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2013年1月13日星期日

Alain de Botton:一种更善良、温和的成功哲学

lihlii @lihlii 2013-01-12 19:09:23 UTC
这个TED演讲剖析了极右派意识形态泛滥时代的"死懦伯 snob"社会病 http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success.html @baiyong1965 @gaodongmei @gaodongmei @HeQinglian @Renee339 @liudimouse @trotrotro


http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success.html
Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success
FILMED JUL 2009 • POSTED JUL 2009 • TEDGlobal 2009
1,804,616 Views

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.

Through his witty and literate books -- and his new School of Life -- Alain de Botton helps others find fulfillment in the everyday.

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." (Alain de Botton)

我经常对事业感到恐慌, 周日下午 晚霞洒满天空 理想和现实的差距 是这样残酷 令我沮丧的只想抱头痛哭 我提出这件事是因为 我认为不只有我这么感觉。 你可能不这么认为 但我感觉我们活在一个充满 事业恐慌的时代 就在我们认为我们已经理解 我们的人生和事业时 真实便来恐吓我们

现在或许比以前更容易过上好生活 但却比以前更难保持冷静 或不为事业感到焦虑 今天我想要检视 我们对事业感到焦虑 的一些原因 为何我们会变成事业焦虑的囚徒 不时抱头痛哭 折磨人的因素之一是 我们身边的那些势利鬼

对那些来访牛津大学的外国友人 我有一个坏消息 这里的人都很势利 有时候英国以外的人会想象 势利是英国人特有的个性 来自那些乡间别墅和头衔爵位 坏消息是,并不只是这样 势利是一个全球性的问题 我们是个全球性的组织,这是个全球性的问题 它确实存在。势利是什么? 势利是以一小部分的你 来判别你的全部价值 那就是势利。

今日最主要的势利 就是对职业的势利 你在派对中不用一分钟就能体会到 当你被问到这个21世纪初 最有代表性的问题:你是做什么的? 你的答案将会决定对方接下来的反应 对方可能对你在场感到荣幸 或是开始看表然后想个借口离开 (笑声)

势利鬼的相反,是你的母亲 (笑声) 不一定是你我的母亲 而是一个理想母亲的想象 一个永远义无反顾的爱你,不在乎你是否功成名就的人 不幸地,大部分世人都不怀有这种母爱 大部分世人决定要花费多少时间 给于多少爱,不一定是浪漫的那种爱 虽然那也包括在内 世人所愿意给我们的关爱、尊重 取决于 我们的社会地位

这就是为什么我们如此在乎事业和成就 以及看重金钱和物质的原因 我们时常被告知我们处在一个物质挂帅的时代 我们都是贪婪的人 我并不认为我们特别看重物质 而是活在一个 物质能带来大量情感反馈 的时代 我们想要的不是物质,而是背后的情感反馈 这赋予奢侈品一个崭新的意义 下次你看到那些开着法拉利跑车的人 你不要想"这个人很贪婪" 而是"这是一个无比脆弱、急需爱的人" 也就是说 - (笑声) 同情他们,不要鄙视他们

还有一些其他的 (笑声) 还有一些其他理由,让我们比过去 更难获得平静 这有些矛盾因为拥有自己的事业 是一件不错的事 但同时 人们也从未对自己的短暂一生 有过这么高的期待 这个世界用许多方法告诉我们 我们无所不能 我们不再受限于阶级 而是只要靠着努力 就能攀上我们想到的高度 这是个美丽的理想 出于一种生而平等的精神 我们基本上是平等的 没有任何明显的 阶级存在

这造成了一个严重的问题 这个问题是嫉妒 嫉妒在今日是一种禁忌话题 但这个社会上最普遍的感受,便是嫉妒 嫉妒来自生而平等的精神。这么说吧 我想在场的各位 或是观看这个影片的众位 很少有人会嫉妒英国女皇 虽然她比我们都更加富有 住在一个巨大的房子里 我们不会嫉妒她的原因是她太怪异了 她太怪了 我们无法想象自己与她扯上关系,她的语调令人发噱 来自一个奇怪的地方 我们与她毫无关联。当你认为你与这个人毫无关联时,你便不会嫉妒

越是两个年龄、背景相近的人 越容易陷入嫉妒的苦海 所以千万避免去参加同学会 因为没有比同学 更强烈的参照点了 今日社会的问题是,它把全世界变成了一个学校 每个人都穿着牛仔裤,每个人都一样 但,并非如此 当生而平等的概念遇上现实中悬殊的不平等 巨大的压力就出现了

今日你变得像比尔-盖茨一样 有钱又出名的机会 大概就跟你在十七世纪 成为法国贵族一样困难 但重点是,感觉却差别很大 今日的杂志和其它媒体让我们感觉 只要你有冲劲、对科技有一些新颖的想法 再加上一个车库,你就可以踏上比尔的道路 (笑声) 我们可以从书店中感受到这些问题所造成的后果 当你像我一样到大型书店里的 自我帮助书籍类 如果你分析现在出版的这些自我帮助类书籍 它们基本上分成两种 第一种告诉你"你做得到!你能成功!没有不可能!" 另外一种则教导你如何处理 我们婉转地称呼为"缺乏自信" 或是直接了当地称为"自我感觉极差"

这两者中间有着绝对的关联 一个告诉人们他们无所不能的社会 和缺乏自信有着绝对的关联 这是另一件好事 也会带来坏影响的例子 还有一些其它原因造成我们对事业 对我们在世上的地位感到前所未有的焦虑 再一次地,它也和好的概念有关 这个好概念叫做"功绩主义"

现在,无论是左倾还是右倾的政治人物 都同意"功绩主义"是个好事 我们应该尽力让我们的社会崇尚"功绩主义" 换句话说,一个崇尚"功绩主义"的社会是什么样的呢? 一个崇尚功绩主义的社会相信 如果你有才能、精力、和技术 你就会飞黄腾达,没有什么能阻止你 这是个美好的想法。问题是 如果你打从心里相信 那些在社会顶层的人都是精英 同时你也暗示着,以一种残忍的方法 相信那些在社会底层的人 天生就该在社会底层 换句话说,你在社会的地位不是偶然 而都是你配得的 这种想法让失败变得更残忍

你知道,在中世纪的英国 但你遇见一个非常穷苦的人 你会认为他"不走运" 直接地说,那些不被幸运之神眷顾的人,不幸的人 今日,尤其在美国 如果人们遇见一些社会底层的人 他们被刻薄地形容成"失败者" "不走运"和"失败者"中间有很大的差别 这表现了四百年的社会演变 我们对谁该为人生负责看法的改变 神不再掌握我们的命运,我们掌握自己的人生

如果你做的很好,这是件令人愉快的事 相反的情况,就很令人沮丧 社会学家 Emil Durkheim 分析发现 这提高了自杀率 追求个人主义的已发展国家的自杀率 高过于世界上其它地方 原因是人们把发生在自己身上的事情 全当作自己的责任 人们拥有成功,也拥有失败

有什么方法可以解决刚才提到的 这些焦虑呢? 是有的。我想提出几项 先说"功绩主义" 也就是相信每个人的地位忠实呈现他的能力 我认为这种想法太疯狂了 我可以支持所有相信这个想法的 无论是左倾还是右倾的政治家 我同样相信功绩主义 但我认为一个完全彻底以能力取决地位的社会 是个不可能的梦想

这种我们能创造一个 每个人的能力都忠实地被分级 好的就到顶端,坏的就到底部 而且保证过程毫无差错,这是不可能的 这世上有太多偶然的契机 不同的机运,出身 疾病,从天而降的意外等等 我们却无法将这些因素分级 无法完全忠实的将人分级

我很喜欢圣奥古斯丁在"上帝之城"里的一句话 他说"以社会地位评价人是一种罪" 用现在的口吻说 看一个人的名片来决定你是否要和他交谈 是罪 对圣奥古斯丁来说 人的价值不在他的社会地位 只有神可以决定一个人的价值 他将在天使围绕、小号奏鸣 天空破开的世界末日给于最后审判 如果你是像我一样的世俗论者,这想法太疯狂了 但这想法有它的价值

换句话说,最好在你开口评论他人之前悬崖勒马 你很有可能不知道他人的真正价值 这是不可测的 于是我们不该为人下定论 还有另一种慰藉 当我们想象人生中的失败 我们恐惧的原因并不只是 失去收入,失去地位 我们害怕的是他人的评论和嘲笑,它的确存在

今日世界上最会嘲笑人的 便是报纸 每天我们打开报纸 都能看到那些把生活搞砸的人 他们与错误对象共枕,使用错误药物 通过错误法案,种种 让人在茶余饭后拿来挖苦的新闻 这些人失败了,我们称他们为"失败者" 还有其它做法吗? 西方传统给了我们一个光荣的选择 就是"悲剧"

悲剧的艺术来自古希腊 西元前五世纪,这是一个专属于 描绘人类失败过程的艺术 同时也加入某种程度的同情 在现代生活并不常给于同情时 几年前我思考着这件事 我去见"周日运动期刊" 如果你还不认识这个小报 我建议你也别去读 我去找他们聊聊 西方艺术中最伟大的几个悲剧故事 我想知道他们会如何露骨地以新闻的方式 在周日下午的新闻台上 呈现这些经典悲剧故事

我谈到他们从未耳闻的《奥赛罗》,他们啧啧称奇 (笑声) 我要求他们以奥赛罗的故事写一句头条 他们写道"移民因爱生恨,刺杀参议员之女" 大头条 我告诉他们《包法利夫人》的故事 他们再一次感到惊异万分 写道"不伦购物狂信用欺诈,出墙妇女吞砒霜" (笑声) 我最喜欢的是 这些记者真的很有才 我最喜欢的是索福克勒斯的《俄狄浦斯王》 "与母亲的盲目性爱" (笑声) (掌声)

如果同理心的一个极端 是这些八卦小报 另一个极端便是悲剧和悲剧艺术 我想说的是或许我们该从 悲剧艺术中学习 你不会说汉姆雷特是个失败者 虽然他失败了,他却不是一个失败者 我想这就是悲剧所要告诉我们的 也是我认为非常重要的一点

现代社会让我们焦虑的 另一个缘故是 我们除了人类以外没有其它重心 我们是从古至今的第一个无神社会 除了我们自己以外,我们不膜拜任何事物 我们对自己评价极高,为什么不呢 我们把人送上月球,达成了许多不可思议的事 我们习惯崇拜自己

我们的英雄是人类 这是一个崭新的情况 历史中大部分的社会重心 都是敬拜一位人类以外的灵体,神 自然力、宇宙 总之是人类以外的什么 我们逐渐失去了这种习惯 我想这也是我们越来越被大自然吸引的原因 虽然我们时常显示是为了健康,但我不这么认为 我认为是为了逃避人群的蚁丘 逃避人们的疯狂竞争 我们的戏剧化 这便是为什么我们如此喜欢看海、观赏冰山 从外太空观赏地球等等 我们希望重新和那些"非人类"的事物有所连接 那对我们来说很重要

我一直在谈论成功和失败 成功的有趣之处是 我们时常以为我们知道成功是什么 如果我现在说,这个屏幕后面站着一个非常成功的人 你心里马上就会产生一些想法 你会想,这个人可能很有钱 在某些领域赫赫有名 我对成功的理解是,首先 我是一个对成功非常有兴趣的人,我想要成功 我总是想着"要怎样我才能更成功?" 但当我渐渐长大,我越来越疑惑 究竟什么是"成功"的真正意义

我对成功有一些观察 你不可能在所有事情上成功 我们常听到有关工作和休闲的平衡 鬼话。你不可能全部拥有。你就是不能。 所有对成功的想象 必须承认他们同时也失去了一些东西 放弃了一些东西 我想一个智者能接受 如我所说,总是有什么是我们得不到的

常常,我们对一个成功 人生的想象 不是来自我们自己 而是来自他人 如果你是个男人,你会以父亲做榜样 如果你是个女人,你会以母亲做榜样 精神分析已经重复说了80年 但很少有人真正听进去。但我的确相信这件事

我们也会从电视、广告 各样的市场宣传中 得到我们对成功的想象 这些东西影响了我们 对我们自己的看法、我们想要什么 当我们听说银行业是个受人尊敬的行业 许多人便加入银行业 当银行业不再受人尊敬,我们便对银行业失去兴趣 我们很能接受建议

我想说的是,我们不该放弃 我们对成功的想象 但必须确定那些都是我们自己想要的 我们应该专注于我们自己的目标 确定这目标是我们真正想要的 确定这个梦想蓝图出自自己笔下 因为得不到自己想要的已经够糟糕了 更糟糕的是,在人生旅程的终点 发觉你所追求的 从来就不是你真正想要的。

我必须在这里做个总结 但我真正想说的是 成功是必要的 但请接受自己怪异的想法 朝着自己对成功的定义出发 确定我们对成功的定义都是出于自己的真心 非常谢谢各位 (鼓掌)

Chris Anderson: 说的真好。你要如何 与自己和解 把一个人称为失败者是糟糕的 但许多人都想掌握自己的生活 一个追求这些的社会 难免要有赢家和输家。

阿兰·德波顿: 是的,我只是想提出在 输赢的过程中,有太多偶然 今日我们太讲求 所有事情的正义和公平 政治人物总是在谈论正义 我非常支持正义,我只是觉得那不可能 我们应该尽力 尽力去追求正义 但我们也应该记得 我们所面对的,无论在他们人生中发生过什么 偶然总是一个强烈的因素 我希望大家留一点空间这么想 不然真令人有一种幽闭恐怖症的感觉

Chris Anderson: 我是说,你是否相信 在这种温和的哲学下 可以产生一个发达的经济? 还是你认为那不可行? 还是我们这样反复提醒人们也不甚重要?

阿兰·德波顿: 梦魇是相信 恐吓人们是刺激他们发奋的最好办法 或是环境越残酷 就会有越多人接受挑战 你必须想,你的理想父亲是怎样的? 你的理想父亲往往是严厉又温和的 虽然这界限很难画定 我们社会需要的模范性人物,是像一个理想父亲 不要走极端 不要完全集权、纯粹纪律 也不要模糊马虎,乱无规章

Chris Anderson: 阿兰·德波顿。

阿兰·德波顿:谢谢各位。 (鼓掌)


http://www.ted.com/speakers/alain_de_botton.html
Speakers Alain de Botton: Philosopher
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 to him:
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."
"He writes with an elegance philosophers might envy ... We're painlessly instructed while we read for fun."
SF Chronicle

Quotes by Alain de Botton
"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."

"A snob is anybody who takes a small part of you and uses that to come to a complete vision of who you are."

"The problem is if you really believe in a society where those who merit to get to the top, get to the top, you'll also, by implication … believe in a society where those who deserve to get to the bottom also get to the bottom and stay there."

"It's as though either you accept [religious] doctrine and then you can have all the nice stuff, or you reject the doctrine and you're living in some kind of spiritual wasteland under the guidance of CNN and Walmart."

"The secular world is full of holes. We have secularized badly."

"Let's say you went to Harvard or Oxford or Cambridge, and you said, 'I've come here because I'm in search of morality, guidance and consolation; I want to know how to live,' — they would show you the way to the insane asylum."

"When you look at the Moon, you think, 'I'm really small. What are my problems?' It sets things into perspective. We should all look at the Moon a bit more often."

"We may not agree with what religions are trying to teach us, but we can admire the institutional way in which they're doing it."

"Religions are so subtle, so complicated, so intelligent in many ways that they're not fit to be abandoned to the religious alone; they're for all of us."

"Why does that sense of mystery, that sense of the dizzying scale of the universe, need to be accompanied by a mystical feeling?"

"The universe is large and we are tiny, without the need for further religious superstructure. One can have so-called spiritual moments without belief in the spirit."

More TEDQuotes…


Alain de Botton on the Web


原生非处洋奴 @Renee339 @fred09g @liudimouse 势利小人死懦伯 snob http://lihlii.blogspot.com/2013/01/renee339-fred09g-liudimouse-snob.html
自己处于下层,还特别喜欢鄙视下层人民的人叫做死懦伯(snob) http://lihlii.blogspot.com/2013/01/snob.html


COMMENT ON THIS TALK
352 total comments

Anubha Maurya Walia 0Reply
Jan 5 2013: Compliment to you alain for us think atleast me what success is, how and by when i need to achieve and once i achieve than what is the next jouney .... we need to move on with understanding our own success subject rather than envying on others achievement
Great Stuff
Louis Thurley 0Reply
Jan 4 2013: When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day,
Just go to a mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or wife,
Who judgment upon you must pass;
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one starring back from the glass.
Anthony Huntley 0Reply
Dec 11 2012: I think this talk touches on such a important topic; 'How do you define success'?

Those who liked this talk may like Alain De Botton's docuentary; 'Status anxiety' - It's freely available on youtube: Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=CERfoDIU2Yw

Iphigenia Tillieu 0Reply
Dec 2 2012: this is probably one of the best talks I have seen although I disagree with de Botton on our ideas on succes coming from our mother for women and the ideas on succes coming from our father for men...there is no need to distinguish there between mother or father as many women take their ideas on succes from their fathers and off course there are men or women growing up with only one parent so that they have no choice as to take in ideas from the available parent.

Iphigenia Tillieu +2Reply
Dec 2 2012: Quote by Tim Jackson I associate with this talk:

""[We are] persuaded to spend money we don't have on things we don't need to create impressions that won't last on people we don't care about.""
George Falcon 0Reply
Dec 1 2012: He's so right!
Lluís Gómez Hernando 0Reply
Nov 17 2012: I found it really sad when the public started laughing at "This is somebody who is incredibly vulnerable and in need of love". Such a serious thing to laugh at...

John Bulmer 0Reply
Nov 4 2012: Great talk.

Our society as a whole has placed far to great a value on the actions / accomplishments of others. We have become hero worshippers, or in a biblical sense we idolize 'false idols'. For me, the wonders of our natural world are to be worshipped and not the act or deed of an individual. Those acts or deeds need to be respected, but not worshipped.

Success based on how our society judges success is in essence allowing others to control one's life. Perhaps this works for some, but to the individual it is unhealthy to live in such a way. One becomes a victim as a result.

Jianan Shi 500+ +2Reply
TED ATTENDEETEDX ORGANIZER
Oct 14 2012: We are not living for other people's definition of success. We are living for our own definition of success.
Carlos S. +1Reply
Oct 16 2012: That sounds kind of "Atlas shrugged", good.

Palak Patel +2Reply
Oct 20 2012: Yes, but humans are social creatures and mentally very fickle. Our definitions of success are often altered by the definition of success most prevalent in society. This I feel is primarily because we want approval of others, of the society, because deep down, we all want to feel good about ourselves. We may feel we are living to fulfill our definitions of success, but it is still very difficult for that definition to not be affected by society.

John Bulmer +2Reply
Nov 4 2012: And an aspect of the talk, was that judging our success based on other's definition of success is the issue.

Are there a basic human desire for acceptance within society? Yes, by all means. Decoupling acceptance from society's view of success is the key.

Be true to yourself, for you are the one that you have to live with.
Robert Jordan 0Reply
Oct 13 2012: I think Alain has cool ideas about what people do and why they do it. A female friend of mine thinks he's has a beautiful heart, mind and body!
Donghun Lee +1Reply
Oct 11 2012: I believe there's universal need for the change in our culture of failure. What tells success apart from failure? Having read Allain De Botton's "Status Anxiety", I began to wonder about this question. what do you think? what's your own criterion for success and failure.

I am fire-passionate about creating a new holiday called Day for Failure. It takes place on October 13th. It started from Finland in 2010 and this year we celebrate the day along with over 40 different groups in 17 cities around the globe.

Learn more about our story, if you want.
Website: http://dayforfailure.com
Our story in 2012: http://dayforfailure.pressdoc.com/

Ereshkigal Inanna +1Reply
Oct 9 2012: I think, ultimately, that some of the questions that came up in the end were some of the most important things mentioned:
-That there is a huge factor of luck involved in determining our opportunities throughout life, which results in our suffering. And that this is a problem.
-The question of whether it would be plausible to reform the workplace environment into one that was more relaxed and enjoyable, and simultaneously maintain productivity. I think that it's possible, and that workplace reform needs to go quite a bit further. Currently, most of the jobs available are mostly drudgery, which I believe needs not be the case. (There are some gems out there; most of us aren't the ones doing them.)
-Punishing people (as a means of frightening them into submission) is not the way to get good work out of them. Between tough and gentle there's a fine line that could (and perhaps should) be walked, especially by those in positions of power.
-Also, if we ask how to create work environments that are satisfying and enjoyable, and that nurture the growth and development of an individual, we see that this would require some dramatic reform. What would it look like? We need a huge mass of our global population to shift out of marketing and our current methods of production (factory, which requires no skill) and into more highly trained, skilled professions. Both of the intellectual and manufacturing/creating pursuits.
-And in order to do this, to create enjoyable work, a massive reform of our education system is needed as well. The privatization of our higher education is unacceptable, and our public schools K-12 do a revoltingly poor job of really exciting us about our interests and curiosities, which results in a poor education nearly all of which is forgotten.
Fred Siemon 0Reply
Oct 6 2012: A couple of minutes into the talk, Alain disappears and a commercial for IBM emerges. I'd like to hear the complete Alain de Botton talk, but don't know how to redirect to the original program. Any suggestions?
Dina Kupchanka +3Reply
Oct 6 2012: watch it on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtSE4rglxbY

Darshna Devika 0Reply
Oct 3 2012: Great talk. This is something relevant to our view : http://www.connectasianetworks.com/articles/uncategorized/inevitable-invisibles/#.UGvq9U1hz8s

Martim Roquette Durão 0Reply
Oct 2 2012: Well, loved this speech. Aldo i may say that Snobs did also loved this speech... creepy huh? But Snob also means "Sin Nobilis", without nobility.
john moffett +1Reply
Oct 2 2012: One important thing I took from this talk is that you can't be successful at everything and that you should accept this. Enjoy the things that you are successful at and give value to these. Most of all avoid comparing yourself to others around you especially through the filter of the media as this can only lead to envy.

Propane Studio +1Reply
Sep 13 2012: By bringing up "that famous iconic question of the early 21st century: what do you do?" de Botton once again masterfully addresses the most timely and apt topics of today: this particular subject being career anxiety and job snobbery. Our ideas of success, where they have come from, and how to direct them, mandate a great deal of our lives. In this talk, with the humor and elegance he is known for, de Botton ultimately preaches that having ideas of success is warranted, but that they must be our own.

Octavio Colmenares +1Reply
Aug 2 2012: Very satisfying talk that promotes the real sense of success. Nothing more that the real cause of the unsatisfactory society we are living now. All the means are focused on telling us what success is in terms of mercantile achivments and nothing on social and virtues goals.
Erich Lagasse 0Reply
Jul 30 2012: I think this talk is liberating because it empowers us to determine what success is. I guess we have to decide what things are important to us, and then do the best we can to make them happen. For those who want to be more successful in their careers, we have recently posted articles http://academy.justjobs.com/ that provide useful tips. I hope you find them useful. - Erich

Chris Brown +1Reply
Jun 16 2012: Open to suggestion? we are mimics we want what is successful.
Breaking all that programming is what you have to do.

But yes follow your own.

Chris Brown +1Reply
Jun 16 2012: Like Alain.

Global Snob Ltd....love it.

Your job? I usually answer nothing as its of no consequence what they do and I ain't sharing. I also like to be alone.

If your a collector then your all about possessing things.
Hiro Kobayashi +2Reply
May 20 2012: Good talk. But some of us don't suffer from envy.

And to be honest, I'd figured most of this out quite a while ago.
john moffett 0Reply
Oct 2 2012: I must admit I'm envious of your lack of envy. I find like Alain de Botton there are always moments when I feel all sorts of emotions that I know logically are of no importance. This I feel is in many ways the human condition.
don wreford 0Reply
Apr 8 2012: The optimism of the speaker is a major draw card in popularity of what people desire to hear, noted Alain in his 12 part utube talk, is a passing mention of Shopenhauer, this obscure philosopher, other than students of philosophy, I checked out, as you will note he is not a great sexy looking character, not as good looking as Alain, although Alain has some time to go in the outcome of time and its effects upon the facial expression. however in the meantime, Shopenhauer appears the antithesis of Alain, in terms of popularity as his life unfolded S, had a sole companion as his dog, the significant aspect of S, for me is his compassion or empathy for animals, what Alain avoids is the dark side of Human nature, that is the trials and tribulations of consumption, war, and the increasing threat of many Humans having a impending feeling of isolation and disconnection, as we are aware the Earth being a lone voyager in space and time, we should have some recognition in spite of what scientists promise, in practical terms we are not able to leave this Planet, as you are well aware the nearest Sun to us is approximately four and a half light years away, this is sobering enough, only a few years ago our now gay and happening Capitals were slums predominately, such as Paris, London, our now jubilant achievement celebrating our new found wealth may become unrealistic and our consumptive lifestyle may be short lived, what Alain gives is the illusion of celebrating a positive spin that we all desire to hear but nevertheless may prove to be a brave new world for Alain and Alain and family, as the positive optimism of the Beatles were to the thirsty crowd for the Free New World, and had little flow on for most, other than the Beatles, and even so this group were unable to entirely escape tragedy, I do not envisage this fate for Mr de Botton, but many whom have delight in following in the slipstream of his success will become disappointed.
Jinny Fisher +1Reply
May 20 2012: Your comment, which is just one sentence, would be easier to read and make more sense if you'd use a few full stops ("Periods" in USA English)....
Mischa Nygaard 0Reply
Apr 6 2012: Well, I think that it's very nice for Alain de Botton to live in a world where people aren't materialistic, but his statements to this point seem more likely a result of privileged upbringing, along with too few encounters with the mating rituals of today. It's easy to say that people aren't materialistic when you're an unwed academic philosopher. What a joke. What credibility does a successful, wealthy individual have to claim that people aren't materialistic. It's like a super model claiming that people aren't vain. Maybe he doesn't think we are materialistic, but he seemed to have a good time making fun of people who weren't aware of intellectual things like Shakespeare, creating a system of worth based on intelligence and learning, ironically a value system that would place him near the top. And so I call into question what experience that results in a mankind that's not so materialistic. Oh, we just live in a society where emotional rewards are pegged to acquisition of material goods! Oh, is that all? Well how is that not overwhelmingly meaningful to the common person? Easy for him to say, a trust-fund heir who found a way to live without his inheritance by making millions on his books.What are we supposed to think about the guy with a Ferrari? How about: Ugh, that person has a way, way better car than I have, and in comparison, I am much less valuable than this person. This is what we are led to believe for most of our life! Capitalism runs the world, and so unsurprisingly determines most people's concept of inner value, as based on one's financial worth. In the end, I agree with his statement that we should make our ideas of success our own. But we are not all lucky enough to be cognitively capable to develop our own concepts of value, and then sustain them against the barrage of normalcy. Yes, those influences like advertisement, and media, and the world of consumerism are powerful forces that mold a person's self concept. Navigating them is the trick.
Jana Bou Reslan +2Reply
May 10 2012: Dear Mischa,

Can you please look into your words and examine them ...?

"Easy for him to say, a trust-fund heir who found a way to live without his inheritance by making millions on his books."

ARE YOU SERIOUS?
It only proves more that you're underestimating his achievement, knowing that being a heir to millions is even more challenging to remain focused, goal-oriented AND especially, someone who OWNS his own ideas for success in a class where people are busier anybody comparing and envying and and... . . . So could you please stop being an EXTERNALIZER as Dr. Phil puts it and achknowledge the the internal factors that made Alain De Button who he is. He IS an INTERNALIZER and clearly owns his ideas for success. Thus he earns his success. You'd better find what makes you a successful person and navigate as you said. . . whithout understating other people's journey because you absolutely hae no clue what it might have been for them . . .forget about the heir anf the academic philosopher title and extermal shiny frames..Think for once if you were in his shoe, who you might have become . . how would you have managed against all the glamour, to write books and think and be challenged with ideas rather than the easily-slippery path of Ferrari and outfit and life style envy...
Brandon Nelson 0Reply
May 20 2012: you may have made some good points, but i have a hard time reading it all without any paragraph breaks.
Rob Symington 0Reply
Sep 8 2012: Dear Mischa,

I think your comment makes you a snob...!?
Randy Goff 0Reply
Nov 30 2012: Mischa,

The anger with which you approach this subject is stunning. I think it is a clear indication that you are not involving yourself with the things that make you successful.

And, what could those be? Not the pre-calculated talents that you list, but who are you and what can you do? What thrills and interests you?

As a spiritual practicer, my chief concern for other people is that they do their bit...that they provide to the whole that which they were put here to provide, to succeed at what they have genius at.

Your analytic tools are sharp, your passion in obvious, your vocabulary and usage is certainly above average, your intelligence is self-evident. Your anger is an impressive indicator of life energy, and when directed at a productive endeavor, I imagine you would be unstoppable. I wonder what else you are good at?
Lisa Mascaro +4Reply
Apr 6 2012: Love this man's sense of humor. His definition of success makes me laugh out loud. Snobs, aren't they everywhere? This man is fabulous!

Sergey Beliaev 0Reply
Mar 30 2012: Great talk! I believe that success is a competition. First of all with a limit of time you have to accomplish your dreams. In the long run - lifetime. I agree with Alain that it is very hard to keep balance between your dreams. Really great success in some area is impossible without sacrificing almost everything else.

Sam Kiranga 0Reply
Jun 10 2012: I tend to disagree. With 24 hours to each day. I don't see why being an all round success is impossible. Maybe if you are trying it all too fast, you might crash and burn but with proper planning and patience anyone can be unstoppably successful. Look at people like Tim Ferriss, this guy makes a variety of achievements all the time you'd think his life is a movie.
Randy Goff 0Reply
Nov 30 2012: I think the only way you would know is to ask Tim Ferriss, when he is in an honest mood.

I know a psychologist who says," I didn't know that the rich and powerful weren't happy. I was very shocked when I heard it for the first time."

Not everybody, but many are probably in this category, because happiness (ideas of success) is created internally rather than externally. Whether you agree with that or not, you must agree that your evaluation of how somebody is doing is you, not them.
Jaakko Valli +3Reply
Mar 25 2012: I come from Finland.

According to some rather recent studies we are:

Second "happiest" nation in Europe, beaten only by the Danish.

One of the most equal nations in the world in terms of distribution of wealth, womens rights, treatment of minorities etc.

On the other hand:

We have the second highest suicide rate of 15-24 year old women in the world. Our men in the same age group come fifth in the world.

Also we are the most violent country in Western Europe. This is mainly due to middle aged alcoholics killing each other.

Conclusion: Failure in an equal opportunity society can be crushingly depressing. Being depressed while surrounded by happy people seems to make a person more prone to taking their own, or someone elses life.

Chris Brown 0Reply
Jun 16 2012: True.

Portia Tung 0Reply
Mar 20 2012: Thanks for a great talk - fantastic to see and hear Alain in action given how inspiring his writing his. This talk has inspired me to blog about my work conundrum: Loving the work you do and doing the work you love: http://www.selfishprogramming.com/2012/02/13/love-the-one-youre-with/. Thanks again!
Ufuk Arif Şahin 0Reply
Mar 6 2012: ..Actually individualism anonymizes the individuals, your name or identity is just letters on a paper... and that's why you have to work harder, you have to be successful and earn a lot of money to make everybody knows your name :)

John Bulmer 0Reply
Mar 18 2012: Why do people need to know my name?

Chris Shelton 0Reply
Feb 17 2012: I think this is a brilliant talk, ironically it could help some religious people who might decide to stop taking the Daily Mail
I think being agnostic the most rational. Though rationality is maybe overrated

I wondered if there was some overlap with this Dalai Lama talk
http://www.youtube.com/user/gyalwarinpoche?blend=6&ob=5#p/c/D5951F087FEFDCBE/6/Cd4dfEC8kcY

I also recall Oscar Wilde's view that the tragedy for most women is that they become their mother and the tragedy for most men is that they don't .This Sherlock Holmes adventure also seems relevant from the same era

http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=210160

Anybody who's watched it or read the 'Crooked man' may agree with me that
actually what is likely to make you look like the Crooked man is if you do get married

I don't mean it of course but I am intending on this theme of kinder gentler careers at some time to put forward the view of kinder gentler education which would replace competitive sport with preventative medicine , so reducing suffering through injuries
Alain de Botton 100+ +10Reply
TED SPEAKER
Feb 9 2012: Thanks very much for all the very kind comments and the huge number of downloads. If you want to get in touch about the themes of this talk or anything else, please feel free at www.alaindebotton.com

Luigi CS STEFANI 0Reply
Jan 30 2012: Great talk Alain! anything is possible, maybe... but anything is not impossible too.
Well I will remenber that compassion ironic thing the next time I see someone driving a FERRARI.
I laugh but you are right, we have to try our best to not be so snob, making the first thing we see about something be the last thing to... Is dificult like learn how to fall in something that we fear, but we can try and become better than this.

Monica Kade 0Reply
Jan 29 2012: Such a fascinating and engaging man.
I enjoyed Alain's talk so much I had to connect with him for an interview....though you all might be interested. Career Confessions - http://wp.me/pSZ40-g9
M ska 0Reply
Jan 27 2012: I love being able to reinforce my framework through things presented in these talks. A point I'd like to make is the swift aptness for one to define one's trajectory or state of being by those imposing ideas onto us. On either side of the scale, we're quick to accept or dismiss prevailing notions. For better or worse, they come and go. But at the end of the day, I don't think it stops.

When it slows, and we have everything we need and want, we'll be wise. Accomplished; forever happy - at rest in the absence of major crises. I think it's a great goal, and would be a nice perspective to teach from later in life. That seems to be my long term goal, apart from a thriving list of tangible ones I won't mention. But the talk's presentation of being agents of success is so true, where accountability lays amidst each other. Despite my long journey ahead of me, I can't help but notice lapses where if I suddenly changed into everything I wanted, and was on my last day, I would be exactly the same. This ability to step outside it all shows how engrained our ideas and actions become - they can effectively replace reality. The hard part is retaining your bubble of existence. Still managing to grow, while subsequently trying to not be thrown off by those looking to make way for themselves. Leaders are born and die; no one lasts forever. Everyone will be challenged. We are not forever. Our vessels, can even be changed and influenced to shift towards something entirely different than we were before.
Yunus Çetin 0Reply
Jan 25 2012: This guy really is a professional philosopher. I have been listening to him for nearly twenty minutes and it does not make any sense what he is talking about. And the applause he gets from this audience, really strange....I really wonder what they really have learnt from this short speech...weird

Thomas Costick 10+ +2Reply
Jan 22 2012: Totally agree with the message of this talk. Much of the successes (and failures) in our lives depend on being in the right (and wrong) place at the right (wrong) time.

I've always been suspicious of the rags to riches stories where a person's wealth and success is attributed entirely to hard work and a good business mind. The same goes for businesses that rise from small-scale operations to multinationals. For every notable success there are perhaps 10 or 100 failures, only we don't hear about them.

A kinder, more humanistic approach is called for in our dealings with others.
Amanda Zielinski 10+ 0Reply
Jan 22 2012: Yes yes yes! More talks like this please. This man gets it.
Success to me is pragmatic ingenuity with a positive tilt.
Highlighting the stobbery concept delighted me.

Melissa Yuan-Innes 0Reply
Jan 19 2012: I absolutely agree that you have to define success for yourself.

As Anna Qundlen said, "Because if your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all. Remember the words of Lily Tomlin: If you win the rat race, you're still a rat."
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/news/stories/5683096
Zhigang Guo +2Reply
Dec 30 2011: the most thoughtful talk I have ever seen in my life. So great
Joe George 0Reply
Dec 6 2011: One thing Alain missed out perhaps is that success ultimately has to translate into happiness; otherwise it is a sucked perception of success as he termed it, which truly is a viral NLP or brain programming, and hence a disease suffered by the society at large. It is when one's perception translates into experiential feeling of happiness, that one truly experiences success. A graph of success is nothing but a line formed by many points of moments-of-happiness over a lifetime.
Mike Robinson 0Reply
Dec 6 2011: I don't think he missed it. He was defining success by what is expected to make you happy. He then says we should be careful about how we establish what makes us happy, as our expectations may unexpectedly be set by parents' influences or society.
Michael Coleman 0Reply
Oct 31 2011: Great I watched it three times.
: ) 0Reply
Oct 26 2011: Eloquent and humorous!!

Jocelyn Chow 0Reply
Oct 18 2011: Simply want to say that I love reading Alain de Botton's books...:)
ela Bartoszewska 0Reply
Oct 17 2011: For all polish reading TEDmaniacs - our inspiration of this speach http://controlfind.pl/artykuly/twoja-kariera/filozofia-sukcesu-w-wersji-soft_ge.html
Kimani Burton 0Reply
Oct 12 2011: Profound stuff by Mr. Botton; our definition of success is just as important as how we think other's will perceive our success. Another key point that could be added is: success by way of great indulgence in material things is not analogous to success that's derived from pure happiness.

Edward Newell 0Reply
Aug 10 2011: Great Talk!
Allison Furterer 0Reply
Aug 8 2011: I am so thankful for this talk. I'm working on a bachelor's degree and hoping to pursue a research career but I'm holding myself back. I keep comparing myself to everyone else in my major, in my year, in my whatever, and I have a very hard time feeling relevant standing next to them. This helped me refocus on what actually matters: how well I'm living up to my potential and expectations. I've thought about some of these points before but it is so helpful to hear them coming out of such a persuasive person.

Martin Bermea +5Reply
Jul 24 2011: Snobbery is definitely widespread. In Mexico, we have a special derogatory term: Fresa. A fresa (meaning strawberry) is someone who yearns for the trendy products: The best cell phone, the best car, the best clothes, an excellent job, etc. Now, why is the term derogatory? It's derogatory because we think a person who is on the constant struggle to differentiate himself from their peers has a deep internal issue. We think this person has a low self-esteem, He does not buy the best car because he likes it, but because he thinks other people (his or her "friends") will stop thinking of him as a loser. In Mexico, we seem to think everybody shares a certain sense of community regardless of his place in the hierarchy. So, a Fresa, is someone who stops having sympathy for the rest of us (the poor). He thinks himself above everybody else, yet he feels awkward, because deep inside he knows he is just as average as everybody else, and he can't accept it so he keeps on toiling without knowing what he really wants. And indeed a successful person does not necessarily earn a lot of money, he just enjoys what he is, where he works, what he does and he may go up the ladder of success yet he will never forget the community he grew up in, that means he will always be empathetic, because after all, the middle classes began in the XX century, at least for Mexico. By reading "Compro, luego existo" (I buy, therefore I am) Guadalupe Loeza makes an in-depth (yet funny) study about the behaviour of these "Fresas".
YongIl Kim 0Reply
Jul 28 2011: Thank you for your insight. : ]

Xavier Medina 0Reply
Sep 24 2011: Incluso este tema se puede extender mucho más para incluir el otro término tan utilizado como el de los fresas, y que corresponde al de los nacos. Lo curioso es que en general al referirnos a los fresas, de alguna manera nos estamos refiriendo a las personas que basan su estilo de vida en lo material, y cuyos gustos y prioridades son aspectos superficiales, sin preocuparse por las condiciones de vida de otros sectores de la población.

Amy Hu 0Reply
Jul 16 2011: LOVE THIS SPEECH, INSPIRING!!!
anne corr +5Reply
Jun 21 2011: Articulate, sane and thought provoking in a complex, sophisticated, urbane world. We need Alain de Boton and we need to change ourselves. Marvellous stuff
Eugene Roh +1Reply
Jun 13 2011: Wow this lecture gave me a new insight on success!!
Thanks for witty and inspiring talk:)
Yes we do have to consider that what we are doing and what social position we are in might be a lottery of haphazard matters. Pity that we don't have so much time to remind this of ourselves.....
Since I see so many snobs in this world, this talk is of course worth spreading!!!!Hope more people watches this~!!:P

Bruno Fujii 10+ 0Reply
Jun 9 2011: Great talk.

The only thing is that the subject could be divided (acutally I wish that) in about 5 parts. Each one is very complex to discuss in only 16 minutes — they even sounds silly sometimes, but they are definitely not.
Jacob Fehr +2Reply
Apr 21 2011: One of my favorite talks here on TED, truly fascinating.
This is a bit silly but I feel like sharing it. If anyone has seen the tv show family guy, this man reminds me of what stewii griffin would look like grown up and as a real person. I mean no disrespect, it was just a thought that popped in my head.
I am already sorry I posted this

Dominic Snell 10+ +4Reply
Apr 2 2011: De Botton has become my favourite author without a doubt. I have read and reread all of his books, espeically 'The Art of Travel' and 'How Proust can Change Your Life". They are a constant source of topics that, as someone new to philosophy, I can use to reflect on some of the questions really relavent to life today. Through his writting, the ideas of great thinkers who wrote in a way that can sometimes be tough to follow, are opened up to the layman, in a humourous and engaging way. This talk is just an example (and a great one) of the kinds of enjoyment you can get from the books. (can you tell im a fan?)...
Vibha Rana 0Reply
Mar 26 2011: A well presented analysis of lives we live in today - a though provoking concept - worth introspecting ourselves - but more importantly- to share with todays teenagers who are constantly undergoing the pressure of "being judged"
Tae Hyung Koo 0Reply
Mar 6 2011: Your idea is as brilliant as your head. Thanks Alain!! ^^
Carl Gilbertsen +1Reply
Feb 17 2011: I do like this message, but it's worth noting this guy comes from huge huge money.

Namwoo Kim 500+ +1Reply
TED TRANSLATORTEDX ORGANIZER
Feb 15 2011: Awesome! I watched a 5 times over again!!
Anatolie Porojan +2Reply
Feb 2 2011: Guys, if you liked this post, i recommend also to check out A. de Button's lecture "On pessimism"
-> http://tinyurl.com/624g4kk

loved every bit of it.
Eunhou Song 0Reply
Jan 23 2011: I can't agree more about the notion of tragedy - the fact that the only thing we are sympathetic to is tragedy. However I wonder what's Mr. Botton's view on the way people make a tragedy out of themselves: some people tend to make these sad stories about their failure. Do we have to be sympathetic or not? Do those stories have some truth in them?
John Parker 0Reply
Jan 20 2011: I enjoy de Botton's distinction between material gain and the social/psychological reward associated with a material trophy. Happiness, in most cases, is bound to ones perceived value within a social context. I'd be curious to hear what he has to say about the evolution of disparities between perceived and practical value in a broader economic/social context, i.e. housing bubbles or disproportionate compensation.

Jenny Hao 0Reply
Jan 19 2011: I first saw Alain de Botton in his excellent Channel 4 series 'Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness' which he made about 10 years ago. It inspired me to read his book - 'The Consolations of Philosophy' which I would highly recommend, truly insightful.
Maxwell Collinge 0Reply
Jan 2 2011: I agree whole heartedly with this! The idea of assessing the value of our model of sucess is an idea I believe should be applied to all of our models.
Alyssa McCarthy +1Reply
Dec 18 2010: Seems like a brilliant guy. I kept getting lost in his rapid English accent though.
Tomas Muir 0Reply
Dec 29 2010: This guy is great, his argument made a lot of sense. But I actually envy the queen a bit, because she is very rich and has a royal lifestyle. Sure, she deserves it. In my opinion she seems to have earned the title of queen from nothing, she is truly fortunate.

Jenny Hao 0Reply
Jan 2 2011: Haha, yes I don't know why we talk so fast!
James B 30+ +1Reply
Sep 17 2010: I'd say there quite a number of people who'd envy the queen of England, her lifestyle and global recognition have to be worthy of some envy!
Alyssa McCarthy +1Reply
Dec 18 2010: In an abstract way, sure, she has more than we do, and that's an enviable position. But I think his meaning that it's not the pure envy that we would have if we saw those close around us to have successes that we have not achieved. It's called the little green monster for a reason. True envy is more visceral than the mere notion that you would appreciate having what another person has.
Edmond Binjaku 0Reply
Aug 23 2010: A brilliant talk. Botton puts a mirror in front of us, helping to see our true self we miss. He makes us understand how far away from "the sincerest parts of ourselves" we've gone with the egocentricity of our time.

Sasha Rad'kova 0Reply
Aug 19 2010: I've always loved Alain de Botton and his books. I'm so glad I can watch his talk. He's so simple and brilliant.

Kevin Stanek 0Reply
Aug 4 2010: If there is so much randomness then why can we predict so many life outcomes based on early indicators (e.g., intelligence)? Intelligence is a good predictor of future income, adult health indicators, etc.

I agree that we need to temper our judgments with the reservation that some situations and behaviors may not have come about in the way that we assume.
Richard Lockwood 0Reply
Aug 21 2010: Perhaps chance provides the exceptions that prove the predictive rule? Fortune cannot be overlooked. How many have proclaimed that fortune is the reason for their success (never failure, ha!). Not modesty.

Amanda Jane 0Reply
Jul 27 2010: "Easier now than ever before to make a good living"? What? Where? Making a good living--and certainly an honest living--is harder than ever before in many places in the world!
Rys Smoker 0Reply
Oct 9 2010: I think he means in a historical sense.

Damon Pourtahmaseb-Sasi 50+ 0Reply
Oct 26 2010: I'm not sure from what perspective you're saying that: even with the gross amounts of people still living below the poverty line and the few people with disproportionately high mountains of money, there is a higher % of people living today beyond "hand to mouth" than there ever was in the past. Living conditions around the world are generally higher than they've ever been in history.
ivan crnkovic 0Reply
Oct 31 2010: i suggest you watch this first before making such big claims

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html

Damon Pourtahmaseb-Sasi 50+ +1
Nov 8 2010: Yes? And? That supports what I said... did you mean to post that in reply to Amanda Jane's post?
Shih-Chieh Yeh +1Reply
Jul 5 2010: In other perspectiv, another important idea of success relates to happiness. People want and are willing to pursue for success mainly because of happiness. So, what interests me is how do I make the feeling of happiness last? I came up with an idea - Sharing. I remember when I was child, I had a little plant which took me considerable time to care for. One day it blossomed, and I could not wait to tell to my parents, friends, and even strangers. For me it meant the more sharing the more time my happiness would last. My happiness and success actually came from sharing my success of growing the plant. Back to the topic, owning personal success might not only mean first separating yourself from the influences of others but also decreasing the sharing of your success, which might be the real key to happiness. In other words, the recognition of success may be important (even necessary?) not just from the successful person but also from others. It seems people still need others' validation.
Richard Lockwood 0Reply
Aug 21 2010: Or would that just be bragging?
Rashi Jain 0Reply
Sep 30 2010: One man's sharing could be another man's brag. Different contexts, different perceptions.
Mehul Trivedi 0Reply
Nov 29 2010: It ain't bragging if you dunnit!
Nigel Daly +2Reply
Jun 10 2010: Truly witty and insightful! De Botton deftly analyzes the anxiety and envy pervasive in society, and he is clever to make the delightfully ironic correlation between the equality ideals of meritocracy and the "dominant emotion in modern society," envy. Envy really does operate between equals, or perceived equals. Individual responsibility is another "nasty kickback" of meritocratic societies: success is not just open to everyone, but also a pressure to achieve. So, successful people are seen as responsible for their success, and unsuccessful people for their failures.

This may make sense for Western "modern" societies, but how much does it apply to non-Western societies?
Also, the well-intentioned plea to develop your own "unaffected" standard of success, seems a bit pithy and even impossible compared to his persuasive argument about the far-reaching and seemingly inescapable clutches of anxiety, envy and the tendency to judge others. Still, knowing the problem is the first step.
Dabbie Hsu 0Reply
Jun 4 2010: By pursuing a respectful life within society's social hierarchy, we care about a marvelous career and material good; nonetheless, we find out we just take the material good for the compensation to our deficit of emotional rewards.
I agree the point of this speech. I also frequently condemn myself because of the prejudices I receive from the snobs around me. For example, sometimes I will be mistaken as a l am a lousy person just when I didn't finish my job. That's an awful experience. However, I realize that we are concerned about – and crave - people's respect and desire a good place in our social hierarchy. Therefore, the best way is to spend our daily life is by being sincere and cherishing everyday we have. In addition, setting up your own stance and being as your own boss, you will find your own value and nothing to bother us more. This, in my view, is success.
Tatiana Amendola +1Reply
May 23 2010: I used to like Alain de Botton...but now he is trying to be funny and talks like all those night tv shopping programmes...or talk shows.
Sad...

dot son888 0Reply
Jun 1 2010: good
Craig Smith +3Reply
Jun 2 2010: Maybe you have no sense of humour....sad:(
Richard Lockwood 0Reply
Aug 21 2010: That's certainly not kinder or gentler Tatiana, hmmm

hande özdemir 0Reply
May 16 2010: because ı'm a mother of 3 daughters,the speech made me think to battle against globe of snobbery for my 3 loved ones.. on the whole the speech is great !
Dominik Stadler 0Reply
Apr 18 2010: Thank you for giving us some tools to help changing the Future! Thank you TED for making the exchange of such wonderful thoughts reality.

natalie Shahrur 0Reply
Mar 27 2010: I agree with what you've written Tom. I'm truley greatful to have had the chance to come across this site and its' speakers. This talk in particular has moved me deeply. Thank you.

Ben Losi +1Reply
Mar 25 2010: De Botton explores snobbery, envy, the impossibility of pure meritocracy or justice, the end of god, the fetishization of nature, and father figures. And he somehow manages to keep it light. Yet, it's interesting that when pressed by Anderson to explain how his philosophy can work not just spiritually but economically, he veers off into his own rather theological definition of the ideal father. What I distill from this is:

Given the absence of God (The Father) from the modern consciousness, the onus of societal cohesion and personal tranquility is on parents. Fathers (and mothers?) who are tough but gentle, rather than either authoritarian or lax, must be the underpinnings of a happy society that still manages to function.

This makes sense, particularly in a rapidly decentralizing, demythologizing world. I imagine parenthood will be one of the few institutions this isn't rendered obsolete by Singularity. At least I hope. But, just how will parents attain the wisdom to pull this off?
Nazila Mathari 0Reply
Mar 2 2010: Very interesting, especially the difference between individualistic societies vs others.

Lisa Choi 0Reply
Feb 18 2010: Interesting talk! It helped me a lot to think about my career and the values of what successful life means to me. Even though you fail, that doesn't mean that you are a failure. Like that quote. Thank you Alain de Botton

Tollak Ollestad 20+ +2Reply
Feb 16 2010: Great talk that raised a lot of fascinating issues. I am particularly interested in the way that culture influences our choices, especially in this age of more and more sophisticated advertising.
Advertisers literally spend countless millions researching the ways that our reptile brain can be manipulated, and so often those who think they are the least manipulated are the most. Kind of like how salesmen are often the most susceptible to a sales pitch.
And of course implicit in these subliminal messages are feelings about success and happiness which are not necessarily our own, or at least weren't before we were exposed to the advertising. Something to consider as you ingest the onslaught of advertising from TV, billboards, placards, radio ads, internet etc. etc. all aimed at the unsuspecting primitive, reactive part of our brains.
Not to get Orwellian here, but just to highlight the point he made about whether our ideas of success and happiness are truly our own.
Christopher H 0Reply
Feb 11 2010: Success, like knowledge itself, is not an endpoint but a process. It is incredibly important to always remember this while approaching the demands of day-to-day decisions.

Therefore, if you are living according to the widest perspective possible at as many given moments as possible, you are living "successfully". And if you are not, you are living "failingly". Other than that specific definition, "failure" exists necessarily as much as "suffering".
Dimitar Nikolov 0Reply
Feb 8 2010: Interesting talk. However, de Botton didn't try to support his assertions with any sort of rigor. Especially problematic I find what I think to be one of his main themes that a meritocracy is impossible because of the presence of random factors.

Wouldn't the study of statistics and complex systems imply in a society with as many agents as today's, the effect of random factors as a whole wouldn't be significant? If this were true it would follow that the reasons for the lack (if such can be established) of meritocracy would have to be systematic and can be discovered. Any social scientists care to weigh in?

Alton Thompson +1Reply
Mar 25 2010: Not problematic at all. De Botton recognises that meritocracy is an ideal, not a fait accompli. It is impossible to achieve in the foreseeable future because things happen to people: limitations of experience when young, catastrophic ilness, cripping accidents, earthquakes and tidal waves, etc. Until you eliminate everything like that (and the world waits with bated breath to hear how you propose to banish every impoverishment, cure every illness, prevent every accident, and thwart every natural disaster), 'the element of the haphazard' will play an important role in deciding outcomes.

Society is a complex system, as you note. The presence of random factors is one of the defining features of a complex system. If such factors were insignificant, the system would a linear one rather than a complex one. So no problems exist on that point, either.
Emory King +1Reply
Feb 1 2010: I liked this talk. More people would benefit in knowing that the chance of success, although possible, is still subject to the probability of succeeding. People cannot defy the laws of probability. If more people viewed success this way, more people would feel better about themselves.
c v +1Reply
Jan 15 2010: Good question about the 'loser' in society
Jenise F 30+ +15Reply
Jan 10 2010: Wow! Amazing talk!

I remember a conversation w/ a friend who was a professional bicycle racer after a race that he came in fourth - he was tormenting himself trying to figure out why he "lost". But as I saw it there were over 200 people in the race and it was amazing he made it into the top 10 - everyone striving, doing their best but only one "winner" crossing the line within seconds of others. As I thought about it seemed like a poignant metaphor for the capitalist, meritocracy society - there are few top positions but millions in the work force, so we've created a culture where the majority of people can potentially feel like "losers" even if they've made it to 4th place so to speak and regardless of the fact that everyone's work no matter how "lowly" is necessary for things in this society to function for everyone.

Loved the wisdom, compassion and big picture outlook, thank you Mr. de Bottain and TED!

Alton Thompson +2Reply
Mar 25 2010: I love that about De Botton's discussions: reason applied in service of a humane vision.

The perfect tonic to all the peddlers of 'the secret' who surround us, promising us that to think is to get. Confidence and clear goals play an important role in success, but no trick will tame an indifferent universe and put it at your service. Much remains that the individual does not control. The numbers, for one thing--as you mention. Who among all the peddlers of positive-thinking secrets can make a coin come up heads 100 times in row?

A coin is a small thing. The universe is vast.
Jenise F 30+ +3Reply
Apr 19 2010: It is interesting that a lot of the "positive thinking" and "secret" kinds of paradigms have to do with getting and getting things.

There was a woman who was a toll booth collector who said with clear sincerity "God bless you" to every driver that came through her stall. When I drove away I always felt like a sweet rain of kindness had just come down on me and was reminded of how much my own kindness can help those I come in contact with in the world and it encouraged me in that regard. I would imagine she didn't have a lot materially with a job like that but what she was giving, to hundreds of people a day, was profound - her own human kindness.

There are plenty of people who have money or fame and may seem from the outside that they've got it all and so have it all figured out, but who knows really when true success is an intimate and profound journey and can have little do with what is tangible or even what we have but rather what we're giving away.

Geoff G 50+ +3Reply
Apr 23 2010: I dont subscribe to the secret specifically (the dollar is king morality it comes packaged with doesnt appeal to me) but the whole "Law of Attraction" thing is based on some common-sense tenets.
First, I think its important that you recognize that no one is claiming to be able to manipulate coins with their minds. Positive thinking doesn't unlock dormant telekinetic abilities; it alters experience more than reality. It isn't especially complicated to conclude that a person who thinks more about his positive experiences than his negative ones will probably be a little cheerier. And I know that when I'm in a good mood I'm more approachable, alert and productive - mental states in which my goals are significantly more likely to be achieved.
Like any religion, the LoA describes the effects of values we all know to be useful (optimism, perseverance, focus) with vague metaphysical forces because its easier to remember and integrate metaphors than it is to follow some authority's dry advice.

Geoff G 50+ +2Reply
Apr 23 2010: Sorry to ramble. Wrapping it up:
If you can function without religion and the metaphors it provides to encourage good behavior, that may turn out to be for the better, but people on both sides of the debate ought to stop being distracted by the etiological myths religions use to convey their strikingly similar messages and start paying attention to the message itself. Too many Atheists throw the baby out with the bathwater; too many believers forget the baby's in there and let the poor thing drown.
Carla Smith 0Reply
Apr 27 2010: "You have to believe in Happiness
It isn't an outward thing...
The spring never makes the song, I guess
As much as the song makes the spring."

Anonymous author

I've had this quote for years and it keeps coming back to me.

Cameron McDonald 10+ +1Reply
Jan 3 2010: I always appreciate Chris Anderson coming on stage to learn more from speakers. This is a speaker to learn from for sure. Success should be defined by individuals.

Bhaskara Rao 0Reply
Dec 31 2009: Brilliant. Decision making under uncertainty should be realised. Outcome depends on individual philosophies. My philosophy is that if one makes 10 decisions and 8 succeed, then it is a success. If only 2 succeed it is failure. Failures are not bad. Learn from them to make better decisions in the future.

Kevin Shabahan +1Reply
Dec 31 2009: Very interesting analysis of some commonly negated social issues affecting perhaps all people on an individual level. I like how Mr. Botton's realist perspective on society doesn't fail to have optimistic and empowering undertones; he allures the audience towards seeing the liberation each individual is endowed with but also expounds the "anxiety" that ensues from the responsibility this personal freedom brings. Furthermore, he clarifies the way the status of each individual is not linked to his/her complete free-will and is still bounded with certain determinants, that are rather unalterable by the individual him/herself.

Jenny Ma +1Reply
Dec 22 2009: Excellent talk. I really appreciate that he didn't pigeonhole the definition of success.

Ivan Petakov 50+ +8Reply
Dec 20 2009: Apart from the interesting topic itself, Mr. Botton speaks with such a light and pleasent to listen flow of thoughts, encrusted with sarcastic and maybe English humour. For example: "The next time you see somebody driving a Ferrari, don't think this is somebody who is greedy, think this is somebody who is incredibly vulnerable and in need of love." I always thought of people driving expensive cars in a similar way but it never occured to me to express it in such a genious way. I can listen to such narrators for hours, like honey for your ears and mind :) Thumbs up for Mr. Botton, Im going to buy his book now.
Rajesh Sampathkumar 30+ +4Reply
Dec 20 2009: When I faced rebuke about my ideas of what I should do with my life and professional goals, I thought back to this talk by Alain de Botton. He is talking good sense in this talk, all the way. We need a kinder, gentler, philosophy of success - there's no other way to survive in a meritocracy that entails the sea of humanity we live in and will be living in, in the future. Thanks, Alain for speaking on this specific topic. I hope at least a few people become less judgmental and more compassionate by listening to this.

Ramananda Sengupta 20+ 0Reply
TED ATTENDEE
Dec 16 2009: folks, here is an interview with the man: http://sify.com/news/Alain-de-Botton-on-airports-critics-a-fish-imagegallery-Features-jmor8Phegcj.html

Ivan Petakov 50+ +4Reply
Dec 12 2009: Amazing talk, the concept of the evolution from "unfortunate" to "looser" seems to have bent our look (gaze) at the reality of success, failure and justice. I think now it is much harder to filter all the information you are given from the media in order to choose what you realy want to achieve and whether you can actually do it.
P.S.: Excuse me for my bad English.

Erik van Ryssen 20+ 0Reply
Nov 7 2009: Amongst other things, an inspiring journey through our (mis)perception of social definitions. I enjoyed very much, and look forward to the possible offspring of this presentation into my day to day life.
Indigo Dingo 0Reply
Nov 6 2009: A great warning to those of us who try to simplify complex ideas, and come across as well, too simple. We should feel sorry for a Ferrari driver as he needs love - and this gets a laugh from the audience? C'mon, we knew that in high-school the try-hards were inherently insecure! It saddens me to think of how such obvious statements "we are not defined purely by our work", "we should find our own internal measure of success instead of measuring ourself against the materialistic or status based aims of the world" and "we should feel sorry for people worse off than us" is seen as amazing and inspiring. Well done Mr Botton, you know your audience well, your work is clearly needed, and I am once again disappointed by the so called intellects of our times.

Ivan Petakov 50+ +7Reply
Dec 12 2009: Indigo, I think its not whether we all know that statements already, its that Mr Botton reminds us of them. I'll give you an example. In ancient Rome, the Roman generals had a slave which always stays behind them and even on days of great victory, the slave whispered at the ear of the general: "Memento mori" - poetically translated: Remember you are a mortal. I think that Botton takes a similar role in this talk. Even if we know all these "cliche" phrases, we constantly forget them and fall in the whirl of society.
P.S.: Excuse me for my bad English.

david pinto 0Reply
Oct 23 2009: he's following a path of wisdom :)
looking forward to how he ages
a potential global player :)

Johannes Martin 50+ 0Reply
Oct 21 2009: "Food for thought", I completely agree on that. There was one weak though when he talked about our openness to suggestions. Of course we are open, but I think we need to be. Not always do we have enought insight and knowledge to completely judge what is right and what is wrong. Even though this means neglecting own thoughts and values, it can be a necessary "shortcut" to rely on statements of others. The challenge at this is however, to carefully evaluate the validity of those statements.

eduardo blasina +2Reply
Oct 19 2009: Really a good one. A manifesto for everyday living. Food for thought.
why khan 0Reply
Oct 18 2009: Truly inspirational

Cecil Marton 50+ +4Reply
Oct 17 2009: would make me feel like studying a dr of philosophy if I could write music or have some spare time.
thanks.

Victor Tomassini 0Reply
Oct 15 2009: Wonderful!

krishnamurthi ramachandran 0Reply
Oct 15 2009: Dear Mr.Alian, de Botton.,
Well and wish to hear the same from you.
Now, i am listening of your wonderful speech on todays problems and solutions for carrying on our business by smooth manners.
Thanks for giving and pin pointing of our existing confusions,trials and tribulations of our modern day today life.
You have mentioned the greater roles played by our mother and other close relatives,friends,teachers and our immediate well wishers are praise worthy.
You might be aware of differences, confused notions on race,color,sex,western and Asian religious philosophy,non understanding of latest world conflicts, amassing of over wealth etc.
The above subjects,till today, we are not able to get a correct solutions.
To sum up, we should think that,we are all human beings, be rational ,be free and frank,open sharing of our joys and sorrows with all,equal respects to all philosophies for better living and have a transparent and peaceful life for ever.
Thanks to this website for broadcasting it

Tom Currier +2Reply
Oct 14 2009: I am always impressed with TED talks, particularly those which promote any kinder, gentler approach to ourselves and others. Well done, I wholeheartedly agree.

Yossi Morgenstern 0Reply
Oct 14 2009: It is a great reminder to me of the great chalange: How to consider The Other without forgetting myself.
orita akitaka 0Reply
Oct 9 2009: Dear Alain de Botton,
I listen to your talk.
I think your idea is very nice.
I have confidence in my self.
Thanks a lot.
Benjamin DeBuse +3Reply
Sep 23 2009: The focus that stood out for me of in this talk was the role of fortune and of the tragedy of failure in a persons life not how we determine success. A more generous and charitable focus of thought such as the time spent with some one we don't know and didn't expect to like because of who they seemed to be was the important consequences of thinking about success differently not redefining success. It is learning to understand and accept failure in ourselves and others without describing the losses inevitably involved as making one a loser.

Alton Thompson 0Reply
Oct 14 2009: Thanks to Alain de Botton for reminding us of realities long observed, and as often forgotten.

'Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all.'

- Ecc 9.11 NRSV

Alice jennings +1Reply
Sep 17 2009: A little self love and a luxury available only to few (that of raising fairly obvious facts to the level of deep philosophical strings of thoughts). Knowing the personal lineage of Mr de Botton makes this talk very relative in relevance or worth. School of the obvious on a bed of citations from a no doubt highly exclusive educational background...

Turil Cronburg 30+ +1Reply
Sep 17 2009: Success is always a combination of the internal environment of the self and the external environment of the rest of the universe. So I completely agree with de Botton when he says that to some extent whatever level of success you have achieved in a certain pursuit is based on arbitrary luck. Thus "justice" is indeed arbitrary, and impossible, as is a system solely based on meritocracy.

Instead, we can be more realistic and work to create a society that is structured on the idea of nurturing each individual so that they have the resources they need to grow towards their ideal selves. This means that we have a goal to be an environment that supports individuals (of all species) in being as successful as possible in whatever area of life they are most motivated.

We can acknowledge that everyone has the potential to be successful in some area, and that the best way to make that happen is give people the basic resources they need to pursue their own dreams.
Bill Nussbaumer +1Reply
Sep 9 2009: An interesting talk. Without over-analyzing, something feels wrong in our culture and by extension ... my life. His talk feels right. One may debate the details, but It feels like he's hitting on a major reason why.

He missed connecting the dots a little on the queen We don't identify with her because she's seen as a product of a historical system outside of our meritocracy. It's easy to dismiss that her station was afforded by luck of birth. It's "old school" to envy someone because they were born into a wealthy or connected family. It would be easier to envy someone that won the lottery. That feels achievable in comparison to being born the queen of England.

The tabloid headlines were funny, though a bit of irony there as he and the audience stooped to a bit of "job snobbery" as they passed judgment on the tabloid employee's knowledge of literature (or lack there-of).

Menaf Gul 0Reply
Sep 7 2009: I have been watching this video for many times and I really agree with the idea of the success that the speaker explaining. Especially if you have lived in both western and eastern culture this talk will point many points that have different perspective that eastern and western cultures see.
Maria Khan +1Reply
Sep 7 2009: A good talk. He took 15 minutes to explain something that can be summarised in a saying of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) "Tie your camel and place your trust in Allah"

Which means do all that is within your capability, and then leave the rest to God. Islam is such a beautiful religion if only people would see.
Jack P 0Reply
Sep 3 2009: de Botton is just saying the most popular notions of success in contemporary society aren't necessarily the ones that you should follow.

Maybe there's too much over-analysis
Marcin M. 10+ +1Reply
Sep 2 2009: I love the talk. I had read a "Status Anxiety" by him a few years ago. Alain gives us a great lesson on how to relate to ourselves, and how to relax counter-productive emotions. I'd reccomend "Ferdydurke" by Gombrowicz, "The Third Policeman" by Flann O'brien and "Espume de Jours" by Boris Vian to those really interested in the subject. "Cien ans de solitudad" by Garcia-Marquez is falling in the cathegory as well. He is not about the rules. Alain is talking about most important techniques to free your mind from barriers to creativity. "He laughed to free his mind from his mind's bondage" - James Joyce, Ulissess.
Vanessa Voskuil +1Reply
Oct 2 2009: Beautiful quote. I'll look into the recommendations also. Thank you.

Hélène Coté 50+ +1Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 31 2009: I was flabbergasted when I was asked by one of my students (an upcoming snob?) why I did not aspire to becoming more than "just" a teacher. My reply " 'cause I really like teaching" seemed to disappoint her. I suspect she felt that success was that all-too-famous ladder and that I had, well.. stopped climbing it.

This talk and the string of comments have given me a few answers. Essentially, I better understand why my student felt let down, and I also know why I become so frustrated with those "reality" shows (on American, Canadian television) where the *successful * ones (winners) are determined by others' standards, and subsequent "losers" are selected, singled out, "kicked off" the show, humiliated and often even ridiculed. Why is attitude popularized?

As Alain points out, we rely far too much on outside sources (such as media, peers, Siimon Cowell, etc.) to measure or determine what success is......and, consequently, what a "loser" is.
His talk is optimistic, refreshing...
Lewis Caine 10+ +2Reply
Aug 30 2009: This is what TED should be. Pure ideas. Succinct, powerful, clear. TED should get back to booking more often gentlemen similar to de Botton.

Karina Barrios 0Reply
Aug 29 2009: Muy realista e interesante el planteamiento del se

Elisa Santos T. 10+ 0Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Oct 14 2009: De acuerdo, Karina. La nocion de exito estipulada por la sociedad en donde vivimos a veces no refleja una realidad imparcial. Como Tomas Edison, cuando los repostreres le preguntaron, despues de intentar encontrar un filamento de lampada por 5000 veces, si no iba a desistir despues de tanto fracaso, al que el les contesto' "fracaso en lo que Uds. tienen en mente. Yo, estoy 5000 veces mas cerca de la solucion".
Joseph Linnett 0Reply
Aug 27 2009: "I don't think it's us. I think it's the society we live in"...?

Zack Bellman 0Reply
Aug 24 2009: This guy covers many points, and makes a good point., about success and our course to the "success". But, it seems he is trying to sort of popularize some philosophical ideas and he goes over some points very sketchily. I.e when he talks about "worshiping" humans now and how we use to worship greater life forms and demi-gods and believe in natural phenomena. He briefly covers it, but this guy is basically when you boil it down, talking about how we should look at the world, and is just simply putting out there with alot of decoration to stop believing in other peoples bullshit and worrying about ourselves in terms of " success" or " Faliure "

Just throwing this one out there, kinda far fetches stuff. Theres an absolute genius of a man called Terence Mckenna, if you are one of those people who really like to think Metaphysically and are interested in psyche and living. Check out his talks, they are absolutely astonishing and the mans mind is so delineated and fabricated on this idea
rafael marchante +1Reply
Aug 25 2009: sorry to say this Zack, but I have the feeling that you have not spent enough time trying to understand what Alain is saying here, I say this because your comment on it seems to be quite generalized and ultimately tangential to what he speaks about... it is ok to suggest McKenna if you think it will benefit people... but I would suggest that the next time you comment on a video you really try to say something that relates to the video... i think saying that he goes over certain points very sketchily is unjustified, the talk is quite well structured, it has the right amount of comedy to it and it follows a very solid argument. He goes through stuff quickly because he has a limited amount of time, but he expresses his ideas effectively.
I totally endorse his view, I though a lot of what he says before hearing him say it.... but beyond agreeing or disagreeing with the content, i think the formal and logical expression is impeccable.
Morgaine O'Herne +3Reply
Aug 24 2009: I suppose I too could take apart this talk piece by piece and nitpik it to death, but I'm still busy reacting to it on a purely emotional level. How refreshing to hear someone say that luck really is a factor in success. This is the first thing that has given me hope in a long time.
Augusto Teixeira 10+ 0Reply
Aug 23 2009: Just one more thing to add to this great talk.

The way we judge other people has a lot of influence in the importance we give to the opinion of others. If one keeps stigmatizing, he/she will be more vulnerable to the fear of being considered a 'loser'.
Will Rice 0Reply
Aug 20 2009: A fascinating and inspiring speech. Indeed why do we have to define success by the terms dictated to us by society? It's disappointing de Botton does not put together more clearly what he says about snobbery in the beginning and what he goes on to conclude about success: most people DO define success on their own terms: achieving at whatever they're good at. The trouble is what de Botton defines as snobbery, namely that so many people judge others based on their own definition of success.

A true meritocracy is one in which not only is each individual allowed full exploration of her talents but also in which each individual is aided by others in finding what those talents are. Success is attained not only by accomplishing one's own goals, but also by helping others to accomplish theirs. Success is then universal, because everyone succeeds in their own way.
Jimely Flores 10+ +1Reply
Aug 18 2009: I love this. It is a reminder for all of us to look back in ourselves and become more human.

Cheryl Lawson 0Reply
Aug 13 2009: I really enjoyed this talk. Kind of reminds me of the Matrix.
Juniper Dallenbach 0Reply
Aug 13 2009: Africa's Secret: GABON 30 August election tragically under threat. After embezzling dictator of 41 yrs Bongo dies, ruling party tries to force dynastic successor, his son Ali. http://tiny.cc/01Ddg. Candidate www.Moubamba.com calls for democracy and end to brutal poverty in oil rich Gabon. Support change in Africa

Tom Haig +4Reply
Aug 12 2009: If you liked this I would strongly recommend Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers'. The idea that success is a lot more 'haphazard' as de Botton would say is examined closely in there, and he comes up with a conclusion that seemed to me to point strongly away from individualistic determiners for success. Something that I thought de Botton may have mentioned is the 'Matthew Effect', which is an observed phenomenon in education, sociology etc.. from Matthew 25:29 "For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
Jason Warren 20+ 0Reply
Aug 17 2009: Great talk, it made me think about _Outliers_, too.
Aida Mehonic +2Reply
Aug 20 2009: It made me think about Fooled by Randomness (Nassim Taleb).
He presents an articulate account of the role of chance not only in personal life, but also in more quantifiable spheres, such as making investment decisions or (especially) trading on the financial markets... and how much it costs the society to underestimate the role of chance (the "black swan" events).
Outliers picks up on this theme, if I'm correct. It's exciting to see how a paradigm shift of a sort is taking place in popular writing. It's about correcting for some of the cognitive biases, such as making up stories of success with the benefit of hindsight.
Jonathan Cano +2
Sep 28 2009: Foold by Randomness immediately came to my mind too. I play poker as a hobby and one thing studying the mathematics of poker teaches players is there is far far far more variance (randomness) that people who don't study the math can ever conceive.

I love Taleb's hammering home the point that the rich (successful) are frequently just lucky rather than smart.

Robert Whited +1Reply
Oct 25 2009: Outliers stressed the importance of opportunity and the ever-changing zeitgeist, Alain seems more focused on how we as humans should process that.

By the way, anyone with a rich dad will be the first to tell you they earned their keep.

daniel sutka +1Reply
Aug 10 2009: great talk..
i agree..
Nathen Westfield 0Reply
Aug 12 2009: I agree an absolutely amazing talk

Doris Mugherli 0Reply
Aug 9 2009: I liked his definition of snobbery.Clever

Elisa Sly 20+ +1Reply
ASSOCIATE
Aug 9 2009: I think learning from others is the best success.This is why I love TED.
Victoria Samra 10+ +2Reply
Aug 8 2009: I think the need for success is a social projection itself, I think the human need is for something more basic. I understand what Wendy Howard has to say about the "no success without failure" so the most basic element that humans need must be something that does not have a corresponding 'yang' but is singularly good.

I like his theory about nature being the new subject of spirituality, I have often thought 'why is everybody selling pseudo-enviromentalism?' (this is the first time I've heard that, but my mom tells me it's not new)

I am saddened by a society who places a monetary value on human life. (The conservatives tell me this will become a reality if the universal health care system plan goes through, you know, with invalids and premature babies being left to die and all that)

So in closing: anarchy burger, hold the government!
Wendy Howard 0Reply
Aug 8 2009: (Apologies for double posting. Tried to edit the punctuation and this is what happened. Have tried repeatedly to delete duplicate post. It appears to go then reappears on reload.)
Wendy Howard +1Reply
Aug 8 2009: I found this talk frustrating. So near and yet so far. Its greatest success was in highlighting the intrinsic sense of failure driving those who chase success. Its worst failure (especially for a philosopher) was ignoring the essential interdependence between dualistic concepts. There is no 'success' without 'failure', the same as there is no light without dark. They're two sides of the same coin. Each is necessary in order to define the other. As Syndrome says in The Incredibles. "When everyone's super, no one will be!"

And what about the inherent subjectivity in all this? The extent to which any of us buy into this currency and find ourselves emotionally swayed by it is highly individual and the product of far too many factors to list in 1000 characters. Any perceived consensus is illusory and mostly projection. If de Botton wants to stop weeping into his pillow, then he needs to redefine his own relationship to these abstract concepts and get a bit more comfortable in his own skin.
Robert Evans +1Reply
Aug 20 2009: I am not sure that I am fully qualified to enter this discussion, but to me, the dualistic concept is misleading. Both success and failure have value in learning. The two sides of the coin are doing something and not doing something. The primary thing worth measuring is did you intervene. This shows intent, will, self-esteem, at the very least a belief that you make a difference.
From then on, its a matter of seeking the "right" idea, behaviour etc... somethings may be subjected to a scientific approach, reproducible, provable etc, others are personal matters of opinion. But all should draw comfort from the fact that they sought for what was "right".
Nyan Storey 20+ +1Reply
Aug 29 2009: That is an important point actually . In order to change the world, change your attitude to the world. It is an important clarification on his speach to also point out the importance of changing your view of the world - measure a "loser" by a different standard and they become a "success", in the same way that somebody who is beautiful here would be ugly in tribes in Papua New Guinea and vice versa. All of these things are subjective. At the end of the day you can almost replace success with self esteem, but I also think that this is a point which is completely compatible with and complementary to what he said.
Nyan Storey 20+ 0Reply
Aug 29 2009: That is an important point actually . In order to change the world, change your attitude to the world. It is an important clarification on his speach to also point out the importance of changing your view of the world - measure a "loser" by a different standard and they become a "success", in the same way that somebody who is beautiful here would be ugly in tribes in Papua New Guinea and vice versa. All of these things are subjective. At the end of the day you can almost replace success with self esteem, but I also think that this is a point which is completely compatible with and complementary to what he said.
Wendy Howard 0Reply
Aug 8 2009: I found this talk frustrating. So near and yet so far. Its greatest success was in highlighting the intrinsic sense of failure driving those who chase success. Its worst failure (especially for a philosopher) was ignoring the essential interdependence between dualistic concepts. There is no 'success' without 'failure', the same as there is no light without dark. They're two sides of the same coin. Each is necessary in order to define the other. As Syndrome says in The Incredibles. "When everyone's super, no one will be!%u201D

And what about the inherent subjectivity in all this? The extent to which any of us buy into this currency and find ourselves emotionally swayed by it is highly individual and the product of far too many factors to list in 1000 characters. Any perceived consensus is illusory and mostly projection. If de Botton wants to stop weeping into his pillow, then he needs to redefine his own relationship to these abstract concepts and get a bit more comfortable in his own skin.

Daniel Maree 0Reply
Aug 7 2009: I saw de Botton speak at the Getty recently about his new book "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work". He's brilliant, no doubt, but in that speech and this one he borrows heavily from Jose Enrique Rodo, specifically Rodo's "Ariel", without so much as mentioning Rodo. I just think he'd be doing his audiences a favor by providing them with a little philosophical/historical context. I guess I should just be happy he's read Rodo and is passing on the message. Thanks Alain!
Alina Klein 0Reply
Aug 7 2009: I like what Mr. Botton said about not being able to "have it all." I interviewed a woman who had had a very successful career in the business world, and she said something similar to this when I asked her about being an executive, raising a family, etc... She said to me, "Do I think you can have it all? Yes, I do think you can have it all. You just can't have it all at once."

The whole idea of success and failure is something that I also am curious to hear more about...While I am a big proponent of personal responsibility, I also have a soft spot for people who come up on hard times...where do you draw the line though so that while we are "gentle but tough", we do not create victimization?

Cheers!
Paul Zeke +1Reply
Aug 6 2009: I really like how he draws the line between "an unfortunate" and "a loser". I think that's an important distinction. I know some people who are losers, they've brought about their own ill, but I also know plenty of people who are merely unfortunate, who got dealt a bad hand.

Max Kater +3Reply
Aug 5 2009: Alain de Botton: the thinking girl's totty! What a seriously sexy mind...
Richard Panfil 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: Success and Failure are both reasons for anxiety, it's depends though on your view of life as a whole. I like the fact that he quoted Augustine but I can take it one step further and quote the Bible as Paul wrote in Philippians.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 NASB
Andreas Olsson 50+ +1Reply
Aug 5 2009: Great great talk. I fully agree and I have been living by these views for a long time. I disgust the question: "So what do you do?" and I usually reply either : "Alot" or "Do you think that I am such an unintresting person that I am what I work with" depending on the mood I am in. A problem, is for the people who do live by these views because we are constantly asked the most shallow questions when all we really want is to know people, understand ideas and reason on a deeper level and noone is by any means difined by their work or career. Let us face it. There is nothing special about working and having a title. As it is we all need money to survive. I would argue that the only thing that makes people want a career and title is because it heps them protect their identity, which should not in any case be confused with ego.
Marcin M. 10+ 0Reply
Sep 6 2009: Well said. Functionally we will always try to find the proof of one's value, however it may not represent any vital qualities. Anyway there is functional mechanism working. De Botton deals not with functionalism directly, but tells us how to be not completely immersed into it. On another hand there're some dangers in his perspective. Popular movements such as catholic church or facism combine popular sentiments with functionalism. Mostly De Bottom perspective falls into the cathegory of romanticism, which was able to give a rise of nations on one hand, and nationalism on the other hand. If his idea is kept individually it is productive. If it is a common idea, it is a dictatorship of devotees.

Jane Doe 0Reply
Sep 7 2009: What's the next stage, what will we worship next? It went from a Higher power, to us and now we are starting to relise there are others? hmm.....

What about people who don't live in our world? They don't have identities to us, so they are like the biggest losers...? So many people fall through.

hmmm
Alan Coady +2Reply
Aug 5 2009: Best TED pun yet:

"when banking's no longer respectable, we lose interest."
Mehret Aberra Abebe 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: Very inspiring !!! Thank you

Khon Lieu 30+ +3Reply
Aug 5 2009: I loved this talk. This is a very complex and emotional subjects. After reading some of the comments, I think he might not have made his case as clearly and eloquently as he liked, but I think the message he%u2019s trying to get across is that there is randomness in the success of individuals. Not so much random as in, as in it makes no sense, but random as in an individual can%u2019t always control all things. Coming from a time period which subscribes heavily on the, %u201Cyou can achieve anything%u201D idea, we forget how much our environment shapes who we are, therefore shapes our day to day actions and reactions to our environment.

I highly recommend the book %u201COutliers%u201D by Malcolm Gladwell to anyone who wants to know more. It%u2019s a great eye opening book.

Great talk!
Aidan Brumsickle 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: I really liked this talk, it really resonated with me. His discussion of how random factors effect our success and failure reminds me of Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers, which looks at the factors outside the self that contributed to the rise of some of society's most successful people, among other things.

dermot walshe 20+ 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: Another wonderful lecture .

Yes...the Job Snobbery is a real human flaw .

In the world of animation production that I live in brilliant gifted people are often presumed to be ( and treated as ) dimwitted children . It's completely untrue of course......many artists I know could easily have gained PHDs in some field.....but it doesn't suit their nature.

A perfect meritocracy is of course impossible ; if it was easy to just put the "BEST" people in charge it would have been done.....peace and luxury would abound.......but it doesn't.


Strangely Alain still calls on us to define our own success instead of perhaps throwing the word out . He said that in order to be successful in one area one will lose in others....but Alain you fell into your own trap again .

Perhaps those 2 words ( success and failure ) can be put away..... realizing wisdom or enlightenment may be just as satisfying as a ferrari .

I know which one I'd rather have when I'm 70 !
Alexander Mansilya-Kruz 10+ 0Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 5 2009: This is a brilliant talk, and I agree with most of de Botton's points, but the final conclusion is so gross an oversimplification that it is fairly useless. "Let's make sure our ideas of success are truly our own"' he says. But what does that really mean? All in all, we only have two sources of goals: genetic and social. (That is, if you are a secular-minded person like de Botton and myself.) If we renounce any notions of success that are "imposed" on us by society, that only leaves us with our innate, animal objectives: survive and leave offspring. There may not be anything wrong with that in itself, but it's hardly the unique individual vision de Botton would like. The idea that any one of us can set her or his own objectives as opposed to taking them from other people is pure self-deception. The honest view would be that we can choose which socially suggested goals to pursue and what priority to assign to each of them; and even that choice is not free from social pressures.
Ryan Borker 0Reply
Aug 4 2009: The point here in my opinion is a psychological truth--we seek to control everything, but we are unable to. This 'randomness' is exactly what prevents us from getting to 'justice' and true meritocracy. Accepting this randomness was part of the ancient way of life and devoted to the actions of the 'gods'. In the modern secular society the idea that things are out of our control is palpably distasteful--the hubris evident in today's systematic crash (cf. Long Term Capital Management).

Maybe I'm attacking too much for a comment, but much like another Ted talk's (appreciate the reference if you know which) about genius, which in the past came from outside, but now disturbingly resides within.

I think one of his main messages is that we need to accept chaos/randomness and the problems it poses to our modern ideas of success, justice and merit.

Hervard Olander Merved 0Reply
Aug 4 2009: I agree with your hyposisis regarding that humans want to contol evrything. But I think that is a given....

You write: "I think one of his main messages is that we need to accept chaos/randomness and the problems it poses to our modern ideas of success, justice and merit."

I don't think that at all.
I think the problem is in the very idea that our society is perfect, and that many people think that an alien influence would polute this. Instead of thinking; that maybe that very alien ingredient, would bring something good to your imaculate garden. Maybe the problem is that our ideas of a modern society, justice and merit, isn't what we thought it would be.
Ryan Borker 0Reply
Aug 4 2009: What does your bottom paragraph mean? What is this alien influence? And what would it bring?

I'm not sure what exactly you're advancing. Could you define 'our ideas of a modern society, justice and merit'?

My point with chaos/randomness is that we are held accountable for the things that we can't control; as opposed to assuming powerlessness and facing punishment when we strive against it (hubris), we now face complete and total empowerment and are held accountable when random events occur.
Andrew Lundsgaard 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: He's dead wrong about meritocracy. Pushing up the cream of the crop does not imply that there is bad below. Is milk bad just because it's below the cream? That means that criminals can never reform, no one can mend there ways. There are no late bloomers.

The Judeo-Christian mindset is to "forgive and forget". The American secular version is "let bygones be bygones". This allows those that seek to rise will rise. Or can re-rise.

His premise also rationalizes a class system as static. Bunk here in the States.

My definition of a snob: a finely educated hick.

He also needs to read "The No Assholes Rule" to widen his view that successful people only think being harsh to your employees is the only way to motivate them.

And he gives no practical alternatives to Meritocracy and Justice as practiced in the West. It ain't prefect, but it's best we've seen so far. That's why it's seen as so hard to change.

As those that punch the clock would say: "he's full of it.
Amanda Moss +1Reply
Aug 5 2009: Tell that to my High School teachers who looked at me with shock and dismay when I started working there as a janitor.

I daresay the majority of people in NA societies view blue collar workers as somehow less than white collar. Or, even worse, people who receive social assistance.

Yet perfectly intelligent and capable people can and do work at McDonalds.

People do judge others, prejudge others, based on employment. And it just is not an accurate measuring stick of someone's value.

dermot walshe 20+ 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: Snobbery comes from ignorance and lack of an ability to relate . In extremes it can lead to literally losing your head ( ask Marie! )
I don't agree that we seek to control everything though....a great many know that's also impossible .
I'm not religous....but the serenity prayer is the old axiom that one should accept the things one cannot change / have the courage to change the things one can......and find the WISDOM to know the difference . That prayer originated supposedly from one artist supporting another when only one could afford to work as a painter ; once the two established themselves financially it was too late for the second artist to become "successful" as an artist........but they didn't think of themselves as failures as far as legend has it .

Hervard Olander Merved 0Reply
Aug 4 2009: I must agree with Alain de Botton, from a personal point of view, about his anthropological observations. I guess that what he states is that we have exchanged the moral codex of worshipping/pleasing our god(s), to worshipping/pleasing ourself, understading that we are our own gods in a way. And in the exchange we traded our fear of intangible gods to the fear of very tangible self's. Old anxiety in a new frame of mind, and pressure in places we have never felt before (more suicides). Not the fear of no, but the fear of yes. The pressure of having to do something you are not sure of is the right thing to do (for yourself). But, you do it anyway because of low selfesteem and "peer" pressure that presides today.
Robert Lampe 0Reply
Aug 4 2009: Suzanne
Robert Lampe 0Reply
Aug 4 2009: Great and funny.
t headle 0Reply
Aug 3 2009: "Don't be a snob," and "Rethink the real meaning of success."
1st point is Marx's critique of commodity fetishism.
2nd point, Aristotle's critique of Plato's theory of happiness.

He seems to understand that meritocracy is system of deserts, but he is way off everywhere else. He says that meritocracy makes you feel bad about your failures and good about your successes because the individual is held as the subject of blame or praise, not the gods. His description of our society is right, but the label for that condition is "na
t headle 0Reply
Aug 3 2009: His two main points seem to be "Don't be a snob," and "Rethink the real meaning of success." The first is the point of Marx's critique of commodity fetishism, the second is the point of Aristotle's critique of Plato's theory of happiness.

Botton seems to understand that meritocracy is system of deserts, but he is way off everywhere else. He says that meritocracy makes you feel bad about your failures and good about your successes because the individual is held as the subject of blame or praise, not the gods. His description of our society is right, but the label for that condition is "na
Martha Kreeger +1Reply
Aug 3 2009: Alain do Botton's talk is particularly relevant to parenting and working with stressed out teenagers. I believe his discussion of the dangers inherent in our definition of success and failure goes to the heart of the issue with stressed out teens. As parents and educators a teenager's definition of success is rarely developed from within, it is instead cobbled together from the teens perceptions of what the people most important to them value. Teenagers were once upon a time primarily focused on their interpretations of their parents and sibling values but by the time they hit junior high and high school, they spend many years being "me focused" and intensely influenced by their peers. This shift comes when they are suddenly free to make some truly dangerous choices. If we can look at the myths of success in popular culture and education, I believe we can foster student leadership to remake that black and white all or nothing definition of success into something healthier.

Rick van der Pluijm 100+ 0Reply
TED ATTENDEETED TRANSLATORASSOCIATE
Aug 3 2009: I was fortunate enough to see this fantastic talk at TEDGlobal 2009. A very interesting and funny talk.

Ann Throp 0Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 3 2009: The KIND mindset I dig.
andi stamp +1Reply
Aug 3 2009: Respect. It's good to be one of the global value pump's meaning filter scrubbers - just remember to take loads of hols or you might overdo it & get badly. Ignore philosophy%u2019s arcane challenge of interrogating the thought, wisdom & knowledge of our life fulfilling psychestyles implying the death & destruction of all else. 97% of the primate hominid population liberated from the burden of career overload stress at one deft turn of phrase. Genius pureified in prosterity for all perpetuities sake. Well done
Randy Koval 0Reply
Aug 2 2009: I find it interesting that most of the readers' remarks to the video, pertain to how others are/aren't successful, but there's not much reflection on the self in this equation. Others don't make you successful or unsuccessful. I suggest that many of you need more years under your belt, which is called experience although experience is worthless ... Read Moreunless it's accompanied by reflection. Successes without insights are failures and failures with insights are successes. If you chase the goals which bring joy/happiness, you're on the road to success. The reality is that you're always on the road but it's the process of moving towards that target which is defined as success. If you define success as how much money you make, there's a negative correlation between money and happiness Since the goal of job satisfaction is replaced by money, you will never have enough money and you will lose interest in the job or your family. Even though I'm not rich, I've had a quite happy life.
Richard Davis 0Reply
Aug 3 2009: yeah tell that to the guy who cant feed his kids because of what billionaire bankers did to the economy, i suppose he should think that gaining the insight that his job wasnt as secure as he thought as a success? Its easy to talk about this sort of spiritualistic abstraction if you are a well educated middle class westerner. what a lame comment -1
Randy Koval 0Reply
Aug 3 2009: I sense a little sacasm as well as stupidity. How can you label my comment as spiritualism "abstraction" when there are so many people who are successful because of the above. Many people who you would consider unsuccessful have become quite successful not based on your negative blame the world attitude but based on their unwillingness to give up and not believing that events just happen to them without any control. Watch the news buddy and you'll see lots of non-middle class uneducated westeners who have made lemonade out of lemons. Obviously, you're not one of them.
Randy Koval 0Reply
Aug 3 2009: Nice try. I sense a bit of sarcasm in your response. I thought your phrase "spiritualism abstraction" was interesting. How can something be an abstraction when it's working for me and others. Open you eyes and look around you. There are many people in the world who you would have considered failures but became successful because they decided not to believe that things happen to them randomly. Unlike you, they've stopped blaming others and the world for their problems and took control and your brain will burst when you find out that so many of these folks are not well educated middle class westerners as your stereotyping suggests. Wake up Richard. If you're so mad and unhappy with the world now, you have nothing to lose to change your beliefs and behavior. Those who keep believing and behaving in the same way, keep repeating their mistakes and end up with the same results. You can choose to be angry at the world. That's your choice and good luck.
Randy Koval 0Reply
Aug 2 2009: I find it interesting that most of the readers' remarks to your post, pertain to how others are/aren't successful, but there's not much reflection on the self in this equation. Others don't make you successful or unsuccessful. I suggest that many of you need more years under your belt, which is called experience although experience is worthless ... Read Moreunless it's accompanied by reflection. Successes without insights are failures and failures with insights are successes. If you chase the goals which bring joy/happiness, you're on the road to success. The reality is that you're always on the road but it's the process of moving towards that target which is defined as success. If you define success as how much money you make, there's a negative correlation between money and happiness Since the goal of job satisfaction is replaced by money, you will never have enough money and you will lose interest in the job or your family. Even though I'm not rich, I've had a quite happy life.
Nicole Ranger 20+ 0Reply
ASSOCIATE
Aug 1 2009: I was absolutely thrilled and delighted by this talk .. period .. full stop.
Richard Davis 0Reply
Aug 1 2009: The last part of this was interesting, about the 'you cant have it all' and 'make your ideas of success you own' , his wealth does give him the opportunity to present these insights authentically. But the modern idea of a meritocracy is just an illusion or a nice ideal, and in limited application in the real world, as we still have class loyalty, schools which teach people to think of us and them (and take care of 'us' by enslaving 'them'). The last bit about the father/boss/king/god made me think of the modern misapplication of competition theory (an abstract mathematical concept in a now failed economic theory, misused as a social theory) to make the world some sort of gladiatorial arena where we peasants fight for favours from the kings (who inherited either wealth or jobs)... some interesting points, but his class assumptions render a lot of his conclusions irrelevent (or is it mine?)
Richard Davis 0Reply
Aug 1 2009: isn't it kind of crazy for someone who has never had to actually fight their way through the world and be required to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week just to be fed clothed and housed, to talk about meritocracy? And you would have to be an idiot to believe that politicians are somehow meritocritous, unless they bailed out the company his investments are with perhaps? lol interesting talk, based on a completely pollyannaish view of the operations of the read world below his station.
Liane Fredericks 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: It's beautiful to see the heart and mind combine and expressed succinctly and with passion. Even better when darting between them the two makes me laugh. Alain's even given me a way explaining to my dad why i haven't bought him his dream chalet in the Alps yet!

Anyway, a few of you might be interested in checking out 'Learned Optimism / Learned Helplessness' and... Manfreed Max-Neef's 'Fundamental Human Needs' which helps one to understand how the guy with the ferrai is in need of affection (and an identity) and how he's just like you and I. Manfreed also looked at aspects of how inequality breeds unhappiness (i.e. threshold hypothesis).
Shirley Loo 100+ +2Reply
TED ATTENDEE
Jul 31 2009: This is an interesting, humorous and profound talk. The notion of success is often socially constructed. When I was younger, I was a lot more goal-oriented, but when I reached my goal I found that that was not really what I wanted. I am much happier now when I don't let others determine my idea of happiness.
Christopher Gonzales 20+ +3Reply
Jul 31 2009: Hmmm. Isn't TED all about presenting the "creme de la creme" of the meritocracy system? Would TED presenters be judged uninteresting at cocktail parties?
Martin Bartle 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: I love what Alain has to say. It is so well observed, concise, precise and lateral. The only problem for me... never had a job in his life, not in the way that you or I have. Maybe Daddy's millions (possibly billions), freed him from the day to day worries that stop us all thinking quite so eruditely. It doesn't take away from the purity, accuracy or insight - all of which I admire - but it does make you wonder whether we want to take our advice on status anxiety, conspicuous consumption or... financial jealousy from someone who inherited his wealth.

Tara Mokhtari 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: It's documented around the place that he lives solely off his own book sales, despite his affluent background.

Max Hodges 20+ +3Reply
Jul 31 2009: How about looking at the things he says themselves, and judging his ideas based on whether they resonate as true or useful within your own experience, rather than constructing some irrelevant ad hominem criticism? Owning slaves certainly make our founding father's hypocrites for their notions of 'all men being created equal', but their own hypocrisy doesn't make it any less of a noble and hallmark statement of democratic ideals.

Tara Mokhtari 0Reply
Aug 1 2009: I agree. Although I think there's something to be said for the extra authority accrued by first-hand experience. Being born into a particular class/situation should be distinguished from the choices made thereafter - so I find the 'owning slaves' parallel a bit off.

Ryan Hosken 0
Aug 1 2009: Speaking from experience, you can look at modern slavery for this parallel. In the United States, banks own slaves. They are called Graduate Students. Still preferrable to modern slavery elsewhere. And yet, I find first hand experience tends to cloud issues rather than clearify them. Perhaps that's what Meyer's and Briggs meant by INTJ.
Richard Davis 0Reply
Aug 3 2009: max thats the point, they dont resonate as true or useful, just bollocks
M. Tamsin Thoren +6Reply
Jul 31 2009: It seems to me that we have become too self absorbed and insular. Not so long ago in towns across America the grocer was just as well respected as the doctor. There was a tangible interdependence; each person in that town had a purpose within the community. If one fell ill, the whole community suffered for it. In our global economy, the grocer has been replaced by the cashier at bigbox and is easily replaced. There is no tangible interdependence.

Perhaps we need to redefine success. Many we consider "successful" have become that way by exploiting people and/or the environment for their own gain. There are those who have risen to the top by making sure that no one else can leave the bottom. We are the ones who deem these individuals and corporations successful.

What if success has nothing to do with how much material wealth one amasses, or the stock price of a company, but is measured by how much value that individual or organization adds to the world.
Josh Martens 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: Sounds like a dream... Oh wait. It almost certainly is. I honestly think that you're mistaking some fantasy for the reality of our past. Infact I would say that today we are far less self absorbed than we were in the past. We now are very concerned about what is happening to people in Africa, in Iran, in Bolivia, in China, etc etc. We now see ourselves as connected, when in the past racism was open and everywhere. Now racism is looked upon with disgust, it's not yet gone, but it's not acceptable.... We have improved quite a lot... We still have a lot more room within which we can improve though.

Howard Lu +2Reply
Jul 31 2009: Yes, for people who still have sympathy and are socially aware like you, we find ourselves all connected in this world; but for those "successful" other, their see that the markets and money are all connected. As long as they can rip people off and make money, they don't care about skin colors.
One other thing, China in spite of its communism roots, is now the most capitalistic country in the world; therefore, it is no longer suitable to compare China with other third world countries. And believe me, having lived in China for a few years, I know that China has human rights and very strong public opinion, despite what the West, particularly the US, likes to say.
Josh Martens 0
Jul 31 2009: During my time in China (%u6211%u524D%u8D70%u5728%u798F%u5DDE) as an English teacher I saw a lot of poor treatment of the Chinese people I worked with. The boss at the school I was at would find any excuse he could to not pay the Chinese women that worked at the school their proper wages, even worse he would never pay them for the overtime that they put in nearly every day. The big problems in China seem to be corruption at the local government level and employers that screw over their employees. My ex-girlfriend there worked for a large famous German company, and was always treated very well... Those that I knew that worked for Chinese employers though, often seemed to be screwed over, it was horrible to see Chinese people exploiting other Chinese people, rather than being united.
I love China, but it has a lot that can be improved.

Ryan Hosken +1
Aug 1 2009: If you have a moment, read The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. And have a coffee and scone while doing so. Makes the whole experience better, I think.

Ryan Hosken +1Reply
Aug 1 2009: If you have a moment, read The Closing of the American Mind, buyAllan Bloom. And have a coffee and scone while doing so. Makes the whole experience better, I think.
Winston Churchill 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: I agree with the idea that profession doesn't necessarily reflect what kind of a person you are.

I have a problem with your last statement.

How much wealth a person adds to the world is, by definition, their *economic* worth.
Your current wealth, and your rate of accumulation of more wealth is fairly proportional to how valuable your services are.

In other words, a brain surgeon, having the relatively rare skill of brain surgery, has a higher economic worth than a bus driver. The higher wage a brain surgeon receives is proportional to how much he is adding to society. Society has deemed that saving lives is more important than driving a bus, and the surgeon is rewarded accordingly.

Everything, including people, are subject to the laws of supply and demand.

There are of course many exceptions, and many more holes in my statements. I just wanted to point out a problem in your statement just to make a point.

Roy Wallace 30+ +2Reply
ASSOCIATE
Aug 2 2009: I think you missed the most important point: "Many we consider successful have become that way by exploiting people and/or the environment for their own gain."

And wages are not determined solely by "how much [ the employee ] is adding to society" - they're adjusted for supply and demand, for starters.

Maybe you just have a lot more faith in our modern economy than I...
Alexander Mansilya-Kruz 10+ 0
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 5 2009: Saying that wages are "adjusted for supply and demand" is essentially THE SAME as saying that wages are determined by how much the work is adding to society. If people need more of what the employee does (demand > supply), they will pay more. Of course in reality it is not as straightforward as this, but the idea is just the same.
Richard Davis +1Reply
Aug 3 2009: how does a CDO trader who made (on paper) the company he works for 100M in 06 (getting a 1m bonus) then 500M in 07 (getting a 5m bonus) and then lost them 700M in 08, and only got a 100K bonus, fit into your 'remuneration as measure of added value to society' calculus, notwithstanding the people who lost their jobs in the aftermarth of the chicanery?

Roy Wallace 30+ 0Reply
ASSOCIATE
Aug 5 2009: Alexander: Yes, greater demand means greater pay, but you neglected the other side of the inequality. If the supply is small, even a small demand will drive pay upwards. And you are still ignoring the most important point: "Many we consider successful have become that way by exploiting people and/or the environment for their own gain."
M. Tamsin Thoren 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: It seems to me that we have become too self absorbed and insular. Not so long ago (so I hear) in small towns across America, the grocer was just as well respected as the doctor. Without the milkman, there was no milk, we were interdependent and understood each others worth. We knew that if one among us fell ill, we all fell ill, and we looked out for each other. In our new global economy, grocers have become cashiers at Super WalMart, disposable and easily replaced. We have little connection to, and much less tangible interdependence with our own neighbors.

Maybe it's time we redefine success. Many of the more "successful" people in the world have become that way by exploiting other people and the environment, or by ensuring that many others will not have enough to survive. What if success is not how much we attain for ourselves in this lifetime, but how much value we add to the world. A smile, a genuine expression of caring, these things are priceless. That is success.
Szilard Pusztafalvi 0Reply
Jul 30 2009: success
Tom Cantlon 10+ +1Reply
Jul 30 2009: De Botton made me think about success and I realize I never think about success. I've never really approached "a career" or life thinking, "how can I be a success in this" or "what path can I choose that is likely to be successful"? I just stumble along being curious about this and that and find I'm good at some and terrible at others. In most ways my life is not a success by normal standards. I make a lousy living. On the other hand I've managed to work for myself most of my adult life. Of course I've wanted to be successful at being able to work for myself, at seeing my civic and arts efforts work, etc. so it's not that I have no interest in success. I just don't think about it in the way of someone who wants to "be successful". Which explains both why I'm not "successful" and why I mostly enjoy my life. Just a curious thought his talk provoked. He made me think so I'd say his talk was successful.

Pratik Shrestha +7Reply
Jul 30 2009: Ya let's make sure that the idea of success are truly of our own. Quite an inspirational talk. This talk definitely helps everyone to realize that we need to define success according to our own terms and not according to expectations of others.
Alexander Mansilya-Kruz 10+ +6Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 5 2009: As I've said in a separate comment, I have a problem with this particular slogan. You (and de Botton) are saying that "we need to define success according to our own terms and not according to expectations of others". But what does "our terms" really mean? All in all, we only have two sources of goals: genetic and social. (That is, if you are a secular-minded person like de Botton and myself.) If we renounce any notions of success that are "imposed" on us by society, that only leaves us with our innate, animal objectives: survive and leave offspring. There may not be anything wrong with that in itself, but it's hardly the unique individual vision de Botton would like. The idea that any one of us can set her or his own objectives as opposed to taking them from other people is pure self-deception. The honest view would be that we can choose which socially suggested goals to pursue and what priority to assign to each of them; and even that choice is not free from social pressures.

Shimon Grossmann 0Reply
Aug 7 2009: Despite his message of focusing on what success means to us, Alain de Botton's talk is about what success is in the eyes of others. If we focus on what success is to us and in fact achieve it, we might still not be considered successful by others. More likely losers. That's why happiness and success don't correlate well.

Success is by definition an example to be followed, an ideal to be achieved. The pursuit of success often implies abandoning the pursuit of one's own goals. The Talmud says, "Who is a wise man? He who learns of all men." Success is a social phenomenon to be emulated.
Jan Hnila +3
Aug 9 2009: I think the best definition of success is by John Wooden:
"Success is peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable"

I think, if you like this definition, there is no contradiction to "we need to define success according to our own terms and not according to expectations of others" and on the other hand, this should be also the universally accepted "society suggested goal".

This John Wooden's definition of success is mentioned also in his TED talk:
http://www.ted.com/talks/john_wooden_on_the_difference_between_winning_and_success.html
Scott Campbell 10+ +13
Aug 14 2009: I'm not here to weigh in on who's right and who's wrong. I'd just like to say that I have to come to TED sometimes just to remind myself the whole world isn't like the Youtube comments section. Intelligent debate reminds my why we are a species worth saving. You folks are beautiful!

Shimon Grossmann +2Reply
Aug 7 2009: The definition of success as setting yourself your own goals and then setting out to achieve them is therefore oxymoronic. Success is having your achievements recognized by society. That's a better definition of success. Everything else is not success or even failure. Failure is therefore much more personal than success, "Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan."

To recap, I would say that success has a lesson for everyone but the successful person--success validates his/her achievements. Failure has a lesson for the failing person alone--failure is seen by others as a just punishment for abandoning "The Way" or the common currency "-ism" in a person's society.
Marcin M. 10+ +1
Sep 2 2009: So is there any self which may experience success? Society may recognize success, but no one is able to experience the feeling of it himself unless there is society to validate it? On the contrary - society may recognize failure, but it is individual, who feels it? Is it right?
Marcin M. 10+ +1
Sep 2 2009: So is there any self which may experience success? Society may recognize success, but no one is able to experience the feeling of it himself unless there is society to validate it? On the contrary - society may recognize failure, but it is individual, who feels it? Is it right?
Jack P +4
Sep 3 2009: "So is there any self which may experience success? Society may recognize success, but no one is able to experience the feeling of it himself unless there is society to validate it?"

After running 3 miles solo or finishing a 500 page book, I've succeeded in those endeavors. For those things I never really feel a need for external validation. It just feels good to have done those things .

Alton Thompson 0
Mar 25 2010: I disagree about failure being for the person alone. I've learned plenty from the failures of others, just as I have from the successes of others. I've seen that failure can be a team offort, too. just as success often is.

The saying about success having a thousand parents but failure being an orphan has to do with the willingness of people to claim a role in bringing about the result, not with the facts of how it happened.

Pieter Marx +3Reply
Aug 13 2009: I believe that we can have social goals, i.e. goals IN society (and when we achieve them, friendship, status, reputation, etc, we are successful at them), without them being forced upon us BY society. Of course there is social pressure, but ultimately, we are the sole creators of both the definition of what it is to be successful, and the judgement of wether or not we have attained it.
The judgement of others about us on those two subjects (what succes should be and wether we have it), even clearly not without consequence to our day-to-day life, lies outside this process of creation of definition and judgement on your own success. Or failure.
And yes, in actual fact, it would be good if social pressure would move away from narrow-sensed meritocracy, as discussed in de Botton's argument.
Aida Mehonic +3
Aug 20 2009: "The judgement of others about us on those two subjects (what succes should be and wether we have it), even clearly not without consequence to our day-to-day life, lies outside this process of creation of definition and judgement on your own success."

Hmmm. It would be interesting to dig up some data from psychological experiments that quantify "peer pressure". I'm not convinced we can safely conclude to be independent creators of our choices and opinions, I think our brains are too hardwired into responding to stimuli such as recognition from people we care about.
Nyan Storey 20+ +1Reply
Aug 29 2009: I think that I am at least as secular as you if not more so (not that I'm trying to start an "I'm more secular" childish argument, of course), and I think that it works very well if you take a view of success as being "that which would make you and as many people around you as possible happy." In that sense, if I am a doctor because my dad wanted me to be, but all I really wanted was to be a dancer, this talk would be the thing which made me do the thing that really would mak me happy.

I think another really good thing to clarify on this talk is the point that in order to have "success at work" e.g. almost all of the people we recognise as being successful according to conventional standards, you have to sacrifice having "success at family", e.g. raising good children who are given the right amounts of attention and good moral upbringings. I would even go so far as to say that this success, although being less obvious and flamboyant, is much much more important.
Alexander Mansilya-Kruz 10+ 0
TED TRANSLATOR
Dec 5 2009: The question I'm raising is WHY do you want to be a dancer. If you are a secular person and do not believe in stuff like "you were born to be a dancer", then there must be a reason. And by definition that reason must be either genetic or social. You may PERCEIVE the desire to be a dancer as intrinsic, as your very own, but it doesn't make it less of a bio-social phenomenon.
Marcin M. 10+ 0Reply
Sep 6 2009: If you think about yourself as not an actor to take particular task, that's the first step. If you think about yourself as an actor to accomplish particular task, that's the second step, as I'm taking it. If you think about the task to be accoplished but none about you being an actor - the third step. This argument ad absurdum makes you free to do what you really want without bothering what is your position. Clever enough to be an inspiration.

Turil Cronburg 30+ +5Reply
Sep 17 2009: To me "success as we see it" as opposed to as others see it simply means that we COMBINE the social beliefs about what success is WITH our personal biological needs. It's the collaboration of those two influences that make our ideals ours. We need both, not just one or the other.

My vision of success is doing what I love to do in a way that improves others' lives.
todd miesen +1Reply
Jul 30 2009: This talk has a great message I loved it. While he may not have had statistical findings he did have solid truths. People need to understand that they are no better than anyone else when they have money, or luxury, or any other material good. It doesn't make sense to judge someone by how well they have accumulated something over their lifetime. I think an alternative to this is to not judge people, but because that is seemingly impossible maybe it is more imperative to judge someone on their actions. That is the goal to be non-discriminatory but is it really possible? Do we ever know why someone acts in a certain way? Certainly not. So how do we judge someone if it can't be by looks, status, or actions?
THE ANSWER: People shouuldn't judge other people.
My answer to this is I make observations...
Jonathan Stevenson +1Reply
Jul 30 2009: I like the talk. For me the underlying message is not suggesting that we change how we go about trying to be successful. More that we adjust how we view success. Basically try hard to be successful but if you don't get there, don't be too hard on yourself. That we shouldn't see people that haven't been successful as "losers" but also, likewise, that we shouldn't overly praise people who are "winners". For someone who has done really well, it is not helpful, indeed quite destructive for them to feel that they did it all off their own back. It will only mount on the pressure and increase the fear of failing and ultimately reduce their resilience and adaptability....

Kevin Dykes 0Reply
Jul 30 2009: cool talk, very relevant to about 1% of the worlds population, middle aged, middle class, busy professionals, probably parents, living in a developed economy, sounds spiteful, sorry, loved it really......but that says something about me! and about Alain de Botton (ps, do you think that is his birth name, if not I will as of now call myself Sebastian de Ferretet).
Kaveh Hadjari 30+ +3Reply
Jul 30 2009: The developed part of the world is much bigger than 1%. And as more countries becomes developed this problem becomes bigger.

Think of all school shootings that has happened in U.S, Finland, Germany and other places. Those kids felt like they were the loneliest people at the bottom of society. And that's no guess it's a fact that they themselves said before they did those crazy things.

When there are different "classes" or "casts" in society. You are seldom lonely in your position and could at least share sympathy with others.

But when those steps get removed and replaced by individualism and equality then naturally we have created a double pyramid not only to the lonely top, but also to the lonely bottom.

Capitalism (Business) doesn't really care about this issue. Some socialist countries have tried to change this but without much success as can been seen on number of suicides.

This is an important problem. It deserves more attention.

Sabin Muntean 30+ 0Reply
HOSTASSOCIATE
Jul 29 2009: Wow... Mr. Erekul... that comment really blew me away, and I am not joking here, it's very strange to realise how right Mr. de Botton is with his assessment just by looking at that comment. Indeed if we weren't as meritocratic the score system wouldn't be as important, since people wouldn't care how come someone got the points and wouldn't judge by that.

This really shows me how much I still have to learn... I'm thinking just as Mr. de Botton describes us at the beginning, I'll try to improve that.

Thomas Rippel 10+ 0Reply
Aug 2 2009: I just wanted to say that this whole "TED cred" stuff is idiotic, and the fact that you care so much about it is not a good reflection on you.
From reading you posts, always writing some phony flattery (including for people like Daniel Liebeskind), your "TED cred" may reflect the volume of posts you wrote, but certainly not their quality.

Harrison Kim 20+ +4Reply
Jul 29 2009: first new ted talk in w awhile and boy it does not disappoint. For me its the first time Ive heard somebody besides me point out the problems of meritocracy, buts its also the first time Ive thought about the use of tragedies. indeed it is interesting. I will be surely reading his book as soon as I get my hands on one.

Howard Lu +1Reply
Jul 31 2009: You have my support, his books and BBC videos are great.

Harrison Kim 20+ 0Reply
Aug 2 2009: Just went to the strand only to discover that this guy has written books about all kinds oftopics, from architecture, philosophy, fiction, self help, wasnt quite sure what to get and left with "the Architecture of happiness" hoping that was a good choice
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Sorry for the multiple posts. It's a problem on the TED.com end. I've tried numerous times to delete my posts to no avail. I initially was testing another problem with this comment board in that it does not display special characters like the plus sign or quotes properly.
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (TC 29:10)

This ignores evolution and there is misinterpretation of evolution. Evolution is information building on information (i plus i). The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure. (i plus i)^x

Based on my definition most work is trivial & redundant, yielding a meaningless human experience.

What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. Problematic social systems ignore the support of lower hierarchal structures which I call integrated complexity (IC).

Example of (i plus i)^x & IC.
Sons of Kenyan Village Build ...
http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate the suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (TC 29:10)

This ignores evolution and there is misinterpretation of evolution. Evolution is information building on information (i plus i). The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure. (i plus i)^x

Based on my definition most work is trivial & redundant, yielding a meaningless human experience.

What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. Problematic social systems ignore the support of the lower structures which I call the integrated complexity (IC).

Example of (i plus i)^x & IC.
Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic
http://tinyurl.
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate the suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (TC 29:10)

This ignores evolution and there is misinterpretation of evolution. Evolution is information building on information (i i). The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure. (i i)^x

Based on my definition most work is trivial & redundant, yielding a meaningless human experience.

What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. Problematic social systems ignore the support of the lower structures which I call the integrated complexity (IC).

Example of (i i)^x and IC.
Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic'
http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate the suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (TC 29:10)

This ignores evolution and there is misinterpretation of evolution. Evolution is %u201Cinformation building on information%u201D (i i). The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure. (i i)^x

Based on my definition most work is trivial & redundant, yielding a meaningless human experience.

What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. Problematic social systems ignore the support of the lower structures which I call the integrated complexity (IC).

Example of (i i)^x and IC.
Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic'
http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate the suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (TC 29:10)

This ignores evolution and previous comments misinterpret evolution. Evolution is information building on information. The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure. Most are not doing meaningful work.

Natural Selection does not yield a pruned tree as many think. What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. The problematic social systems ignore the support of the lower structures which I call the integrated complexity (IC).

This example is does not ignore IC.
Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic'
http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton is brilliant but this premise is flawed. In his longer talk he says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate the suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (timecode 29:10)

Evolution is information building on information. The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure.

Natural Selection does not yield a pruned tree as many think. What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. The problematic social systems ignore the support of the lower structures which I call the integrated complexity (IC).

This example is does not ignore IC.
Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic'
http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: Botton is brilliant but this premise is flawed. In his longer talk he says we find meaning in making a difference in our community by way of either being able to alleviate the suffering or produce delight in another human being.

http://tinyurl.com/mltcgh (timecode 29:10)

Evolution is information building on information. The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic structure.

Natural Selection does not yield a pruned tree as many think. What we see are hierarchal information processing systems "trees" that are continually growing not pruned. There is plenty of genetic evidence to support that mutations and novelty outpace the pruning of natural selection. The problematic social systems ignore the support of the lower structures which I call the integrated complexity (IC).

Example
Sons of Kenyan Village Build First Clinic'
http://tinyurl.com/nn6s8t

Vytautas Čivilis +1Reply
Jul 29 2009: Great talk.

First thought was that "everyone is different". Keeping that in mind makes it much easier to tolerate individuals. I'm on the side, that judging is not avoidable practically, rather one should understand, that his judgment is never accurate.
Kaveh Hadjari 30+ +7Reply
Jul 29 2009: This speech blew me away.

Particulary it struck a chord with me because I've had the kind of father that only rated me on the basis of his view of success / failures. And when he's not been criticizing me he's never taken any attention to me or the things I like to do. After many hurt feelings I've totally loss interest in my fathers opinion in most matters.

Many times I've disregarded his good advices just to piss him off.
Finally after many years I've started to treat him like he wasn't my father. Never asked him off anything even though I've been in need of his help and even disregarded his attempts when he wanted to help me.
This has made him more gentle. Maybe even too soft as he still doesn't pay attention to my personality and likings.

So an advice to all fathers and mothers, get to know your children and what they like to do. And don't rate your children and help them when they feel like failures. They are already getting rated in our meritocracy.

eliza-jane george 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: (adding 10 if I go to bed sober) by thus keeping one pace ahead of myself I need never catch up with the truth%u201D. Finally, as Allain De Botton points out, %u2018you cant have it all%u2019; are success and virtue mutually exclusive? Are we evolving into a race of greed and material ambition?

eliza-jane george 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: I thought his speech was a little vague re: evidence but he had a nice outlook and fresh take on success. I%u2019m in agreement with a quote from adventurer Christopher McCandless, "I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don't want one" - this is so true of modern, western society. We have two options in life %u2013 to succeed or to fail %u2013 there is no in between. His point about the worship of something transcendent is so prevalent in defining the origins of our current mentality. Elizabeth Gilberts talk on nurturing creativity alludes to this same stress on humanity that comes from personalising our genius, I agree that the increase in depression can be attributed to the increasing pressure of achievement. One of my favourite poems by an Australian poet, roger mcgough sums up the inevitable disillusionment this thinking sets us up for, %u2018it all seems unlikely now and so I seek dreams more mundane, ambitions more easily attained and at the end of each day I count my successes

Claire McManus 30+ 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: I hate to be the cynic, but I was disappointed by this TED speech, and I have watched over 200 of them so I know what I am talking about. What TED speeches usually deliver that I have found nowhere else is original research, rigorous examples and strong results. While I agree with what he said, he made it in very general, broad points so that it was easy to agree with him, and he didn't talk about any studies that he has done or any ways in which he is using his information to change the world. Chris's questions after his speech were very good, and he didn't answer them very well- "We need a strong but gentle father figure culture". That is not a clear answer, I wanted specifics, examples of countries that have used that example, or specific ways in which it would be applied in law. Otherwise, it is just a nice pop culture speech not worthy of TED.

Anca Tiurean 10+ +9Reply
Jul 29 2009: You are right to expect statistical data and studies. But look, his are some ideas worth spreading :) Perhaps their worth is not so much for the science field, but it is worthy in that it stimulates debate and the listeners to look at things from a different perspective. Science is not everyday reasoning, yet we live more with everyday reasoning than we do with science - so i guess we need speeches like this one, to get us out of our mindly routeens. Don

Nguyet Nguyen 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: An idea raised by an individual may be just the theoretical basis on which one builds or discovers one's own, more specific and vivid. Something like "If you wish you had a big house, God bring you an opportunity to buy that house, not the house itself." You may find yourselves in particular aspects of his point and you apply his idea the way you want it to be. Is that not considered an example? Each one of us or people living around us are the most convincing examples that we can have. Don't you think?

Roy Wallace 30+ +2Reply
ASSOCIATE
Jul 29 2009: Er...he's a *philosopher*. :P

Howard Lu 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: i agree...

Ted Bendixson 50+ 0Reply
Aug 1 2009: Claire, I am in agreement. I think he commits a common fallacy in sociology, which is to attribute almost all of who we are to culture alone. Behavior genetics studies would suggest otherwise. Much of who we are is also inherited through genes. Not all, of course, but around 50%. Our obsession with status probably has something to do with both ideas that have spread and a hard-wired human nature. People were probably just as obsessed with social status in the middle ages as they are now. Technology simply changes the way in which the game is played. I hate to say it too, but let's all take a moment and be real with ourselves. Damage to our social status hurts. We literally cry over it. Though we try not to care, we do. I'm not saying all cultural ideals are the outgrowths of a programmed human nature, but I am saying it is a fallacy to assume that they aren't or to not look into alternatives. I don't think our emotional lives are this simple.

Judanne Simpson 10+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: I love the fact that, as well as being very clever, he's also very casual. Have a look at the shirt he's wearing - obviously been put on brand new and straight out of the wrapping judging by the creases. :-)

He has a wonderful series of TV articles, too, which have been shown here in AUS over the last couple of years. You should be able to find them on www.imdb.com by inputting his name.

Roy Wallace 30+ 0Reply
ASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: A nice observation, I thought: two kinds of self-help books: 1) "You can do ANYTHING!"; 2) "Coping with low self esteem".

The logical next question to ask is: How could the concept of tragedy be embraced in modern society, and what economic and social effects would that have?

Are there any economists out there? What do you think?

Julian Blanco 30+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: I think the talk was good and funny and I agree on he%u2019s views about meritocracy and the %u201Canybody can do anything%u201D. But there is something that I didn%u2019t get. I%u2019m talking about the last comment, the one about choosing your own success.
I don%u2019t think you can choose your own success, in the sense that success is a social phenomenon, and by definition, associated to others perceptions. You can%u2019t be successful alone, let%u2019s say in a deserted island. There are social metrics, that you may or may not agree on, but none the less they measure success.
Sadly in modern society I will not be considered %u201Csuccessful%u201D in the full sense of the word by being a good parent, or a good gardener, etc.
It is possible that when I read one of his books, I%u2019ll understand his point, but from the little data I have, this is my conclusion. And in that sense, let%u2019s not change one illusion of success (social) with another illusion of success (personal).

Roy Wallace 30+ +1Reply
ASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: "Sadly in modern society I will not be considered 'successful' in the full sense of the word by being a good parent, or a good gardener, etc."

Ah, the key word is "considered", as in "society does not consider me as successful". The speaker points out that this feels bad when it happens to you - hence the reference to suicide - and also points out that, importantly, this is often not your fault - hence the reference to randomness.

So, the speaker suggests that *you shift your own focus* away from whether society considers you successful, to whether you consider *yourself* successful, according to any definition that you're happy with. I think this is indeed a very constructive suggestion.
Alexander Mansilya-Kruz 10+ +1Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 5 2009: Ah, but we all need to be loved :) Seriously, apart from some really bad sociopathic cases, most people need to be appreciated - maybe not by an abstract Society at large, but at least by a sub-group of it.

Nguyet Nguyen 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: He said "... to make sure the idea of success is truly our own". He just means we need to define what we love to do, our goal for our own life, and do it with our utmost effort and without regret. And once we achieve it, we succeed. Success is an abstract conception and so differs in meaning more or less from person to person because each one has their own family, social and education background. One can live up to the public expectation of success but what about one's own pursuit of success, what about what one really loves (If what one does to be considered successful under public eyes is not what one loves).
A good parent is a successful person if he or she really wants to take good care of and pay attention to his or her children. A person is passionate about gardening and he becomes a good gardener, so who can say he is not a successful gardener? Whatever, success is an ambiguous concept.
Sky de Jersey 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: Alain de Botton is my favourite philosopher, so I'm very glad he's now part of the TED conversation. His comments on success and failure ring true to me - part of our society wide expectations of our lives is that we can/should have and do it all, which when you stop to think abou it is just plain impossible. There is also a lot of conversation on failure which focusses on the negative consequences without acknowledging the need to try new things - ignoring the reality that in exploring new ground failures will happen, but that it is still important for us all to continue exploring!

Nguyet Nguyen +1Reply
Jul 28 2009: Many people find their lives a fiasco because they do not realize what they really want. They get too much distraction from maybe their being jealous of others and trying to compete with them. Everyone differs in their interpretation and pursuit of success. Thus, the most important questions to raise on the way leading one to success is "What is it that I love doing in my own life?". It's the simple question but needs to be brought up in the first place because it takes the lead in the domino games of causes and effects. A person lives his or her own life. No one is able, by any chance or on any purpose, to live life of another's.

John Lisboa 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: yes i do agree on this. but as what was aid on the talk on the measure that people or society gave to this many times distort the person plus the way of living and how to support the whole family in terms of economic situations. this how the thin lines are being drawn and it's sad that it turns out to be the fittest of them all. so envy and jealousy comes in plus survivals especially this times... so the quest continue.. how you studied well? what is your job? how much you earn? then comes again the self idolatry? hope not :-)
Jonathan Stevenson 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: Seems appropriate that people are getting so het up about their social status within the comments system. And seemingly so keen to deride each other's comments. It does seem to demonstrate something of what de Botton is talking about - we are so prickly about our social standing. Does it matter what overall score you have on here?

Allison Hunt 200+ +5Reply
TED ATTENDEE
Jul 28 2009: I feel fortunate to come from a city where people ask "what do you like to do?" not "what do you do?" when they meet someone new. Those two extra words make for a much different, and far more interesting, conversation.

Interesting talk. I bet his books are worth a look.

Alex Karasyov 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: Interesting ideas. 400 years of evolution made us accept the "misfortunate" as "loosers".

It's interesting that he says it's because we have shifted to thinking that we are in control instead of having a god figure that we believe is all powerful. But I think that this is jumping to far. I think it's just evolutionary response, survival if the fittest.
Stefan Taal 10+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: Although sometimes I feel we are trying to relate too many things to evolution, in this case I can surely see how the first few successfull people who considered themselves to be in full control quickly spread the story, while of course the "losers" will never be heard.

Considering this "in control" thinking is at the very basis of loosing feelings of self worth etc. whenever one is seen to be a big loser by snobbish standards, and considering this has led to the still increasing amount of suicides and a range of psychological problems, we might want to start teaching a new story (well, basically Alain's story) at schools and wherever possible. If we are able to change this core of our thoughts I am sure we can save everyone a lot of bad feelings and problems.

John Lisboa 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: wow. yes so can we call that evolution? just asking... hope we'll reach that point where loosers can never be heard in judging our success so can also be teach in many situations like this. then we'll heal lots of woundedness in this present time called evolutions lol
Mattias B 20+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: So you're saying that evolutionary response stopped working for awhile 400 years ago and is just starting to work again? Or how would you explain the transistion from "unfortunate" to "loosers"?

Judanne Simpson 10+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: "Loosers"??? Looser than what?
Larry Railing 10+ +1Reply
Jul 28 2009: Oh ma gawd...lol I laughed so much during this talk, it was great. I really liked this talk and have been looking for this kind of insight with regards to success... Thanks TED, this is really hitting the spot!

Patrick Pete +4Reply
Jul 28 2009: I find it paradoxical that a wonderful talk like this has a comment system that grades our comments. I am curious what impact one's grade on something like TED impacts our view of ourselves. Likewise, does it also influence what we think of a person's comment even before we read it. Does it influence our views of that person. I think Alain's perspective can be applied on multiple levels as it relates to human relational interaction.
Kaveh Hadjari 30+ 0Reply
Jul 30 2009: Particularly strange is that Ted doesn't rate the talks in the same way, it attributes them (funny, fascinating, obnoxious, etc).

As to reflect on your question about the influence of rating. Rating reinforces our belief in our comments and also our place in the TED community.
In the best case people are happy they are contributing, but sometimes it becomes a competetive game.
In the worst case people feel could feel like outsiders because of negative ratings and finally leave the community.
Jonathan Stevenson 0Reply
Jul 30 2009: yes, perhaps it would be better if points were only awarded to the comments themselves and individuals didn't get a score. So you take each comment on its merit regardless of how any particular individual's previous comments may have been rated. In any case, just because someone may have made a highly insightful comment on one topic by no means indicates that they have anything more valid to say than anyone else on another topic.

Howard Lu +1Reply
Jul 31 2009: you guys are so smart! Well, in this meritocracy society, you've just got to earn your (points) way up, or you're a loser, an outcast, or at best a nobody.

Bernard Moon 50+ +5Reply
TED ATTENDEE
Jul 28 2009: Alain's reference to St. Augustine's City of God was excellent because whether you believe in a God or gods, such thinking can put things in perspective for you. Much of what we have achieved is by grace or luck... whether we were born into wealth or poverty, or were completely healthy growing up or had a disability that put odds against you. If you accept this premise, then your personal ego or idol of self becomes smaller and you accept the uncertainty of success, failure and everything in between.

John Lisboa 0Reply
Jul 29 2009: yes indeed. we realized that where in the city of God where everyone is of the same molecules and the likes and hoping to find our true self in this sphere then why most of the city suffers.. can all our politics regain this art and philosophy so not to destroy our blue and green planet the envy of the universe? then truly it would be of God... lol

Sérgio Lopes 200+ +1Reply
HOSTTED ATTENDEETED TRANSLATORASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: A sincere thank you to all who were kind enough to advise the rest of us on Alain's books. Dan and Christine in particular have convinced me to get On Love/Essays in Love to read on my upcoming holidays.

Sabin Muntean 30+ +3Reply
HOSTASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: Personally, I agree with Mrs. Doris Kearns Goodwin (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/doris_kearns_goodwin_on_learning_from_past_presidents.html), in the idea that in trying to have a good life and achieve "success" we should try and balance the spheres of work, play and family and friends. Of course, as Mr. de Botton points out, we must accept that we cannot be perfectly successfull in all, pursuing one to a greater extent will mean cutbacks in the others, but all in all trying the best to balance them should give each and everyone a good place to start.

Oh, and PS to my "admirer(s)" who have randomly downgraded my comments on TED in a matter of hours - in case you are reading this - if you do not agree and keep giving me -1s at least have the decency to post a reply and explain your point of view.

Bernard Moon 50+ +2Reply
TED ATTENDEE
Jul 28 2009: Agree. If you're going to downgrade me too, please provide a reply.

Also why would someone downgrade Fred Bitt's comment below? Having a bitter day?

daniel santamaria +5Reply
Jul 28 2009: if you think this is a bad system, you should look at the youtube comments they are brutal. ted kinda adopted the same kind of comment grading. people are free to do anythin they want. i love TED. i think they should show this is every school instead of other crap. i'm glad to see more people watching

Sabin Muntean 30+ 0
HOSTASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: Mr. Santamaria, firstly, I do not wish to hijack the discussion and turn this into a whole new topic, but since you have replied I wish to add my two cents here.

I fully agree that people should do what they want, but I think you will also agree that -70 points in a matter of hours is impertinent and simply mean.

I also do not think that we should compare TED to YT, TED is far above that as a community, rather the goal should be more successful rating systems. I know of such from forums that I belong to, but unfortunately I have not received any response from TED administrators so far.

Why should it change? Well if TED sets out to improve the world we live in, why not start with something simple - their own website. Plus, that would guarantee that the score truly reflects a member's posts' quality.

To end on a lighter note, I do agree that this should be used as material in schools, I often regreted that none of my teachers knew about TED.

Cheers!

Aras Erekul 10+ +9
Jul 29 2009: Hi, this is my first comment ever, and I am writing this as you ask for it.
Just wanted to point out that it's ironic that you are debating your negative ratings from other users under a talk that says you are your own measure of success. :) Don't pay attention, man. People talk...
Cheers!
David Whittaker 10+ +2
Jul 29 2009: "Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred."
Lev Grossman
Time magazine
Dec 13th 2006

Harrison Kim 20+ +2Reply
Jul 28 2009: I agree, even though I dont find the score very important mine seems to shift from -2 to 30 daily. I am always up for a discourse or debate but it helps nobody to just click -1 on every topic i write. Perhaps limiting the number of likes and dislikes a person can make in a day would be a nice feature. Its very sad, since I joined the TED community in hopes of finding great people to talk to but very often the ones who reply are only about showing off or bigots. but beyond that, I have made it a personal commitment to show every teacher I meet TED and use it to teach on my own.

Howard Lu 0Reply
Jul 31 2009: i just gave you a point, i don't know if they record that I did that and show it to you. I'm also here to exchange thoughts and hopefully gain some wisdom.

Sabin Muntean 30+ 0Reply
HOSTASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: Now that's a great start for the TEDGlobal 2009 talks here on TED.com (not counting Gordon Brown :D) !

Mr. de Botton is definitely right with his assessment of today's society and our view on success and failure.
What I like the most is statement right at the end that we should pursue this aim of perfect justice with all our means, but keep in mind that failure is often caused by hazard, and furthermore that we should avoid extremes and look for a path in the middle.

From my experience in school so far I can very well confirm that this need to be better than others is very strong within my generation. I know of several ex-classmates who dedicated basically all their free time to doing things that could help them out later in their career, as in working jobs to get good references from people, etc.#

To be continued

Bernard Moon 50+ +2Reply
TED ATTENDEE
Jul 28 2009: It's interesting how that snobby question differs from city to city or region to region. In NYC, you typically get asked, what school did you attend? Which Ivy? In Hong Kong, it's where you live? Mid-levels? Both these questions allow people to measure you up. It's funny Alain brings up job snobbery since I ask that question a few questions into meeting someone new to avoid measuring someone up but to discover what's interesting about that person.

Roy Wallace 30+ 0Reply
ASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: But if you make any conclusion based on the answers to such questions, you are still judging them to a certain (possibly small) extent.

Harrison Kim 20+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: Completely agree with you. Back in highschool in new york it was which school you go to. now in college, which college of the university you go to. it just never ends. We need to start accepting people as people and use these questions as only as a means to start, not an end
Alexander Mansilya-Kruz 10+ 0Reply
TED TRANSLATOR
Aug 5 2009: But then again, you cannot possibly talk to everyone you meet. You have to have some way of selecting those individuals who are of interest to you, with whom you want to become closer. How do you make that choice? There must be some heuristic at work there.

dermot walshe 20+ 0Reply
Aug 5 2009: yes....It's interesting to note that Malcom Gladwell also had similar observations on racial prejudices or snobbery in his own family . While his mother could feel a bit superior to slightly more black people in Trinidad.......being perhaps a 4 on the grayscale of 1-10 she suddenly found herself wrestling with the same issue from the other side in a predominantly white society and realized her own bais more clearly.
Never too late to learn.

Todd Cutrie +1Reply
Jul 28 2009: Thanks Alain for straying off the beaten path and providing a side profile of success and failure. As a father I thought it was at times funny without losing its honesty at the same time. Also, much appreciation to Dan for the tip on Alain%u2019s books, I am looking forward to reading them. Thanks TED as usual, another great find.

Fred Bitt 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: Amazing talk indeed.

Annastasia Webster 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: I agreed with just about everything he said. Very interesting talk! I also plan to pick up his books now.
Christine Ulverton +1Reply
Jul 28 2009: Sergio,
Glad you've discovered Alain de Botton. He is a brilliant talker certainly - but an even better writer. He's written seven books of non-fiction. I really liked his new one, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work - and also his The Consolations of Philosophy. If you're a romantic, you'll adore On Love and if you are keen on art and how things look,he's got a fine eye, evident in The Art of Travel and The Architecture of Happiness. This is one of the most exciting writers currently working on the planet.

Dan Kern 10+ +6Reply
Jul 28 2009: If you enjoyed his talk, you must read his books. Alain is one of our rare voices today speaking a brand of truth most don't want to hear. He speaks light into dark places and has given words to some of societies most baffling, current maladies.
Tied as my favourite with Sir Ken Robinson's talk on schools killing creativity.
Thank you Alain.

Sérgio Lopes 200+ 0Reply
HOSTTED ATTENDEETED TRANSLATORASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: I actually went straight to Amazon to search for his books after seeing his Talk, but there are so many! Which one would you advise, if I may ask?

Dan Kern 10+ 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: wow, what an honour, S

alex pineda 0
Jul 28 2009: this talk is directly related to his book "status anxiety". i especially the last chapter in that book, inspired by "the death of ivan illyich".

Dan Kern 10+ +6Reply
Jul 28 2009: wow, what an honour, Sergio, allow me then: The Architecture of Happiness rings for me. I've read Essays in Love three times (the chapter on Beauty is worth the price alone) currently working through Status Anxiety and The Art of Travel (another fav) now resides permanently near my bed. Lots of peices on-line, too. But don't rush; he can pack a day's worth of contemplation into a single sentence. Can take a while to unpack, but that's the pleasure of reading his work. Enjoy!
Nahid Zokaei 0
Jul 28 2009: Hello Dan, I was just about to ask the same questions as Sergio when i saw your reply! Thanks a lot for the help!!!! I am ordering the books right now :).

Craig Knott +2
Jul 28 2009: Indeed: prioritise Status Anxiety and The Consolations of Philosophy, whilst completed disregarding the rather terrible Architecture of Happiness.

Kate Gubarev 10+ +2
ASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: I've read the Status Anxiety, and the Art of Travel - I would also definitely recommend both. The way he organizes his thoughts, and combines philosophy with pragmatism, is truly engaging.
Alex Bell 20+ 0
Jan 4 2011: I don't think he has written a bad book. They are all worthwhile. I think I now own all of them, but there are two I haven't yet read.
Michael Smith 0Reply
Jul 28 2009: "The Consolations of Philosophy" is a great book and also a HDTV documentary. It's an excellent, short and easy introduction into the world of philosophy. Imagine that %u2014 philosophy presented so engagingly that's it's produced as a Hi-Def TV series.
Michael Smith +3Reply
Jul 28 2009: "The Consolations of Philosophy" is an excellent book and a HDTV documentary series. It's an enlightening, short and easy introduction into what is usually a densely presented subject. Imagine - Philosophy presented so engagingly that it's produced as a Hi Def TV series.
Dmitri Barkovsky +1Reply
Jul 28 2009: I enjoyed all of his books, but my favorite is "The Consolations of Philosophy". His latest book "Pleasures and Sorrows of Work" is just out in the US. Here is his talk in LA, i think it's a good primer to it http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/archives_2009.php?event_id=284
Norman Cohen +1Reply
Sep 25 2009: I'm currently reading "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work," which does not contain as much philosophy, but is very insightful and in no way disrespectful of even the most mundane of jobs (chocolate cookie marketers even earn Alain's respect, in a certain way). But for a good introduction, do read "How Proust Can Change Your Life." It is wonderful.
Eunhou Song 0Reply
Jan 23 2011: The two are my favorite videos on TED as well!

Sérgio Lopes 200+ +2Reply
HOSTTED ATTENDEETED TRANSLATORASSOCIATE
Jul 28 2009: I was fortunate enough to catch this live on the webcast and found it fascinating, as it gave me so much food for thought. I found the part where he speaks about meritocracy particularly interesting. I'm all for a meritocratic society, but I never really considered its downside, how crushing it can be for someone who's hit the bottom to have no one else to blame for it.


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