“But when you stop and really think about it, conventional life advice—all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time—is actually fixating on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be, and then emphasizes them for you. You learn about the best ways to make money because you feel you don’t have enough money already. You stand in front of the mirror and repeat affirmations saying that you’re beautiful because you feel as though you’re not beautiful already. You follow dating and relationship advice because you feel that you’re unlovable already. You try goofy visualization exercises about being more successful because you feel as though you aren’t successful enough already.”
So the message is that we care too much about things we perhaps shouldn’t care as much about. There is some logic to this. We, as a society, never seem to be happy enough. There always seem to be more, success, wealth, stuff, happiness. What I get from it is to let a lot of stuff go.
“But it’s a generation later and the data is in: we’re not all exceptional. It turns out that merely feeling good about yourself doesn’t really mean anything unless you have a good reason to feel good about yourself. It turns out that adversity and failure are actually useful and even necessary for developing strong-minded and successful adults. It turns out that teaching people to believe they’re exceptional and to feel good about themselves no matter what doesn’t lead to a population full of Bill Gateses and Martin Luther Kings. It leads to a population full of Jimmys. Jimmy, the delusional start-up founder. Jimmy, who smoked pot every day and had no real marketable skills other than talking himself up and believing it. Jimmy, the type of guy who yelled at his business partner for being “immature,” and then maxed out the company credit card at Le Bernardin trying to impress some Russian model. Jimmy, who was quickly running out of aunts and uncles who could loan him more money.”