One of the few times when the TED Talk is better than the book



Alain de Botton is the founding philosopher of The School of Life and is possibly a more witty, clear, and eloquent speaker than writer. But, his books are still pretty good and worth reading.

Alain de Botton wrote this book in 2004 but it is as pertinent as ever today. Social media causes us to constantly compare ourselves to the relative status of our friends, family members, celebrities, or totally random people. When constantly comparing, we often doubt ourselves and our self-worth.

de Botton carefully articulates other causes of this anxiety and potential solutions for it.  The book is good but I recommend watching his TED Talk about this topic instead.Here are my notes on the book though.

status- one\’s position in societystatus anxiety- a worry that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society that we may be stripped of dignity and respect

hunger for status can have its uses, spurring us to do justice for our talents, encouraging excellence but its excesses are also harmful

Causes of Status Anxiety

      • Lovelessness- every adult could be said to be defined by two great love stories, the story of our quest for sexual love, the story of our quest for low from the world, our desire to rise in the hierarchy not rooted in material goods as much as the amount of love we would receive as result of high status, money, fame, influence are means to love rather than ends of themselves
      • Expectations-we have a capacity to feel that neither who we are or what we have is enough,
      • Meritocracy-we will possibly get low self-esteem if we believe in the innate equality of human beings and in the unlimited power of anyone to achieve anything because our expectations are high for us to achieve everything

Solutions to Status Anxiety

      • Philosophy-mediating element between internal and external opinion, removes inclination for common sense, which is usually little more than common nonsense, suffering from simplification, illogicality, prejudice,  and shallowness
      • Art- an antidote to life\’s deepest tensions and anxieties, capable of presenting its audience with interpretation of and solutions to existence. Every great work of art marked by the desire to remove human error, clear confusion, diminish misery
      • Politics- through ballot box, strike or even a book, people strive to redirect their societies notions of who is rightfully owed the privileges that accompany high status

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