Some interesting points to ponder from Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety ISBN 0-141-01486-5.

“We hold divergent views about our characters and rely on others' attitude to accept one set of views over the other.” Could this partially explain why relationships are so important to us? We rely on our relationships to reinforce the desired views of our character.

“A snob is someone who equates social rank with human worth. Their primary interest is power.”

“Public opinion is the worst of all opinions.” Chamfort.
“the views of the majority of the population on the majority of subjects is permeated with extraordinary confusion and error. … common sense is common nonsense.”

Expectations affect our self esteem. Democratic classlessness increases our expectations, and reduces our ability to simply accept the situations we find ourselves in.

Melancholy amidst abundance – “when everything is more or less level, the slightest variation is noticed” When there is equal opportunity, there is this expectation that we should be able to achieve anything we set our minds to, that we can have endless stuff.

“We are humiliated [by our failures] only if we first invest our pride and sense of worth in a given achievement, and then do not reach it.” In other words, we feel bad about our failures only when we have the expectation that our self worth is intricately enmeshed with them.

Self esteem  = 

Emphases are mine. What do the Buddhists say about expectations as being the root of suffering?

“Wealth does not involve having many things. It involves having what we long for. Wealth is … relative to desire. Every time we seek something we cannot afford, we grow poorer, whatever our resources. … The net effect of [advanced] societies may be to impoverish us because, by fostering unlimited expectations, they keep open a permanent gap between what we want and what we can afford, who we are and who we might be.”

We (the societies we are part of) tell stories about success and failure, wealth and poverty. Amongst other things, these stories enable us to justify our decisions and actions, including the actions of businesses:

Three useful old stories about failure:Three anxiety-inducing stories about success:
The poor are not responsible for their condition and are the most useful in society.The rich are the useful ones, not the poor.
Low status has no moral connotations.One’s status does have moral connotations.
The rich are sinful and corrupt and owe their wealth to their robbery of the poor.The poor are sinful and corrupt and owe their poverty to their stupidity.

Aristotle said: if human behaviour is left unexamined and untempered by reason, will tend towards extremes.
-Philosophical Ideal+
Status lethargyAmbitionStatus hysteria

(Last row added by the author.)
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