3%, an enormous range by historical standards. Some investors have liquidated their holdings in despair and incurred a substantial loss. The current levels of market volatility are testing the faith of the most devoted believers in a better economic future.

Overcoming hesitation

The psychological pressures that accompany these events are considerable. The gloom-and-doom atmosphere that dominates conversations inevitably influences people's decisions. Purchases are delayed and changes are feared. When the future looks dark, hesitation seems safer than action.

Nevertheless, despite all these threats and uncertainties, I remain massively optimistic about the future of the world economy. I am convinced that growth will soon resume strongly and take us to higher levels of prosperity. On which facts do I base my optimistic conviction? Are my positive expectations justified by statistical trends?

Yes, in fact there are lots of positive economic data out there if you care to look for them, and not only in China, India and Singapore. Freight volumes are growing and the same can be said of the number of new vehicles sold. More car sales means more steel production and more jobs. For every negative newspaper headline, you can find plenty of data that predict an upwards trend.

Even so, my purpose today is not to engage a statistical discussion. Facts can be measured, but opportunities need to be discovered. Improvements are what you get when you apply creativity to problems.

Structural factors

For predicting the future, structural factors are more reliable than isolated details. If you know a man's character, you will be able to foretell his destiny with greater accuracy than if you know everything he did during the last two days.

Human creativity, or rather, the increased opportunity to exercise it, provides us a solid ground for forecasting a bright economic future. Like a man's character, the level of personal initiative and inventiveness in the world changes only slowly, but one it gets as good as it is now, chances are that it will stay this way for many years.

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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Sunday, 24 May 2015

The 142 best blogs about personal development

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

Friday, 22 May 2015

Prevent unnecessary conflict and avoid wasting your time

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.

Prevent unnecessary conflict

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 side-walk, 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.

Pay attention to early signals

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.

Discard irrational rigidity

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.

Say no to 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.

Draw the right conclusions

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.

In the US and in some other countries, Kindle Unlimited allows you to download my latest book for free  


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Monday, 18 May 2015

In praise of difficult and disruptive ambitions

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.

Boring goals aren't good enough

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

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

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


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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Check the facts and question your assumptions

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.

Ignore over-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?

No more gloom and doom

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

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 limits on 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, take 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.

Make yourself deaf to nonsense

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. 

In the US and in some other countries, Kindle Unlimited allows you to download my latest book for free   


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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Four ancient principles to protect your health today

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.

The greatest physician of Antiquity

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:

Vegetables, fruits, and herbs

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.

Do 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.

Maintain a good balance

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


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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Discard the fallacy of "pay-more and live-longer"

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. 
A top priority 

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.

The crucial difference

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. 

In the US and in some other countries, Kindle Unlimited allows you to download my latest book for free  


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Thursday, 7 May 2015

The art of staying away from lost causes

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.

Relics of the past

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.

The official story

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

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.

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


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Sunday, 3 May 2015

The trap of endless flexibility, the solution of consistency

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.

Say no to relativism
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.

Ethics are indispensable

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.

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


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Friday, 1 May 2015

Acquiring better habits pays off handsomely over time

Overcomplicated prescriptions discourage individuals from taking action to improve their lives. Through the years, I have read a large number of health books that offered unworkable advice. The theories that they espoused were confusing and often contradictory. Their recommendations proved, on many occasions, too impractical or expensive to implement.

From each of those books, all that I retained were a couple of conclusions. The effort of reading hundreds of pages was not wasted, since I have implemented many of those ideas with good success. The following twelve habits have served me particularly well. I like to think that I owe them, at least in part, the good health that I enjoy.

1. Wholeness

Choose whole-grain products: The reason for this is that whole grains contain beneficial minerals, vitamins, and fibre that are not present in white flour. Indisputably, white-flour products, such as pastries, look more inviting to the eye than those made of whole-grains, but the latter are much better for your digestive health because they contain more natural fibre. Explore the shelves of your local supermarket and, in the next weeks, try different whole-grain products to see which ones you like best.

2. Immunity

Drink green tea: From all herbal infusions, green tea contains one of the highest percentages of polyphenol, a natural substance that helps strengthen your immunity, and combat bacteria and viruses. Apparently, green tea also has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system because it helps decrease low-density cholesterol.

3. The right level

Minimize your sugar consumption: eating sugar, which is highly pleasurable, increases glucose levels in your blood. That phenomenon leads your pancreas to produce additional insulin and your liver to produce triglycerides, which cause your cells to age prematurely. Obesity, which has taken epidemic proportions in some countries, is often linked to excessive sugar consumption.

4. Balance

Consume salt sparingly: Too much sodium in your diet has an adverse effect on your body because it tends to raise blood pressure. In addition, excessive salt consumption disrupts the sodium-potassium balance in your cells, leads them to multifunction, and accelerates ageing.

5. High quality

Choose high-quality proteins and fat: fish, in particular oily fish such as salmon, contains first-class protein and fat for the human body. The benefits of abandoning red meat and, instead, consuming fish regularly can result, within weeks, in a better complexion.

6. Strength

Eat some nuts every day: they contain poly-unsaturated fats and selenium, which are both excellent for human health. Selenium, in combination with vitamin E, has been proven to strengthen our immune system. It helps combat viral infections and keeps our heart, liver, and pancreas healthy.

7. Stability

Maintain a stable weight: this is extremely easy if you are a disciplined person and almost impossible otherwise. The best way to attain this goal is to have a scale at home and check your weight regularly. As soon as you see it deviate from your target, simply adapt your diet during the following week until your weight returns to the desired level.

8. Serenity

Set limits to stress: define in advance how much you are able to do. When your hours are full, you know that you cannot take any additional burden without first removing some item from your previous to-do list. Write things down and do not let problems linger in your head. As soon as you decide to drop an activity, cross it out from your list.

9. Reduced risk

Consume tomatoes regularly: they are available at affordable prices in most areas and they are excellent for human health. Tomatoes, which are an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, contain a natural substance called lycopene that helps protect our cells. Studies have shown tomatoes to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

10. Prevention

Eat fibre every day: vegetables and legumes contain fibre, an element that cleans our digestive system and helps stabilize glucose levels in our blood. Fibre also plays a role in preventing diabetes, appendicitis, and colon cancer. Whole grains are an excellent source of fibre.

11. Simplicity

Walk at least half an hour a day: you don't need to kill yourself with exercise in order to enjoy its benefits. If you are too busy during the day, try to find time in the evening to take a brisk walk. This simple exercise does not require sophisticated equipment and can be practised in most places, even if your work requires you to travel frequently.

12. System 

Eat garlic: amongst its many benefits, garlic enhances our immune system and helps lower blood pressure. The effects of garlic to combat sickness were already known in antiquity. Modern studies have confirmed its powers to fight viruses and bacteria, as well as its ability to lower blood sugar levels.

13. Transformation

Discard the idea that you are going to change your lifestyle overnight. Despite extraordinary success stories shown on television, almost nobody is able to do that. The key to improving your health is to acquire better habits. Fundamental transformation takes substantial effort.

From time to time, your progress will relapse and you will fall back on previous patterns. View those as opportunities to renew your commitment to change. Acquiring better habits is a strenuous undertaking that pays off handsomely over time.

One day, after you have rebuilt your life around a wholesome diet and regular exercise, your new routines will have become so ingrained that you won't consider living otherwise. Your increased vitality will be there for all to see and for you to enjoy, hopefully for many decades to come.  

In the US and in some other countries, you can use Kindle Unlimited to download my latest book for free 


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