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Never Enough summary

Jennifer Breheny Wallace

When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic-and What We Can Do About It

4.3 (129 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Never Enough by Jennifer Breheny Wallace is an enlightening exploration of our human tendencies towards excessive consumption and the pursuit of more. It examines the psychological origins of this drive and offers valuable insights into finding contentment in our lives.

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    Never Enough
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    Childhood has been “professionalized” – and it’s making young people sick

    What’s life like for teenagers in today’s performance-orientated schools? Just ask Molly, a high school junior from Washington State who agreed to be interviewed by the author. 

    Most of her peers, Molly said, study either late into the night or get up very early to keep up with their academic commitments. Molly, not a fan of late nights, said she often sleeps around midnight, only to wake up five hours later for studies or last-minute test preparations – even when she has to participate in athletic activities during the day. On her most exhausted days, she added, she simply runs laps in practice with her eyes closed.

    Molly’s statement is a shocking metaphor for an entire generation that’s tirelessly running, eyes shut, in never-ending circles. Our era has birthed what might be called the professionalized childhood. Every second of a child’s life today appears to be meticulously structured to amplify their potential, with an overarching emphasis on competition and high-stakes outcomes. More often than not, youngsters find themselves running a marathon designed by adults, with little to no time for reprieve or even a moment to ponder whether they wish to be in this race at all.

    The relentless pursuit of excellence and success, however, doesn’t come without repercussions. While adverse childhood experiences like poverty and exposure to violence have been historically linked to potential risks to a child’s well-being, recent research also identifies students from high-achieving schools as part of the “at-risk” youth demographic. 

    These institutions, known for their competitive nature and superior test scores, inadvertently cultivate an environment where students grapple with significant adjustment issues. This phenomenon is closely tied to the incessant pressures students face, both academically and in extracurricular activities. According to some estimates, a full third of American students are under the crushing weight of these achievement pressures.

    This is also leading to a crisis in mental health and wellbeing. Cases of stress, anxiety, and depression are skyrocketing among young people, more and more of whom report prolonged feelings of sadness and despair. Multiple factors mold the mental health of these individuals, including societal and media influences that often diminish self-worth. The crux of the issue, however, is clear: the toxic stress pervasive in young people’s lives is causing irrevocable harm, and it falls upon the shoulders of their parents to intervene and mitigate this crisis.

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    What is Never Enough about?

    Never Enough (2023) delves into the harmful nature of achievement culture, exploring its origins and implications for society. Through extensive interviews and a comprehensive survey, discover how societal structures have instilled in children the corrosive belief that their worth is solely tied to their achievements – and what we can do about it. 

    Never Enough Review

    Never Enough (2021) by Jennifer Breheny Wallace is a thought-provoking exploration of the concept of never feeling satisfied and always wanting more. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • The book delves into the psychology of human desire and our constant pursuit of more, offering insights into why we always strive for more, even when we have enough.
    • Backed by scientific research, personal stories, and interviews, the book offers a fascinating look at the impact of our insatiable desires on our well-being and relationships.
    • With its accessible language and relatable examples, the book keeps readers engaged, ensuring that the exploration of never feeling satisfied is far from boring.

    Who should read Never Enough?

    • Parents navigating modern achievement pressures
    • Educators seeking understanding on student stress
    • Readers exploring societal influence on success

    About the Author

    Jennifer Brehency Wallace is a journalist and social commentator best known for her coverage of parenting and lifestyle trends. A frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, Jennifer also regularly appears on TV.

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    Never Enough FAQs 

    What is the main message of Never Enough?

    The main message of Never Enough is that our pursuit of happiness through material wealth is ultimately unsatisfying.

    How long does it take to read Never Enough?

    The reading time for Never Enough varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Never Enough a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Never Enough is a thought-provoking book worth reading. It sheds light on our consumerist culture and offers insights on finding fulfillment beyond material possessions.

    Who is the author of Never Enough?

    Jennifer Breheny Wallace is the author of Never Enough.

    What to read after Never Enough?

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