At one point in the movie What About Bob?, Bill Murray’s character walks down a crowded Manhattan street chanting to himself the words, “I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful.” At that moment, he represented a widespread generational idea that building up one’s self-esteem was a key to success. NY Mag’s Jesse Singal takes a look back at how the self-esteem craze took over America: It “changed how countless organizations were run, how an entire generation — millenials — was educated, and how that generation went on to perceive itself (quite favorably). As it turned out, the central claim underlying the trend, that there’s a causal relationship between self-esteem and various positive outcomes, was almost certainly inaccurate. But that didn’t matter: For millions of people, this was just too good and satisfying a story to check, and that’s part of the reason the national focus on self-esteem never fully abated. Many people still believe that fostering a sense of self-esteem is just about the most important thing one can do, mental health–wise.” (I’ve never worshipped at the altar of high self-esteem. Maybe it’s my Jewish heritage where humorous self-deprecation is worn as a badge of honor. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve spent too much time reading web comments.)