Thinking more deeply, or at least differently, about success seems to have become a genre. Malcolm Gladwell has done it, I am doing it right now in the manuscript which I am rewriting, and now Alain de Botton, another young author, is doing it in this TED talk below.
His key points:
- we live in an age of anxiety.
- the problem is our egalitarianism. We no longer believe that people who are worse off are “unfortunates” (the old term). Instead, they are now “losers”. It is their fault.
- So we fear failure more than ever, because it is our fault. This is the flip side of meritocracy, which we consider a good thing, but which is really a tyranny of expectations.
- The dominant emotion in this age of equality/anxiety is envy. We envy everybody who does better.
- With it comes fear: the fear of the judgment of others. If we have a boring job, others will look down on us and we will feel bad.
I think he underestimates the anxiety that previous generations had, but he does have a point.