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A kinder, gentler philosophy of success- Alain de Botton

‘If you see someone driving a Ferrari, don’t feel contempt but think of him as someone who needs a lot of love’. Alain de Botton on conceptions of succes in his TED talk.

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Creating confidence in youngsters is of course a great project. It is clear that society, the system, our parents, school, together or separate of each other, had a hand in making many of us  less confident. We can make up for that and try to help the next generation. But what will happen when these youngsters go out into the world and things don’t turn out so well? What will happen to the adults who still have to live without creative confidence for that matter? 

Life is full of surprises; even if you’re confident things can go downhill. You can have an accident, lose your job, and then society is very judgemental. Confidence, not only the creative type, is something that you can lose. And it’s not easy getting it back when you feel like a loser.

This is what Alain de Botton is talking about in his funny and witty TED talk: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. We live in a world where if you’re unemployed it’s your own fault, you should have tried harder. The idea is that if you have a great idea, a lot of energy and a garage you can be the next Steve Jobs. But this is simply not true. Justice is great but unrealistic, we will never achieve a just society were everyone has the same opportunities. Our meritocratic system freed us from aristocracy and slavery but produced a society where we have the highest rate of suicide and depression. We strive for material wealth when we actually just need a bit of love. But we don't deserve love unless we're good at something.

His main message in this talk is:our ideas of success are wrong. Even if you’ve ‘lost’ you’re not a loser. And you can’t be good at everything, there is always an element of loss. Which is not necessarily bad. But if your idea of success isn't you own, if you've sucked it in from your surroundings but it has nothing to do with your own values, then that can be a real blow.

Alain de Botton is a writer, philosopher, television presenter and entrepreneur who deeply empathizes with humanity. He has written books titled The Consolations of Philosophy, Status anxiety and recently Art asTherapy. In all of his work, which is not taken seriously by many other philosophers, he tries to find ways to help people. In fact he is the first philosopher to write in one of the genres most looked down upon: self-help.

De Botton also founded the School of Life, an institution that tries to offer instruction on how to lead a fulfilling life. In an interview with de Botton said:

‘The idea is to challenge traditional universities and reorganize knowledge, directing it towards life,and away from knowledge for its own sake. In a modest way, it’s an institution that is trying to give people what universities should I think always give them: a sense of direction and wisdom for their lives with the help of culture’ (source: Wikipedia)


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