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Common Sense Solutions - Starting Now

A Healthier, Gentler Philosophy Of Success

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Don't Drink The "Success" Kool Aid!

Author Alain de Button says we, as a society are suffering from the collective delusion that we can all achieve anything if we just want to and work hard enough. If this doesn't pan out in reality, we consider ourselves and each other to be "losers".

He argues we pay a hidden price for this notion that we should all be able to succeed and that merit is accorded fairly to all across the board. We are more unforgiving in the face of lesser success: we view it as failure.

We judge ourselves and each other, and the result is a lot of low self esteem coursing through the system. This was not part of the human condition throughout history, suffering, yes, of course but people didn't expect to transcend their station in life through sheer willpower and feel like failures if they didn't. He points out that there are more suicides in developed countries than anywhere else in the world, and he ties that to the worship of the idea that we can all be successful if we only apply ourselves. If we own our success, we must own our failures.

Life is not fair at all. Bad things happen randomly to impede our planned course and best intentions.

An interesting point he makes is that today's society worships mankind's accomplishments, whereas traditional societies worshipped something transcendent, a God, natural forces and spirits. This focus on ourselves as heros and gods adds to the unnatural pressure to self actualize, to succeed.

He offers us a way to view our lives and our work more generously, regardless of the "results" that society measures. A healthy message indeed!

--Bibi Farber

This video was produced by Ted Talks

For more information on Alain de Button visit: