Sunday, April 04, 2010

Do You Have Status Anxiety?

I read this

Image by Bill McIntyre via Flickr

It’s no wonder, according to Alain de Botton, author of “Status Anxiety.”

He starts off by offering an equation that:

Self Esteem= Success/Pretensions

From there, he winds through various philosophical, artistic, religious, historical, and cultural/anthropological analyses as to WHY people feel this anxiety and what they can do about it.

Some of the examples are fascinating, particularly how the definition of “status” has changed over time, say from the ability to kill someone with a sword, to the ability to create a virtual business.

But, at the same time, some things are constant…we strive to associate with people who don’t necessarily want to associate with us…and, we tend to ignore those who are begging for our attention.

When all is said and done, he says that the raw pursuit of success is ultimately unfulfilling and you can’t control what society deems “success.” Instead, lower your pretensions.

We can do that by “contemplating our mortality” which “may give us the courage to unhook our lives from the more gratuitous of society’s expectations. In the presence of a skeleton, the repressive aspects of others’ opinions have a habit of shedding their power to intimidate.”

What I liked about this book was how far-reaching it was, how these doses of perspective served to “keep it real” and his obvious investment in the subject.

Plus, he’s passionate about helping people realize what is important, ultimately, in life and he advocates for those universal values (outside of a religious framework.”

Bottom line: you are going to die, so don’t waste your time on the frivolous. Make it count.

Post was written while listening to: James Taylor - Greatest Hits - You've Got A Friend
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