People increasingly follow junk values

The more extrinsically motivated we are the more likely we are to be depressed and anxious, and especially western society has been moving towards extrinsically motivating values.

If you're valuing only status, wealth and fame, yeah you're probably going to be depressed and anxious whether or not you get "enough" of it. That's because you can't get enough of these things, they only have relative value. You can only have high status relative to the people around you. You're almost certainly in the richest 5% of the world, and popularity in similarly zero-sum.

Most extrinsically motivating factors are relative, which makes them quite easily turn into never ending striving for more of the same thing. Comparison to others also makes us less happy.

While most people aren't valuing these things consciously, we all value them unconsciously by the influences of our culture, advertising, social media etc.

We evolved in an environment where everything a human needs to live a happy and meaningful life was already there. Relationships, food, play, struggle, survival. But it's a lot easier to make more money if I convince you that you need all this other stuff in your life to be happy. Insecurity is a great path to convincing you you need something, hence advertising is often targeted at our insecurities about status, sexual attractiveness and our likability.

Recognizing these junk values for what they are, we can recognize the choice we have to stop playing these status, wealth, and popularity games. They inherently have no end and cannot be won. They mostly create temporary pleasure and suffering and striving over nothing.

What to value instead? What you genuinely enjoy for it's own sake and What matters morally maybe.

Related: Nothing (external) changes anything (internal), You can live each moment for itself even in the context of greater progress


TLDR:

The more extrinsically motivated we are the more likely we are to be depressed and anxious, and especially western society has been moving towards extrinsically motivating values.

These things can't bring us lasting happiness. Especially if you consciously pursue more wealth, fame or status, there is no level you will get to where you will go, "ah, I've made it", even though it's easy to imagine that you someday will.

These junk extrinsic values only exist relative to others (except wealth as a path to other means rather than for its own sake). We will always have richer, more beautiful people to compare ourselves to, and comparison itself regardless of whether you think you are better than the person you're comparing yourself to, tends to make us less happy.


References:

Fame is nothing more than "the clacking of tongues" - Marcus Aurelius

Sam Harris Podcast Episode 142

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant To me, the real winners are the ones who step out of the game entirely, who don’t even play the game, who rise above it. Those are the people who have such internal mental and self-control and self-awareness, they need nothing from anybody else.

The enemy of peace of mind is expectations drilled into you by society and other people.

The Century of the Self: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s&ab_channel=DavidLessig