Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.~ Albert Einstein
Scroll down to watch a highly entertaining and inspirational TEDtalk about A Kinder, gentler philosophy of success …
Through his witty and literate books — and his new School of Life — Alain de Botton helps others find fulfillment in the everyday.
Why you should listen
It started in 1997, when Alain de Botton turned away from writing novels and instead wrote a touching extended essay titled How Proust Can Change Your Life, which became an unlikely blockbuster in the “self-help”category. His subsequent books take on some of the fundamental worries of modern life (am I happy? where exactly do I stand?), informed by his deep reading in philosophy and by a novelist’s eye for small, perfect moments. His newest book is The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.
In 2008, de Botton helped start the School of Life in London, a social enterprise determined to make learning and therapy relevant in today’s uptight culture. His goal is (through any of his mediums) to help clients learn “how to live wisely and well.”
What others say
“He writes with an elegance philosophers might envy … We’re painlessly instructed while we read for fun.”— SF Chronicle
Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.
0:11 For me they normally happen, these career crises, often, actually, on a Sunday evening, just as the sun is starting to set, and the gap between my hopes for myself and the reality of my life starts to diverge so painfully that I normally end up weeping into a pillow.
0:28 I’m mentioning all this — I’m mentioning all this because I think this is not merely a personal problem; you may think I’m wrong in this, but I think we live in an age when our lives are regularly punctuated by career crises, by moments when what we thought we knew — about our lives, about our careers — comes into contact with a threatening sort of reality.
0:46 It’s perhaps easier now than ever before to make a good living. It’s perhaps harder than ever before to stay calm, to be free of career anxiety. I want to look now, if I may, at some of the reasons why we might be feeling anxiety about our careers. Why we might be victims of these career crises, as we’re weeping softly into our pillows. One of the reasons why we might be suffering is that we are surrounded by snobs.
1:14 In a way, I’ve got some bad news, particularly to anybody who’s come to Oxford from abroad. There’s a real problem with snobbery, because sometimes people from outside the U.K. imagine that snobbery is a distinctively U.K. phenomenon, fixated on country houses and titles. The bad news is that’s not true. Snobbery is a global phenomenon; we are a global organization, this is a global phenomenon. What is a snob? A snob is anybody who takes a small part of you, and uses that to come to a complete vision of who you are. That is snobbery.
1:45 The dominant kind of snobbery that exists nowadays is job snobbery. You encounter it within minutes at a party, when you get asked that famous iconic question of the early 21st century, “What do you do?”According to how you answer that question, people are either incredibly delighted to see you, or look at their watch and make their excuses.