Monday, 15 January 2018

Why you should make longevity your primary goal

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If human beings were happy all the time, there would be little need for philosophy. If transactions never went wrong, there would be no market for lawyers and arbitration services. If individuals never became sick and died, few persons would choose to become medical doctors. In this light, death is not only the ultimate justification for medicine, but also its most crucial subject of study.

Statistics are telling us why people die, but there is much more to death than what the eye can perceive. Road accidents, heart failure, stroke, and cancer occupy prominent positions in every country's causes of decease. Contemporary statistics are also recording the toll taken by auto-immune deseases.

Why all animals die

Statistics are giving us the immediate cause of decease, but fail to address why we have to die in the first place. This question should not to be dismissed as trivial. Unless we get a clear idea of why we must die, statistical data become irrelevant. After all, one could argue, if we are doomed to pass away at eighty-five, who cares if we die of cancer or diabetes?

Since all animals die at a certain point, we are taking for granted that nature has foreseen a particular lifespan for each species, but is this really true? Can science extend man's life, allowing us to become at least one hundred years old?

Historical records show that, in previous centuries, many men and women have lived longer than a century. What is preventing us from making exceptional longevity a general rule applicable to all of us? Even if self-driving cars eliminated road accidents as a cause of death, we would still have to contend with cancer and cardiovascular disease. Will those ever be eradicated?

In order to explain why all animals must die, scientists have put forward different theories, but many of those have been abandoned during the last sixty years due to lack of evidence. The two theories that still remain (the waste theory and the exhaustion theory) seem to be pointing in the right direction.

The waste theory

The waste theory considers death as the inevitable consequence of biochemical decay. From the  moment a newborn begins to breath, its cells are acting as biological converters that turn oxygen and other substances into chemical products that the organism will consume in order to stay alive.

However, the biological conversion is going to generate certain amounts of waste that will slowly accumulate in our bodies. According to this theory, when the amount of waste surpasses our body's ability to deal with it, we die.

The exhaustion theory

The exhaustion theory is attributing death to the depletion of our body's ability to replace its own cells. While we are still alive, our cells are continuously dying and being replaced by new cells, which are almost identical to the ones that died.

According to the exhaustion theory, our cells can only reproduce themselves a limited number of times without losing their key genetic information. This limit is what will determine the maximum lifespan of each species. In the case of human beings, the maximum lifespan is estimated to be hundred and twenty years. Afer that, human cells cannot longer reproduce themselves quickly and accurately enough.

Learning from statistics

These two theories are putting cause-of-death statistics in a new perspective. Indeed, if the waste theory and the exhaustion theory are true, there might be a common cause behind cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Would it be possible that cancer and cardiovascular disease are nothing but symptoms of biochemical waste accumulation and cellular exhaustion? If that is the case, the practical consequences are earth-shattering.

What would you say if you woke up one day, and realized that your vision of the world has been turned upside down? If the waste theory and the exhaustion theory are correct, the way we are living our lives might be massively wrong.

A new paradigm

Our whole view of the world is based on a pattern made of six steps, namely: that we are born into a certain family and social environment; that we live, eat, and work in that environment; that one day, cancer, cardiovascular disease, or other major sickness will hit us out of the blue; that we will follow a medical treatment in order to fight that particular illness; that even if the treatment is successful, another disease will soon come to haunt us; that eventually, when all medical treatments fail, we'll die.

Yet, if the theories of waste accumulation and cellular exhaustion are true, we should be changing our views and expectations. Sickness and death take a whole different meaning when we start to look at them as factors that we can influence to a much larger extent than we had assumed.

If we adopt a new paradigm, we will start to see the world differently. Our new set of beliefs will be something like this: that we are born into a certain family and social environment, but the people around us won't necessarily know what's good for their health; that we can avoid or delay chronic sickness by choosing a healthy lifestyle; that we'll be much better off if we live, eat, and work using reason as a standard, irrespective of what other people may think of us; that it is up to each of us to establish longevity as a primary goal.

What to do next

We need to learn how to live in a way that slows down the accumulation of biochemical waste in our organism, since our own behaviour is the number-one factor that is keeping us healthy or making us sick.

When it comes to health, prevention should be our main concern. If the waste-accumulation theory is true, we can choose a lifestyle that will delay fatal illness until a later stage, allowing us to live longer and more healthily.  We should be running our lives in ways that minimize cell exhaustion, so that we can extend our lifespan towards the one-hundred-and-twenty years that constitute the maximum human lifespan.

The types of sickness that are killing most people are a direct consequence of a wrong lifestyle. By correcting our thinking and behavioural patterns, we can live more healthily and extend our lifespan.

Imagine the enjoyment you could draw if you lived a decade longer without being afflicted by debilitating illness. The inspiring aspect of the waste theory and the exhaustion theory is that they are reinforcing the idea that we, as a rational individuals, are in control of our future.

We are still far away from understanding all the implications of the new paradigm, but it is clear that the waste theory and the exhaustion theory are strongly favouring the tenets of rational living.


Image: photograph by John Vespasian, 2015.

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

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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Instead of Season's Greetings

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Instead of Season's Greetings,
I am sending you a reminder
to focus on the few things
that'll make your views wider

Instead of merry this and happy that
shun noise, avoid chitchat,
won't you rather take a pause
and let others welcome Santa Claus

In the New Year, you have things to do
more important than trudging blindly
more ambitious than arriving timely;
take the clue, and pursue a breakthrough

Make this Christmas unique
by thinking real hard
about what you will discard
and what you want to be

Days and months will pass,
another year will elapse
and before you know
your whole life might be gone

There is no time to lose
Christmas is no excuse
for pretending life's too hard
to do what needs to be done

Instead of Season's Greetings
I am wishing you strength
to look ahead, stay alert,
and above all, think for yourself

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

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?


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.


[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

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.


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