Saturday, 21 April 2018

Turning what you have into something more valuable

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Centuries of decay followed the fall of the Roman Empire. For generations, fear replaced rational discourse as the primary means of human interaction. In many fields, knowledge remained inaccessible to the great majority of the population. As a result, life expectancy dramatically decreased.

Conditions improved in the 13th century. The transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance opened a wide range of opportunities for talented individuals. Towns attracted tradesmen and merchants, who manufactured utensils, made clothes, and built houses.

In Italian cities, like Florence and Venice, the wealth created by entrepreneurs brought into existence a market for artists. Upward social mobility became possible to an important segment of the population in the time of great Renaissance artists such as Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Developed by choice

In that period, people rediscovered the teachings of Aristotle: "Some talents are innate and others are acquired through practice," wrote Aristotle in the year 328 B.C. "While the movement of animals is governed by the law of cause and effect, the essential characteristic of human beings, rationality, can only be developed by choice."

In our days, despite problems and difficulties, opportunities for personal development have multiplied in many countries to the extent that they are practically endless, making easier for every individual to explore fields in which he is interested, and find his own path.

Millions of men and women are enjoying today levels of prosperity that would have been unthinkable for the wealthiest prince in the Middle Ages. The advent of the internet and the global economy are tearing down barriers to entrepreneurship. We are living in times of economic growth that offer countless opportunities for each person to determine his own future.

The 21st century is the age of the empowered individual. We inhabit an environment where many businesses can be started with negligible upfront investment. Innumerable doors are open to personal initiative and skills, giving each person almost infinite opportunities to find his way to happiness and success.

Business has become international, but the low-cost of internet communication is giving us instant access to all corners of the earth. If you feel short-changed in any way, make a pause and look at things in perspective. If you are lucky enough to live in an industrialised country, you will not lack chances for personal development.

Important accomplishments

The perception that achievement should be immediate (and that otherwise should be regarded as impossible) is fundamentally wrong. Important accomplishments will frequently demand substantial time, as it is the case of building new relationships. It makes no sense to put pressure on the wrong places. Some achievements will take as long as they take. The whole process of reaching complex goals is to be enjoyed, not regarded as a waste of time.

Substantial skills, like learning a foreign language, may require years of effort, but such strech of time remains modest if compared with the human lifespan. Each individual has many years to pursue ambitions goals. If you think that this is not the case, you may want to check your priorities, and reorient your activities.

In moments of pessimism, remind yourself that the digital media are decreasing educational costs for everyone, that information about job openings is available on line, that inexpensive software applications are readily available, and that the cost of incorporating a company remains low in many jurisdictions. Chances are that you have more opportunities than you think.

"Materials and substances are not enough to produce change," observed Aristotle. "The fact that something can be transformed, does not mean that it will. Without activity, there is no motion." Let us devote our days to turning what we have into something more valuable. Let your alertness to  opportunities become your motor of change.


Image: photograph of classical painting -- photo taken by John Vespasian, 2016.

For more information about rational living, I refer you to my books 

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