You know, we’re often told that we live in very materialistic times, that we’re all greedy people. I don’t think we are particularly materialistic. I think we live in a society which has simply pegged certain emotional rewards to the acquisition of material goods

 

Who defines success?

We live in a meritocratic society. On the one hand, that’s a great thing — it means equality and reward based on your effort. It’s clearly more desirable than a society where you have no opportunity to advance yourself beyond the situation you’re born into.

The flip-side, however, of a meritocratic society is that failure suddenly becomes far more painful. If success and failure are based entirely on merit (or lack of it), your failures can’t be blamed on anyone but yourself.

But what is failure? It’s a lack of success. So failure depends entirely on your definition of success. In his TED talk, Alain de Botton probes the questions of what success is, whether we define it ourselves and how we can be a little kinder to ourselves.