Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton is a book that explores the concept of status anxiety and how it affects our lives. The author defines status anxiety as a worry that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our own society and that we may as a result be stripped of dignity and respect. He identifies five main causes of status anxiety: lovelessness, snobbery, expectation, meritocracy, and dependence.
The author argues that our desire to be seen as successful can lead to mental health issues and suggests ways to combat this disease of trying to climb the never-ending social ladder.
He encourages readers to ask themselves what is truly valuable to them and only them, to question the traditions of society, and to use logic to temper the irrational ways that emotion tries to get us to follow the crowd into the depths of status anxiety.
The book provides an eye-opening look at the issue of status anxiety and how it can affect our lives. It encourages readers to challenge the parts of the status quo that are a waste of time and energy and provides useful takeaways to help readers let go of their desire to be perfect.
- Ask yourself what is truly valuable to you and only you
- Question the traditions of society
- Use logic to temper the irrational ways that emotion tries to get you to follow the crowd into the depths of status anxiety
What I Liked
Loved it – one of the author’s better books.
What I Did Not Like
Like all of De Botton’s book, it can be a bit self-serious, contemplative, and melancholic. Also, I think the plea to logic might not be effective long-term. Better advice would be to build habits (i.e., media consumption, hobbies, friend groups, etc) that move you away from bad status symbols and towards productive, positive ones.