Saturday, 9 December 2017

Ninth book by John Vespasian published today -- "Sequentiality: The amazing power of finding the right sequence of steps"


Sequentiality provides a simple, but highly effective prescription for personal development. By means of real-life examples, this book will show you how to find the right sequence of steps. Amongst others, you will learn:
  • How Luigi Cornaro overcame terminal illness and got to live 102 years.
  • The reason that made Giotto go backwards in his artistic development in order to attain financial success.
  • Which steps Giacomo Casanova took in order to become wealthy.
  • How biologist George Mendel failed miserably in his career goal, but still found happiness.
  • The huge error that destroyed Charles Dickens' life, and how to avoid it.
If you want proven ideas instead of impracticable theories, this book is for you. Are you willing to put sequentiality to work in your favour?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. The importance of asking the right questions
How confusion is created, cultivated and magnified
The most widely accepted explanation happens to be false
Discard harsh schemes before they do you in
How deep dissatisfaction gives birth to improvements
Why most people cannot even get started
Beware of the human tendency to self-delusion

2. You can figure out what steps to take next
How much nonsense are you willing to listen to?
Painfully torn by adversity: a escape by night
Don't let indignation undermine your mission
Path widening and deepening: two great strategies
Starting in life without the benefits of wealth or education
How a disciplined genius turned into an incongruous loser

3. Trial and error are the norm, not the exception
The right move after having crashed and burned
Quick rebound after a downfall
What you can do to accelerate your recovery
Here is the antidote against stagnation
Proven advice to improve your resilience and results
The danger of perfectionism: the teachings of Chuang-Tzu

4. It's all about method improvement
Taking steps to find new opportunities
Where a big plan fails, small solutions can win
Can a clever man get stuck in a stupid situation?
Learning to grow wiser and stronger
Train yourself to detect inflection points
An error that people commit all too often

5. How to speed up your progress
Why you'd better tick every box on the check-list
The human inclination to rationalize passivity
Individuals with good ethics make fewer mistakes
The theory and practice of system building
Can you apply your creativity each day?
What I learned from a man who worked miracles

6. Your steps should be logical, not random
Learning to think long-term in a short-term world
The number-one cause of devastating errors
A strong warning against self-inflicted blindness
Zero chances of finding the right steps in the dark
Figure out the logic, so that you can prevent mistakes
Ambition without logic is not a sign of wisdom

7. If only you could cut your mistakes by half
Make fear your friend, and prudence your blessing
A wide margin of error is a necessity, not a luxury
Some people throw themselves to the wolves
The right steps are often the smoothest
Dealing effectively with ignorance and prejudice

8. Let organic growth determine your steps
Natural growth is better than artificial formulas
Historical experience is the best source of wisdom
The false narrative of motivation and enthusiasm
Flawed arguments can be deliciously sweet
When something breaks, it's showing you the way
Eye-opening events are meant to make you change

9. The philosophy behind sequentiality
The key to improving your personal effectiveness
Can self-acceptance lead to better results?
The trap of psychological defensiveness
What works and what doesn't
Don't let high ideals make you irrational
The mortal sin of hypersensitivity

10. Why it's so difficult to see the winning path
Make sure that you stay alert and proactive
Taking action to seize market opportunities
Expand your activities and maximize your success
You don't need to reinvent the wheel
Improved old concepts can lead to great success
How a stonecutter found the winning path

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

What is the point of having principles? How rational living can spare you expensive mistakes

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Wouldn't life be wonderful if we never made mistakes? Imagine how much money you could save through the years if you never purchased any of those products that look so good before you take them home and later turn out to be useless. How much effort would you spare if you could perform any undertaking without mistakes?

The function of principles is to condense lessons from the past that we can apply to our present. Rational guidelines cannot guarantee success in your endeavours, but will reduce the risk of failure and minimize any ensuing damages.

What are the principles of rational living and how can we use them in our daily life? From the work of Aristotle, Epictetus, and Spinoza, I have extracted the following three guidelines, which I consider the backbone of a rational life:
  • Use the law of cause and effect to your advantage: Understanding that reality works according to cause-and-effect constitutes the difference between civilized men and savages. Despite influence of family and society, each individual is the principal agent of his own fate. Accepting responsibility for your actions means taking charge of all aspects of your life that are under your control. 
  • Take good care of your health: Each individual has control of the food he consumes and determines how much he exercises. Few ignore the crucial role that nutrition and physical fitness play in maintaining good health, but how many men and women actually take action on the basis of such knowledge?
  • Identify your lifetime goals: Barring major accidents, humans can expect to become at least 70 years old in many areas of the world. Research has repeatedly proven that setting long-term goals plays a decisive role when it comes to achievement. 
Drifting from day to day, from one occupation to another, does not require clear objectives and avoids the friction generated by those who pursue ambitious goals. On the other hand, drifting is often associated with anxiety and psychological insecurity, since it fails to provide long-term perspective. Only well-defined goals allow man to concentrate his resources wisely and make the best of his life.

Rationality demands us to strike an adequate balance between our habits of the present and our expectations of the future. If you care little about being healthy and are willing to spend your life's savings on hospital fees, there is no reason why you should adopt healthy habits in your daily living. If that is not the case, then you know what to do.

The three principles above can be complemented with other recommendations, such as:
  • Accepting catastrophes philosophically and taking swift action towards recovery
  • Learning from mistakes in order to improve your effectiveness
  • Befriend honest people and ditch the rest or, at least, minimize your contacts with aggressive or nasty individuals
  • Actively protect your privacy and possessions
  • Stand up for your rights and do not give up too easily when you meet opposition
Accepting cause-and-effect as the overriding philosophical truth will turn you into a much more effective and happier human being. Applying rational principles to your life will bring you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your thoughts and actions are aligned with the essence of reality.

[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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Here is the link to a media interview just published:

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Why you should choose to live according to rational standards

Contrary to what is commonly predicated, individuals extract massive advantages from telling lies and pretending to be convinced by them. Most people are perfectly conscious of the falsehood of silly social conventions, but still, opt for maintaining those practices.

When corporations adopt unethical policies, experience shows that most employees will shrug their shoulders, and pretend that everything is fine. In those situations, a company's revenue projections will become exaggerated, its profits fake, and its bookkeeping out of touch with reality. A few months later, such company will collapse.

Nonetheless, would you call someone irredeemably evil if he chooses to behave in a manner that allows him to keep his job, at least for a while? It is a fact that millions of men and women are complying daily with questionable demands that they could avoid if they so wished.

Next time, things will be better

This sort of stories appear so frequently in newspapers that we almost take for granted that people will learn from experience. Next time, we tell ourselves, things will be better. After every scandal, we love to believe that manipulations and corruption will not happen again. Unfortunately, our hopes never come true, and shortly after, another scandal comes to light.

What makes human beings engage in such counter-productive behaviour? How is it possible that we devote so much effort to lying to ourselves? The correct answer is not that people are fundamentally evil. The truth is much more complex than that.

There are three reasons that explain why so many individuals are invested in falsehood. Social convenience is the first, since it feels good to belong to the majority. Financial benefit is the second, since those who are accepting to look the other way will be often rewarded by their negligence. The third motive, fear of rejection, is perhaps the strongest.

An almost irresistible appeal

Each of those justifications possesses extraordinary appeal on its own. All three combined are almost irresistible. Nevertheless, history proves that, in the long run, pretence and manipulation will inevitably destroy those who employ them.

Philosophical and social progress are achieved only little by little, by taking daily steps, but even in the short term, there are clear signs that misrepresentations don't work:
  • Social convenience leads people to repress their best ideas. The habit of seeking conformity at all times deprives men of the strength to speak out their views and pursue their dreams. 
  • The financial benefits of lying, although sweet, tend to be short-lived. Schemes that look too good to be true will typically inflict heavy losses on people who engage in them.
  • In industrial societies, the negative consequences of rejection are wildly exaggerated. Nowadays, global markets are allowing innovators to find customers across the world even if their ideas are not appreciated by their own family, friends, and neighbours.
Independent thinking is difficult in the face of opposition, so what? Trusting the golden promises of social convenience will always seem the obvious choice at first sight, but blind conformity to other people's irrationalities will simply destroy your life. Choosing to live according to rational standards can prove hard at times, but constitutes the path to success and happiness.

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
 

 
Free subscription to The John Vespasian Letter

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
 

 
Free subscription to The John Vespasian Letter