H.G. Wells once received a molten letter from William James excoriating “our national disease” and our “moral flabbiness,” born of the “exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess success [and] the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success.”

Alain de Botton’s message here (and in his new book on work, and his earlier books and documentary films on architecture, philosophy, status, and happiness) is simple but profound: be clear about what success means to you. Don’t settle uncritically for anyone else’s “squalid” interpretation.

If you do, don’t be surprised when your success does not make you happy.

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