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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 21-Feb-16


Sunday 21-February-15

Status, aspiration and fantasy

One of the defining aspects of being human is living in a hierarchical society. In common with other group-living animals, the social structure is essential for sustaining relative peace and harmony, even if the price is occasional bloodshed.

A result of this is that the pecking order is important to us, as is our place on this social ladder. We build much of our self-worth based on who is inferior to us and who is superior. We also indulge in daily battles with those around us, both to advance our position a notch and to defend it from usurpers who try to climb over us in their own attempted ascent.

Many of our aspirations in life are based around this desire for status. We seek both formal and social status in the form of promotion and recognition. If or employer tells us we are superior and other people look up to us, then maybe we really are worth something.

The problem with all this is that the bottom of the pyramid is much bigger than the top, and that the top is very narrow indeed. The opportunity for advancement is, for many, an illusion. Even as they are striving their best and friends are urging them on, the probable return on this investment is negligible.

So why do we do it? Why do we kid ourselves that we could be president, CEO or celebrity? Mostly, it's about fantasy. While we are trying, we can imagine succeeding. If we give up, we lose hope.

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