Alain de Botton: Status Anxiety – A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Alain De Botton - Status Anxiety

Philosophy Gurus always impress upon us that success is for everyone to grasp and it is our matter of choice.

Alain in his book ‘Status Anxiety‘ challenges us with thoughts based on assumptions that are promoted to us by society at large.

However, there is a direct correlation between a society that tells you are capable of achieving your wildest dreams and low self-esteem. Because if you are directly responsible for your success then this also implies you are responsible for your failure. And because the chances that you actually fulfill these ideas of success are rather slim, the universe seems to randomly shoot people down, you end up with a lot of thoughts that it was your own fault.

In ‘Status Anxiety‘, Alain creates room for us to ponder how we can live our lives when we are kinder towards ourselves and others. In his quest for social status, He probes the causes, and explores various prescriptions taken from philosophy, art, politics, religion, and bohemia to sooth our fears. He uses historical examples, from Tocqueville to Tony Robbins, to help us keep perspective and to
sooth our anxieties.

‘Status Anxiety’ also dwells on our obsession with our social rank. In particular, Alain examines the stories we tell ourselves to explain the righteousness of our situation and how those stories affect our happiness.

Alain explains how it is human nature that we all want to be a “somebody” rather than a “nobody,” and to rise rather than fall or remain at too modest a rung on the social latter. This hunger for status can indeed drive us to achieve – but it also leads to a kind of restlessness characteristic of free, meritocratic societies.

In contrast, there was no such anxiety in the Medieval caste system, because ones social status was fixed for life.

If you like to ponder on society, and your values and place within that construct, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. It encourages self reflection and growth of spirit. My concept of ‘Think Inward‘ is of a blog which explores human behavior in multiple ways, and this brief intro with Alain’s video finds a rightful place in it.

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1 Comment

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