Status Anxiety Quotes

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Status Anxiety Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton
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Status Anxiety Quotes (showing 1-30 of 96)
“That said, deciding to avoid other people does not necessarily equate with having no desire whatsoever for company; it may simply reflect a dissatisfaction with what—or who—is available. Cynics are, in the end, only idealists with awkwardly high standards. In Chamfort's words, 'It is sometimes said of a man who lives alone that he does not like society. This is like saying of a man that he does not like going for walks because he is not fond of walking at night in the forêt de Bondy.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Not being understood may be taken as a sign that there is much in one to understand.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first - the story of our quest for sexual love - is well known and well charted, its vagaries form the staple of music and literature, it is socially accepted and celebrated. The second - the story of our quest for love from the world - is a more secret and shameful tale. If mentioned, it tends to be in caustic, mocking terms, as something of interest chiefly to envious or deficient souls, or else the drive for status is interpreted in an economic sense alone. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first, it is no less complicated, important or universal, and its setbacks are no less painful. There is heartbreak here too.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Wealth is not an absolute. It is relative to desire. Every time we yearn for something we cannot afford, we grow poorer, whatever our resources. And every time we feel satisfied with what we have, we can be counted as rich, however little we may actually possess.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“To be shown love is to feel ourselves the object of concern: our presence is noted, our name is registered, our views are listened to, our failings are treated with indulgence and our needs are ministered to. And under such care, we flourish.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
tags: love
“Anxiety is the handmaiden of contemporary ambition.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“We each appear to hold within ourselves a range of divergent views as to our native qualities.. And amid such uncertainty, we typically turn to the wider world to settle the question of our significance.. we seem beholden to affections of others to endure ourselves.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“The attentions of others matter to us because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value, as a result of which affliction we tend to allow others' appraisals to play a determining role in how we see ourselves. Our sense of identity is held captive by the judgements of those we live among.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Rather than teasing the buyers, we may blame the society in which they lived for setting up a situation where the purchase of ornate cabinets felt psychologically necessary and rewarding, where respect was dependent on baroque displays. Rather than a tale of greed, the history of luxury could more accurately be read as a record of emotional trauma. It is the legacy of those who have felt pressured by the disdain of others to add an extraordinary amount to their bare selves in order to signal that they too may lay a claim to love.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Life seems to be a process of replacing one anxiety with another and substituting one desire for another--which is not to say that we should never strive to overcome any of our anxieties or fulfil any of our desires, but rather to suggest that we should perhaps build into our strivings an awareness of the way our goals promise us a respite and a resolution that they cannot, by definition, deliver.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where "ordinary" life fails to answer a median need for dignity and comfort.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“People who hold important positions in society are commonly labelled "somebodies," and their inverse "nobodies"-both of which are, of course, nonsensical descriptors, for we are all, by necessity, individuals with distinct identities and comparable claims on existence. Such words are nevertheless an apt vehicle for conveying the disparate treatment accorded to different groups. Those without status are all but invisible: they are treated brusquely by others, their complexities trampled upon and their singularities ignored.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Only as we mature does affection begin to depend on achievement.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“It is this idea 'decency' should be attached to wealth -and 'indecency'' to poverty - that forms the core of one strand of skeptical complaint against the modern status-ideal. Why should failure to make money be taken as a sign of an unconditionally flawed human being rather than of a fiasco in one particular area if the far larger, more multifaceted, project of leading a good life?
Why should both wealth and poverty be read as the predominant guides to an individual's morals ?”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“We are tempted to believe that certain achievements and possessions will give us enduring satisfaction. We are invited to imagine ourselves scaling the steep cliff face of happiness in order to reach a wide, high plateau on which we will live out the rest of our lives; we are not reminded that soon after gaining the summit, we will be called down again into fresh lowlands of anxiety and desire.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Judged against eternity, how little of what agitates us makes any difference.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Philosophy, art, politics, religion and bohemia have never sought to do away entirely with the status hierarchy; they have attemptee, rather, to institute new kinds of hierarchies based on sets of values unrecognised by, and critical of, those of the majority.. They have provided us with persuasive and consoling reminders that there is more than one way of succeeding in life.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“We are not always humiliated by failing at things; we are humiliated only if we first invest our pride and sense of worth in a given achievement, and then do not reach it.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Our minds are susceptible to the influence of external voices telling us what we require to be satisfied, voices that may drown out the faint sounds emitted by our souls and distract us from the careful, arduous task of accurately naming our priorities.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“It is according to how we are able to answer the question of what we do (normally the first enquiry we will have to field in any new acquaintance) that the quality of our reception is likely to be decided.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“A world where a majority had imbibed the lessons implicit within tragic art would be one in which the consequences of our failures would necessarily cease to weigh upon us so heavily.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“[L]ife is a phenomenon in need of criticism, for we are, as fallen creatures, in permanent danger of worshipping false gods, of failing to understand ourselves and misinterpreting the behaviour of others, of growing unproductively anxious or desirous, and of losing ourselves to vanity and error. Surreptitiously and beguilingly, then, with humour or gravity, works of art--novels, poems, plays, paintings or films--can function as vehicles to explain our condition to us. They may act as guides to a truer, more judicious, more intelligent understanding of the world.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“There are countries in which the communal provision of housing, transport, education and health care is so inferior that inhabitants will naturally seek to escape involvement with the masses by barricading themselves behind solid walls. The desire for high status is never stronger than in situations where 'ordinary' life fails to answer a median need for dignity or comfort.

Then there are communities—far fewer in number and typically imbued with a strong (often Protestant) Christian heritage—whose public realms exude respect in their principles and architecture, and whose citizens are therefore under less compulsion to retreat into a private domain. Indeed, we may find that some of our ambitions for personal glory fade when the public spaces and facilities to which we enjoy access are themselves glorious to behold; in such a context, ordinary citizenship may come to seem an adequate goal. In Switzerland's largest city, for instance, the need to own a car in order to avoid sharing a bus or train with strangers loses some of the urgency it has in Los Angeles or London, thanks to Zurich's superlative train network, which is clean, safe, warm and edifying in its punctuality and technical prowess. There is little reason to travel in an automotive cocoon when, for a fare of only a few francs, an efficient, stately tramway will provide transport from point A to point B at a level of comfort an emperor might have envied.

One insight to be drawn from Christianity and applied to communal ethics is that, insofar as we can recover a sense of the preciousness of every human being and, even more important, legislate for spaces and manner that embody such a reverence in their makeup, then the notion of the ordinary will shed its darker associations, and, correspondingly, the desires to triumph and to be insulated will weaken, to the psychological benefit of all.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“An urgent wish is no guarantor of a sound solution.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Confident that cast-iron walls separate our nature and situation from theirs, comfortable in the well-broken-in saddle of our high horse, we have exchanged our capacity to be tolerant for detachment and derision.

It is the tragedian's task, then, to force us to confront an almost unbearable truth: every folly or myopia of which any human being in history has been guilty may be traced back to some aspect of our collective nature. Because we each bear within ourselves the whole of the human condition, in its worst and best aspects, any one of us might be capable of doing anything at all, or nothing, under the right—or rather the most horribly wrong—conditions.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“The travails of being an employee include not only uncertainty about the duration of one's employment, but also the humiliation of many working practices and dynamics. With most businesses shaped like pyramids, in which a wide base of employees gives way to a narrow tip of managers, the question of who will be rewarded - and who left behind - typically develops into one of the most oppressive of the workplace, and one which, like all anxieties, feeds off uncertainty. Because achievement in most fields is difficult to monitor reliably, the path to promotion or its oppositie can acquire an apparently haphazard connection to results. The succesful alpinist of organizational pyramids may not be the best at their jobs, but those who have best mastered a range of dark political arts in which civilized life does not usually offer instruction.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“According to one influential wing of modern secular society there are few more disreputable fates than to end up being 'like everyone else' for 'everyone else' is a category that comprises the mediocre and the conformist, the boring and the suburban. The goal of all right-thinking people should be to mark themselves off from the crowd and 'stand out' in whatever way their talents allow.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Art was the very antithesis of crass moralism.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Blessed with riches and possibilities far beyond anything imagined by ancestors who tilled the unpredictable soil of medieval Europe, modern populations have nonetheless shown a remarkable capacity to feel that neither who they are nor what they have is quite enough.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Our “ego” or self-conception could be pictured as a leaking balloon, forever requiring the helium of external love to remain inflated, and ever vulnerable to the smallest pinpricks of neglect.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety

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