A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

[2009-08-30] psychology, life, ted, video
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This is a great talk on how modern ideas about success put us under a lot of stress. Many of the points the speaker makes is how chance and fortune relativize many of our unforgiving ideals:

  • “Everyone can do anything” has to take into account that while some people do become very successful, it is also highly improbable that you will be one of them. The current prevalence of this idea is directly correlated to equally prevalent low self-esteem.
  • “You are responsible for yourself” puts many people on a constant emotional roller coaster because they own their successes as well as their failures.
  • In middle age England, poor people were considered “unfortunate” (=fortune played a role) whereas nowadays, they are often called “losers”, with far more (negative) personal connotations.
  • Great quote: “A snob is anyone who takes a small part of you and uses it to come to a complete vision of who you are.”
  • The answer to the question “what do you do” will often determine how much you are respected. So it is no surprise that people take career choices very seriously.