Tuesday, 17 October 2017

How to develop a sound psychological armour: Two techniques for increasing your mental resilience

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When you are out there looking for the right person to share your life with, you should remind yourself that maintaining your balance and self-esteem is going to put you ahead of the game. "A wise man should not fear losing anything in life as long as he is able to preserve his peace of mind," taught the Roman philosopher Epictetus.

When it comes to dating, each of us can easily make a list of unpleasant situations that we would rather avoid in order to keep our tranquillity. For instance, most men and women would consider themselves happier if they could avoid dealing with nasty people altogether. The same preference applies to averting unwanted criticism. Last but not least, wouldn't your days be easier if you never had to comply with silly social conventions?

The crucial element in successful dating is rational persistence. The question is how you can sustain your motivation long enough to achieve your romantic goals. Indeed, looking for a soul mate would be less complicated if you could keep all those inconveniences away, but let's face it, the world is not going to turn into paradise tomorrow morning.

Minimize your annoyance 

Negative personal interactions are particularly aggravating during dating, since romance seekers who invest themselves heavily in their search are often going to put their egos in the line of fire.

The good news is that you can minimize your dating annoyances if you grow a thick skin, that is, if you become more philosophical about life. Learn to enhance your psychological resilience, and the knowledge will serve you well for the rest of your life. The techniques are not difficult, and you can learn them on your own. During your dating adventures, you will have ample opportunity to test the validity of these techniques.

One can only wonder why mental resilience is rarely taught at school. Every elephant in the savannah knows the importance of growing a thick skin for protection against weather inclemencies, viruses, and infections. In the same way, human beings need to develop a sound psychological armour against the inevitable frictions of life.

As Epictetus observed, "some men find joy in fishing and others in hunting, but there is no greater pleasure than living your days with serenity."

Two useful techniques

Which techniques can you use to build yourself a psychological protection layer as thick as elephant skin? In the case of dating, my choice of methods would go towards cultivating deliberate slowness and purposeful indifference. Let us see how these two techniques work.

When you meet new people with romantic purposes in mind, some of your new acquaintances will be great, others will leave you cold, and a few will personify everything that you dislike in a human being. If you are attending a formal social event or have been invited for dinner by friends, you might not wish to leave right way, but on the other side, you really don't want to spend all evening in conversation with obnoxious strangers.

In those cases, adopting a strategy of deliberate slowness can work wonders. By the way, this is an approach that you can take to defuse many exacerbating social situations. Deliberate slowness is the ideal defence mechanism on those occasions when someone is verbally distressing you or bothering you at a party.

Should you find yourself in that situation, the perfect way to play is to remain calm. Instead of arguing and reacting with indignation, you can pretend that your brain needs hours to absorb the simplest information, and just stall. Very often, people will succumb to their own impatience, rate you as a hopeless bore, and leave you in peace.

The second technique, purposeful indifference, requires longer practice, but its field of application is much wider. Occasionally, during the dating process, you won't be able to escape nasty, unfair criticism either from friends, family or strangers. Don't let them ruin your day. Remember that it is great that people are free to express their opinions even if they don't know what they are talking about.

Put on your poker face, say that you take note of their comments, and move on. As soon as you are away from the scene, shrug your shoulders and don't let anxiety take control of your mind. Reserve your energies for the next date, where you might meet someone who is right for you.

Looking for a soul mate is difficult enough. Do not allow yourself to be affected by nonsensical remarks from other people. Take advantage of your dating experiences to develop a thick skin. In addition to facilitating your search for love, you will be acquiring an invaluable asset.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image: photograph of classical painting; photo taken by John Vespasian, 2017.


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

 
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Monday, 2 October 2017

Six situations where you should gladly overpay

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Frugality enables a better life by allowing you to choose. Instead of spending your resources on everyday consumption, you can decide when it is opportune to make extra expenditures. Normality seldom justifies extra expense, but sooner or later, everybody faces a difficult period that demands extraordinary exertions.

If you acquire sensible financial habits, you will be able to accumulate savings to cushion adversity and misfortune. However, a judicious management of your resources should not entail counter-productive economies. What you want is to apply your financial reserves to those areas where they are most needed.

In general terms, there are six situations where you should gladly overpay, namely, to acquire long-term assets that generate revenue, to solve serious health problems, to correct critical mistakes, to protect yourself and your possessions, to learn new skills at great speed, and to obtain performance guarantees. Let us review these points one by one.

First, acquiring long-term assets that generate revenue. The principle applies equally to real estate, company shares, or annuities. Choose high quality even if you have to pay more. In the long-term, prime properties will earn you more money and spare you preoccupations.

When buying a house, be willing to increase your budget in exchange for a better location. When investing in the stock market, select shares of well-managed companies with a long history of profitable operations. In those cases, you will eventually be glad that you agreed to pay more initially.

Second, solving serious health problems. Any doctor can help you cure a common cold. You do not need to pay extra money to address a minor sickness whose treatment offers little difficulty. On the other hand, if you are severely ill, you should be willing to spend as much as necessary to recover your health.

If your insurance does not cover a vital treatment, figure out how you can pay for it yourself. If necessary, liquidate your investments and sell your house. Even if you have to cross the ocean, you should go to see the best doctors. The purpose of frugality in trivial purchases is to allow you to overspend when the need arises.

Third, correcting critical mistakes. If you are in business or professional practice, a time might come when you will commit an important error. Those who take initiative inevitably make mistakes, since those constitute an essential ingredient of success.

Having committed a serious error represents the type of situation for which you want to keep sufficient financial reserves. Acknowledge the problem and find out how you can fix it. Be willing to overpay for a quick solution that puts an end to the story. That will be money well spent. Learn your lesson and move on to the next project.

Fourth, protecting yourself and your possessions. The principle applies to physical and digital protection. For instance, if your house is located in an isolated area, you should invest in a state-of-the-art security system. If you are going to place your savings on a bank account, you should select a financial institution that offers a high level of internet security.

Do not assume that someone else has your protection as first priority. If you can benefit from security provided by third parties, be thankful for it, but stay alert nonetheless. Saving money in the field of personal protection can be counter-productive. If necessary, be ready to overpay in this area.

Fifth, accelerated learning of new skills. Specialized expertise is expensive, in particular if you need to acquire it quickly. However, if you have the possibility to get your dream job on the condition that you learn a new language, you should be willing to invest a good part of your savings in accelerated learning.

Ideally, you should try to take your time for difficult learning projects, so that you can figure out an inexpensive way to carry them out. Nevertheless, sometimes you'll have no choice. Chances come and go, often requiring immediate action. If the opportunity is worth it, you should view your learning cost as an investment.

Sixth, obtaining performance guarantees. If you have never experienced the inconvenience of repairs on a big-ticket item like a car or a refrigerator, your might not be aware of the immense value of warranties and performance guarantees. The cost of spare parts and manpower to fix a problem can be staggering.

Quality manufacturers tend to offer longer warranties for their products. Do not hesitate to pay more if you can benefit of extended coverage for your new vehicle or washing machine. In the long term, those warranties may save you substantial sums, let alone headaches.

Remain unwavering in your commitment to save money on unimportant purchases. Overpaying for everyday merchandise is unnecessary and wasteful. Instead, devote your savings to investing in your future and attaining peace of mind.

Critical problems demand swift reactions. Those are the kind of situations that justify paying more in exchange of quick service or extraordinary expertise. A discerning man knows how to separate normal purchases from pressing needs. Reduce your expenses on the former and build your financial strength to deal successfully with the latter.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image: photograph of classical building; photo taken by John Vespasian, 2017.


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

 
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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Philosophy serves no purpose if it does not help improve your life

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You can easily tell dead-end projects by the massive opposition they generate. If your initiatives create high resistance, stress and anxiety, it might be wise to reconsider your strategy. Some products or services are just impossible to sell at a profit, even if they could greatly benefit potential customers. People choose to ignore whatever conflicts with their convictions.

Entrepreneurs are conscious of the fact that markets possess sensitivity and taste. If you try to impose your views on customers, you will fail. If you try to sell what people find misplaced, your attempts will produce only irritation and waste.

Prosperity and happiness require loyalty to principles and practicality in the implementation. Only fools start fights where everybody loses. Logic and consistency are worthless without a workable plan. Philosophy serves no purpose if it does not help improve your life.

A practical question

The question is how to accomplish demanding goals while remaining loyal to truth. The story of Roger Williams (1603-1683) provides powerful inspiration about how attain success and well-being by minimizing confrontation, in other words, by taking the path of least resistance.

Williams was born in London at a time when religious dissidence was often punished with death. As a child, he witnessed the public execution of members of minority movements. Those tragic events shaped his philosophy and turned him into a highly effective advocate of tolerance and individual responsibility. Williams definitely refused to allow adversity to keep him down.

After his ordination as protestant priest, Williams got married and emigrated to America. When he arrived in Boston, he was 29th years old. He gained employment as preacher in one of the local churches and began to promote his ideas of tolerance and respect of religious minorities.

His parishioners, who favoured a strict line of thought, did not appreciate William's views. Soon after, he faced a difficult choice. If he refused to conform his ideas to public expectations, he would lose his position. If he remained loyal to his philosophy, his reputation would be damaged and no other congregation in the area would be willing to hire him.

Principles and values

He attempted to find steady employment in Salem and Plymouth, to no avail. Churchgoers in those cities liked Williams' opinions as little as those in Boston. He consulted his wife, Mary, and learned that she was pregnant. An upcoming baby constituted a strong reason for Williams to try to keep his position even if that meant sacrificing his ideals. What would you have done in such a situation?

Choosing the path of least resistance requires, in the first place, that you determine your principles and values. Random decisions do not lead to happiness, especially if they are motivated by fear. A wise man identifies his priorities before assessing his options. Our goal should be to find the alternative that can accomplish our objectives with minimum opposition.

Williams analysed his possibilities carefully. On the one hand, he could renounce his views and keep his job. On the other hand, he could give up his ambition of establishing himself in America and return to England. None of those alternatives was satisfying. Instead, he opted for a third choice, the path of least resistance.

With his pregnant wife on trail, he left Boston, purchased some land from the Narragansett Indians, and established a new settlement that he called Providence. Williams' philosophy of tolerance and self-reliance soon attracted entrepreneurial minorities of all sorts. As a result, his land became one of the most prosperous American colonies.

The two alternatives that he had rejected were dead-end projects. If he had kept his position in Boston, he would have continued to receive a regular income, but only at the price of betraying his ideals. If he had returned to England, his destiny would have not been much different.

Finding a better way

In retrospective, William's decision to establish a new settlement was the obvious path of least resistance. He had seen the consequences of intolerance in England and was convinced that there was a better way. He suspected that thousands of people thought the way he did, minorities of all sorts, entrepreneurial individuals who only wanted to be left alone to lead their own lives.

Instead of disputing the views of his Boston parishioners, Williams walked away. Instead of wasting time on bitter debates, he opted for building a workable alternative. Instead of trying to impose his views on disgruntled opponents, he decided to spend his life with those who were naturally on his side.

The success of Providence during the following decades provides an impressive example of the benefits of rational decisions: increased cooperation, tolerance, goodwill and self-reliance, all accompanied by growing industry, trade, and productivity.

In addition, Williams' peaceful relations with the neighbouring Narragansett tribes led to mutual understanding. In 1643, he published a handbook on the language of American Indians, which he hoped would improve communication and exchanges between frontier communities.

The next time that you are faced with a similar situation, why don't you adopt the same strategy? Write down your values and priorities. Identify which elements are essential to your happiness. Discard options that don't fulfil your fundamental requirements. And amongst the remaining choices, choose the path of least resistance

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image: photograph of classical fountain; photo taken by John Vespasian, 2017.


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

 
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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Dealing with the unpredictability of personal development - The importance of steady, focused work


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"The principle is one, but its manifestations are many," wrote Chinese philosopher Cheng-Ha a thousand years ago. If we had to establish the simplest possible formula for maximizing happiness, it would probably contain just one instruction. In fact, a single word would suffice: growth.

Some authors define self-development as becoming more of what you are and reaching for more ambitious goals. In pure biological terms, growth implies dilatation or enlargement. Paralysis, most of the time, involves some form of pathology. Stasis is equivalent to death.

Increasing one's ability to live is the fundamental driver for animals and plants. For humans, extending our breadth and depth of experience is the only goal that can be all-encompassing. If you are looking for a permanent and comprehensive recipe to make the best of your life, growth is all you need.

How personal growth takes place

The unpredictability of personal development is what makes it difficult to pursue it successfully. Growth frequently takes place in areas where it is least expected. On the other hand, concentrating all efforts on developing a certain skill might, paradoxically, constrain overall personal growth.

How does self-development actually take place? In which way can it be facilitated? Why must each man follow a different path towards personal growth? These questions have occupied psychologists for years. Here is an answer that you can use:

When you learn a foreign language, your knowledge does not increase following a precise pattern. By memorizing 20 new words per day, your ability to communicate does not expand at a fixed rate, for example, at 1% per day.

Even with sustained study and practice, your progress will now and then stagnate. Sometimes, you will even forget words that you had already learned. Finally, after extensive effort, one day, you will reach a point where you can speak that language fluently.

Still today, despite decades of research, there is no guaranteed method to achieve growth. Some focus on a limited set of skills and try to develop them to perfection. Others prefer to learn bits and pieces on various subjects and put them together in original ways.

Steady, focused work

Using commonplace elements to produce unexpected combinations is a great development strategy. Breakthrough ideas result, on many occasions, out of curiosity rather than from the organized approach of research laboratories.

Experience shows that understanding the varying speed of self-development can help increase one's peace of mind. Pushing the human body beyond its capabilities does not accelerate, but hinders healthy growth. Do not try to run too fast, and make sure not to carry too much weight.

The important lesson is that taking daily steps in your chosen field is the best formula to make yourself ready for growth. When opportunities materialize, you will be able to seize them. More often than not, regular work and steadiness of purpose lead to a better life. There are many variations, but the theme is one.

Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

Image: photograph of landscaped garden; photo taken by John Vespasian, 2017.


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

 
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Friday, 18 August 2017

The rational approach to higher resilence

 
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If you want to pursue ambitious goals and protect yourself from discouragement, your best ally will be resilience, not luck. Numerous men and women start their careers full of enthusiasm, only to succumb to the first difficulties. The path leading to achievement seldom runs straight. When obstacles stand on the way, detours are inevitable.

An unbreakable psychology


A healthy psychology depends more on steadiness of character than on a sunny disposition. Wise men do not allow adverse circumstances to deter them. When they encounter obstacles, they use their creativity to find passage. They face difficulties with courage, avoiding wishful thinking and exaggerated optimism.

Their resilience is based on a realistic assessment of their possibilities and their constancy on the knowledge that perseverance can overcome disaster. Their prudence rests on their past experience of success and their alertness on the wish to seize opportunities.

Some individuals never get the blues and, if you adopt an entrepreneurial mentality in all areas of your life, you can become one of them. Initiative and creativity will help you in private and business matters, in your dealings with friends as much as in those with customers.

Can you increase your resilience as a way to prevent problems for the future? Is it possible to render yourself immune to low spirits? What steps can to take to get rid of fears and doubts? A steady temper is the consequence of a person's history and convictions. The former is influenced by chance, the latter determined by one's will.

How to increase your resilience


You need to use your rationality to develop your resilience. Those who think logically rarely fall prey to anxiety. If you view life in perspective, you will never be immobilized by depression. Keep your beliefs anchored in reality and your actions aligned with essential truths.

Individuals who possess a steady character tend to be persistent and entrepreneurial. If they ever worry, it will be only for the short time they need to change their course of action. They make the best of past mistakes and draw lessons for the future. Each of us can acquire the five elements that form their character, namely:


1. Assess situations calmly

 
First, a fair assessment of the impact of time on human affairs: In an era when most people expect to live at least 70 years, we should never allow adversity to sink our spirits. A man who has acquired a proper perspective of life does not get angry at inconveniences.

Provided that you have sensible goals, you have plenty of time to pursue them. Even though success is not guaranteed, your heart should remain confident and serene. Banish discouragement from your thoughts and commit yourself to developing a calm perspective.


2. Adopt a long-term perspective
 
Second, understanding the long-term benefits of consistent behaviour: Animals such as cats and dogs show occasional persistence, but cannot make plans and implement them consistently. Steadiness of purpose, a uniquely human characteristic, constitutes the foundation of serenity.


The pursuit of long-term goals multiplies the effectiveness of human action. Resolve turns prototypes into marketable products and transforms ideas into profitable businesses. Experienced managers know the advantages of keeping an unvarying course. If you place your goals above short-term adversity, you will be able to preserve your peace of mind.

3. Conserve your resources
 
Third, a desire to avoid waste and economize resources: Complaining to those who cannot solve our difficulties is a waste of energy and time. In contrast, people who draw lessons from past mistakes know how to concentrate their efforts on finding solutions.

The longer you conserve your resources, the faster you will overcome adversity. Individuals who protect their assets look confidently at the future. On the contrary, those who dilapidate their possessions fear the day when their luck will change.


4. Draw lessons for the future
 
Fourth, relentless curiosity and interest in learning: When unexpected events disrupt well-constructed plans, victims tend to react with irritation, condemning anyone who stands on their path. Their lamentations, however, have little effect on problems, except perhaps making them worse.


You can On the other hand, if you approach failure with curiosity, you will be able to draw invaluable lessons for the future. Innovators are individuals who have learned to view problems as questions and obstacles as delays. Opposition, instead of irritating them or making them stressed or anxious, makes them wiser.
 

5. Seek fresh opportunities

Fifth, a perception of the asymmetry of markets: The idea that life offers limited possibilities is false and brings about exaggerated concerns. If you are afraid of blowing your only chance, your obsession is likely to block your success.

Markets are asymmetric because opportunities come and go. Prices can be low today and high tomorrow. Customers often modify their tastes and preferences. Constant change is a source of endless possibilities. If you take this fact into account, you will be more alert to future openings in your field.

People who are well prepared for the future make the best of every hour. Positive circumstances advance their interests and negative events increase their knowledge. These persons have learned how to look ahead, prevent problems to the extent possible, and let time play in their favour.

Commit yourself to economizing resources and focus your efforts on promising initiatives. Pursue your goals single-mindedly and understand the long-term benefits of consistency. Prepare yourself for the future and acquire an unshakable serenity based on rational expectations.


Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com

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


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

 
Free subscription to The John Vespasian Letter


***********

Here are the links to five recent media interviews: