An Interview with Alain de Botton


Haegwan Kim

What is your definition the term 'success'?


Alain de Botton

Success is realising what you have the potential and interest to do - and managing to do it in a way that gives you enough money to live and enough respect to make you comfortable in society.


HK

What is the most important thing for you to achieve success?


AB

The most important thing behind success is courage: courage to realise that doing something good may be very hard, courage not to give up and start to cry when things go wrong (as they will very very often).


HK

To have courage, do you think it is necessary to have others to cheer you up?


AB

Yes, courage requires a circle of loved ones and friends. Most of all, it requires good parents in the early years.


HK

Is your success for only yourself or for the whole society?


AB

My ambition is to influence people, enlighten people and make life better for people, so intrinsically, my success is very connected to the well-being of others.


HK

I think when people get enough money to live, they want more money, can I ask your opinion about how to end up this vicious (or say, endless) cycle of human desire?


AB

We need money for two reasons: to live and also to attract the esteem of others by doing a productive job. So we aren't greedy by wanting more money, we aren't materialistic, what we require is the respect of other people, which is only available by earning money. So we should be very careful not to say people are greedy, we are hungry for respect and love.


HK

Final question is, where have you obtained your creativities and how to harness them to the level of art?


AB

My creativity comes from pain, from suffering - and from a belief that suffering can be made into art, if one tries to understand it rationally.


Alain de Botton is a writer the founder of The School of Life 

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