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(Edited from original article published on March 7th, 2010.) If you are like many people, you made some resolutions to improve your life in some way in the new year. Maybe you resolved to quit smoking, eat less, or exercise more. Maybe you made a commitment to floss every day. But chances are this is not the first time you have tried to make such changes. A week into the new year, you may already be struggling to keep your promise to yourself, or you may already have faltered and perhaps even abandoned your resolve. Why do New Year’s resolutions seem to be so hard to keep? MAGICAL THINKING Wanting to achieve something, even a lot, is no guarantor of success. Wishing doesn’t make it so. In addition to desire, then, I must know how to get what I want. I must take pains to discover the best course of action. Reality is a ruthless arbiter, and so reason must ultimately guide me if I am to reach my goal. Many of us, though, rely on our intuitions to tell us what will work, and we are often led astray. Break down bigger goals into measurable sub-goals. What are some of the...
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Arnold ran from the fight.  At 14, having grown up in the Bronx, he was no stranger to brawls.  But when a much older bully started shoving, then punching him, jeered on by a crowd, he didn’t even pretend to stand up to his tormentor.  He fled. Dr. Arnold Nerenberg -- psychologist, Objectivist, cancer survivor, bodybuilder, and felon -- traces the depression that shrouded his his teenage years to that moment: "It was what I perceived as my act of cowardness that was traumatizing," he told me. The ensuing depression -- with symptoms of crippling shyness -- proved immune to prescription medications.  It wasn’t until he discovered Ayn Rand, and studied psychology, that he was able to turn his tribulations into triumphs. He began his own practice as clinical psychologist, catering primarily to low-income Latinos in Whittier, California, treating issues of workplace stress, anxiety, depression, panic disorders and relationship issues.   He wanted to share Ayn Rand’s message of self-reliance, achievement and individual responsibility with his flock, but he found there were certain cultural barriers. “Latinos are very friendly. They need...
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Ray Dalio, who runs the world’s largest hedge fund, recently penned “Reflections on Trump’s Presidency” in which he urged that “Regarding economics, if you haven’t read Ayn Rand lately, I suggest that you do.” He’s only the latest of both friends and foes of President-elect Trump to invoke the author of Atlas Shrugged. And he’s right! The CEO of Bridgewater Associates writes that Rand’s “books pretty well capture the mindset. This new administration hates weak, unproductive, socialist people and policies, and it admires strong, can-do, profit makers. It wants to, and probably will, shift the environment from one that makes profit makers villains with limited power to one that makes them heroes with significant power.” The power of Dalio’s insight can be magnified by another concept from Rand: The sanction of the victim. Rand, indeed, held up as heroes in her novels great inventors and businessmen and women who grew prosperous by producing goods and services for willing customers. Their “power”...
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Ayn Rand’s most adamant axiom forms the foundation of her Objectivist philosophy: “Contradictions do not exist.” But what about the contradiction between her philosophy and religion—one grounded in reason, the other in faith? Put another way: Can you love “Atlas Shrugged” and the Bible? Rand and Objectivist scholars say no, yet many of her followers disagree, and they should still be welcomed with open arms. During the 2012 campaign, then-vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan told Fox News that he “really enjoyed” Rand’s novels” and admired the writer’s ability to highlight the pitfalls of socialism. But the current House speaker, a practicing Roman Catholic, described Objectivism as “something that I completely disagree with. It’s an atheistic philosophy.” It’s a shame that Rand’s secularism prompts some to reject the rest of Objectivism, which she described as a philosophy based on “the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” As a teenager in Soviet Russia, Rand decided “that the concept of God is...
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If Ayn Rand had written a sequel to Atlas Shrugged, no doubt John Galt would have married Dagny Taggart. And romantic (realist!) that he was, he no doubt would have given her an engagement ring. But what kind? The ring itself would likely have been traditional gold which, after all, was the currency in Galt’s Gulch and would have been in the reborn world. But what of the stone? Ask a female friend whether she would want a natural diamond or a synthetic one and you’d likely get the stock answer, “Natural, of course!” After a moment’s reflection, the friend might ask, “Synthetic? Aren’t diamonds naturally occurring and rare?” Indeed, diamonds result when carbon is put under extreme heat and pressure deep in the Earth’s mantle for a billion years or more. Even when pushed closer to the surface by volcanic activity, it still takes expensive mining operations to extract them.  But technology to produce diamonds in laboratories has advanced significantly in recent years. Ladies, we’re talking real diamonds, not cubic zirconia, okay?  These real “rocks are actually “grown”...

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