Monday, 28 November 2016

Rationality provides the ultimate advantage

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Human action produces the greatest benefits when it is focused on providing rational solutions to critical problems. A wise man uses logic to determine which difficulties are to be addressed with priority. He applies his energies to overcome major obstacles and ignores small inconveniences. 

Positive results

Given sufficient time, logic and consistency produce positive results. A rational approach to living gives you the ultimate advantage in the fields of investment, health, career, or relationships. Barring extreme bad luck or misfortune, ethical actions lead to happiness.

The easiest way to accelerate your personal growth is to concentrate your efforts on the area of your life where problems are most pressing. Successful managers apply this strategy to their businesses. For instance, when assembly difficulties slow down production in a furniture factory, the solution might call for simpler designs.

You only have one life to enjoy and it is up to you to decide which path to follow. Assess your situation objectively, placing facts above prejudice. Ignore empty promises and select your best alternative on solid grounds. 

Do not waste time

Do not waste time trying to impress people who do not care for you. Discard nonsense and embrace logic. Design your strategy according to reality. See what works well in the world and identify the keys to prosperity.

Complaining and wishful thinking are ineffectual. Ambitious goals can only be achieved through thoughtful plans and consistent implementation. Psychological balance can only be maintained through rational values and a sense of purpose.

Sound principles are as beneficial as they are demanding. Irrationality may seem comfortable in the short-term, but contradictions ultimately result in failure. Individuals determine their own future by their passion to turn dreams into reality and their logic in the choice of means. 

Resilience and persistence

No matter how experienced you are, mistakes are inevitable. Reason brings resilience to passion and persistence to ambition. A wise man is not intimidated by difficulties. He sets goals and plans how to accomplish them. If barriers are too high, he will try to circumvent them. If the price is too expensive, he might look for alternatives.

Entrepreneurship epitomizes the rational approach to living. Innovative spirits do not ask if they can attain their objectives, only how. Creative minds are always looking for better options. Originality is an essential element of success. Productiveness is a fundamental ingredient of happiness. 

The key to self-reliance

Rationality enables self-reliance and logic sustains motivation. Do not allow lack of capital to stop your dreams, nor lack of contacts, nor massive ridicule. Seek out thoughtful, benevolent human beings who appreciate what you have to offer. Build your future around them and happiness will ensue.

History recounts the same tale again and again. When difficulties arise, scepticism turns into discouragement and irrationality into fear. Pragmatism leads to counter-productive actions and confusing results. Without a long-term perspective, problems soon strike the ship under the waterline. 

A fully human life is impossible without thoughtfulness. This principle is universal. It knows no exceptions. No one can escape it. Learn from experience, abandon wishful thinking, and embrace a philosophy that works. Rationality, determination, and consistency are the essential factors of happiness and prosperity. Let them carry the day.


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

For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books 
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Monday, 21 November 2016

Eighth book by John Vespasian published today: Thriving in difficult times - Twelve lessons from Ancient Greece to improve your life today

Thriving in difficult times - Twelve lessons from Ancient Greece to improve your life today



Chapter 1 - The deadly mirage of continuity
Biological systems are non-linear
An important lesson from Teophrastus
How the riddle of the sphinx was solved
Lost techniques recovered after fifteen centuries
The wisdom of Greek merchants in Alexandria

Chapter 2 - Prejudice is harder than stone
Did Aesculapius speak out the truth?
A place to avoid at all costs
How to avoid repeating Cassandra's mistake
A strong warning from Ajax and Niobe
Why one man was killed, but another one was spared

Chapter 3 - The charms of biological imprecision
Probabilities are good enough as a guidance
Oedipus was unusually unlucky, but chances are you won't
Archimedes' pointless search for precision
How Antisthenes justified the importance of virtue
A good ending for Antigone: the philosophical lesson

Chapter 4 - Disruption is the big destroyer
Why Plato wrote about Atlantis: a point you shouldn't miss
The correct conclusion from Prometheus' story
Why there were few slave revolts in Ancient Greece
Demosthenes saw it coming: a crucial teaching
The phalanx strategy worked fine, but only for a while

Chapter 5 - The high cost of low alertness

The danger of getting used to bad situations
What Socrates was aiming at in his philosophy
Are you expecting Pleidippides to fetch some help?
The mistake that did Polyphemus in
Homer's heroes provide a compelling answer

Chapter 6 - Use your resources wisely
How a bunch of Greeks destroyed the mighty Persian fleet
Why the Spartans cultivated their most precious skill
The Amazons invented resource cannibalisation
Hector was pushing his luck to the limit
There is only one Adonis, but many potential brides

Chapter 7 - The soft way to produce strong results

Why harsh, rigid solutions are dangerous
Aristophanes' educational humour
For Draco, everything was black or white
Neither Lysander nor Alexander saw the end of the path
Penelope's cleverness delivers good results

Chapter 8 - How to forget about your problems
Zeno's simple formula for happiness: do and let go
Warning: stay away from Ares and Eris
Epicurus and the mindset of atarxia
Diogenes tells you to be self-sufficient
The hoplites' equipment was to a large extent defensive

Chapter 9 - Every system needs balance

Anaximander figured out that things come in pairs
Why the Parthenon's columns are not perfectly cylindrical
Posidonius' views on human irrationality
The dangerous imbalance created by Pericles
How Orestes got away with murder: ethical considerations

Chapter 10 - Principles are more reliable than beliefs
The correct diagnosis calls for the correct treatment
The universe is predictable, says Plato in Timaeus
Euripides' warning: stay away from violence
The persistent value of Greek coins: a justification
How much Cleobis and Biton got paid for their efforts
Achilles repents of his heroism: a major lesson

Chapter 11 - The dangers of unbridled optimism
Don't let Circe's tricks turn you into a pig
Are you planning to take refuge in a sanctuary?
Beware of prying into Aeolus' leather-bag
Only Amalthea was blessed with the cornucopia
Dedalus, the archetype of the practical man

Chapter 12 - The solution is called pronoia, not paranoia
The power of Hippocrates' soup and Dioscorides' herbs
Thucydides warns you against wild emotionality
Aristotle provided the tools, but will you use them?
Why Strato had no qualms about contradicting Aristotle
Philoctetes and the crucial ingredient


Recommended reading

Thriving in difficult times - Twelve lessons from Ancient Greece to improve your life today

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A realistic view of human nature can spare you endless troubles

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Few skills will add as much value to your life as the ability to avoid aggressive individuals. In any population group, irrespective of geography and cultural background, you will find at least 1% of persons that can constitute a serious threat.

Disorderly minds defy logic

The reasons for their aggressiveness might be of transitory nature, such as a mild depression caused by financial difficulties, or might be deeply ingrained in their personality. If you possess a generous spirit and feel inclined to comfort those men and women, please make a pause and think twice. Your actions, however well-intended, risk making things worse.

Your willingness to help is commendable, but effective aid is only possible if your actions can improve the situation. If your assistance cannot bring about positive change, it will only cause irritation.

A realistic view of human nature calls for utmost circumspection when dealing with aggressive individuals. Disorderly minds defy logic. Without specialized expertise, it is difficult to determine the severity of someone's troubles.

Approaching those persons and intervening is seldom advisable. The risk of committing an error is too high, since they might interpret your friendly words as threatening and increase their hostility. Take heed of my advice and keep away from dangerous people.

An effective strategy

An effective strategy for dealing with aggressive individuals comprises two elements, namely, detecting and averting them. When you walk into an unknown territory and find yourself surrounded by a crowd, how can you recognize signs of potential trouble?

No matter where you work, you should never trust available security measures blindly. There is simply no guaranteed way to exclude the troublesome 1% from a large group of people. It is up to you to stay alert and ensure your own safety.

Early warning signs

How will you be able to tell who constitutes a threat? The following four signals are clues that you can use to detect dangerous individuals. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you should be able to remark these behaviours when they occur:
* Threatening movements
* Repeated involvement in fights
* Irrational rigidity of attitudes or views
* Use of offensive or hurtful words
None of these factors is determinant by itself and each of them might denote other problems. Your goal, however, is not to pass judgement on strangers, but to protect yourself from danger. Aristotle considered prudence of crucial importance because this virtue ensures that you will be able to continue to play the game of life.

How should you react once you have identified a potential source of trouble? Trust your senses when it comes to detecting danger, but let your brains determine your course of action. Use your initiative and creativity to avert difficulties.

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 examples:

Unusual movements

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 sidewalk, 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.

Unexplained conflicts

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.

Irrational rigidity

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.

Abusive words

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.

A better alternative

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 men 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.


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

For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books
Free subscription to
The John Vespasian Letter