I agree with you, you have come way too far to go back to the old way now, I know that's not an option for you at this point. I like the other analogy better, you're the only one alive amidst a load of brain dead people ha ha.
In my opinion happiness and self-esteem are linked. I don't think it's possible to be truly happy in your life unless you value yourself and have good self-esteem. I think it comes down to loving yourself, if you don't love yourself how can anybody else love you at the level you deserve? I think the answer to that is they can't, sooner or later if you don't love yourself they will get tired of you and treat you badly or leave because you don't value yourself, I've seen it happen over and over again.
I would agree that you have to be very careful in how you motivate people to gain self-esteem, they have to be able to achieve in baby steps in order to gain confidence in themselves.
I think the status issue, being perceived in other peoples minds is very true for someone with low self-esteem. They always measure themselves by how others see them which can be devastating for someone with very low self-esteem if they aren't in their element. I see this as a perpetuating problem, someone with low self-esteem will seek out like minded people because they want to feel safe. On the other hand it can also be said that people perceive what we emit. It all depends what angle you're looking at it from.
I don't think the statement from The Pleasure Trap applies to people with high self-esteem as a general rule. Those with confidence in themselves don't generally worry about how people perceive them because they are secure within themselves.
I truly think we teach people how to treat us and if we don't value ourselves and think we have nothing to contribute to society then people will treat us accordingly.
Another thing I've encountered, some people with low self-esteem start to see themselves as victims, always blaming others or society or hard times, or whatever but it's never their fault. The people in this category have to really want to change their situation because they have to be able to hear the truth and that's hard for them. If they don't really want to change you can't help them.
The last half of the last paragraph from TPT in your post Steve, I don't agree with because I was one of those kids whose parents told me I could be anything and do anything I wanted in this life, that I could achieve whatever I wanted to achieve and it's how I've lived my life. I was told I could accomplish anything I set my mind to do but that it would take hard work and diligence. But I was also raised being told that nobody was better than me and that I was no better than anybody else which really cemented the self-esteem issue for me. I'm not saying the findings in the study were wrong, but for me it was just the opposite, the encouragements were what made me believe I could achieve what I wanted and gave me the confidence and self-esteem I needed to realize my dreams.
I find I'm being drawn to children who are being raised by parents who have low self-esteem. It hurts me to know these kids are mirroring they're parents, what they learn growing up is usually how they live their lives and if they aren't taught to value themselves as children it's much harder to realize they're worth something as adults. They can't be what they don't know anything about. It's much easier to teach a child than it is an adult. I think there should be many more mentoring programs than there are where I live, children are the future and I think we need to teach them how to be both mentally and physically healthy as they grow into adults.
I guess everyone has a different opinion on how to go about something but each person is different so we need to be able to read each person individually with regard to instilling self-esteem. What works for one might not work for another, I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way, just different ways.
I understand about you not listening to other people Steve regarding your weight and diet. There will always be those who for whatever reason don't want you to succeed, glad to hear you know your body well enough to say they're wrong and stick to your guns.