Do you ever feel like you’re spinning your existential wheels in life? That outwardly, you seem to be doing ok, but inwardly, you feel kind of empty?
My guest today would say that you’ve got to move on from trekking up life’s first mountain, to begin a journey up its second. His name is David Brooks and he’s the author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life. In that book, David makes the case that there are two mountains that we climb in life: The first is about the self — getting a college degree, starting a career, buying a home, and making your mark on the world. But at some point, that mountain starts to feel unfulfilling. That’s when we discover there’s a second mountain to ascend — a path of selflessness, relationships, and greater meaning.
Today on the show, David tells us what he got wrong in his previous book, The Road to Character, and how The Second Mountain expands the vision of the good life. We then discuss why the first mountain of life gets more attention in the West and how the hyper individualism it encourages has led to an increase in loneliness, anxiety, and existential angst. David then walks us through how we shift courses from the first mountain of achievement to the second mountain of meaning by making commitments to things outside of ourselves. We then discuss the four commitments he thinks bring us real meaning and significance, and how we can seek and find them.
- How this new book serves as a correction to The Road to Character
- Lies that culture tells us about becoming moral (and happy)
- The social history of our country’s individualism
- The downsides of this individualism
- The rise of tribalism
- Why David is optimistic about how people are using social media
- The wrong ways that people look for meaning and significance
- The first mountain vs. the second mountain of life
- How do commitments give life meaning and bring us joy?
- How you really go about “finding” yourself
- Career vs. vocation
- The next generation’s great responsibility
- Committing ourselves to “maximum marriage”
- The importance of intellectual challenge
- Making the case for faith/religion
- What does an ideal community look like?
- The interplay of these various commitments
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- My first interview with David about character
- Sources of Existential Angst
- The Character-Building School of Parenthood
- Bowling Alone
- Super Bowl III
- 9 Reasons You Should Host a Dinner Party This Weekend
- Becoming a Digital Minimalist
- Love Is All You Need
- Are Modern People the Most Exhausted in History?
- AoM series on male depression
- The Best Way to Find Your Vocation
- AoM series on vocation
- Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage
- Why Every Man Should Study the Classics
- Why You Should Join the Great Conversation
- Why You Should Go to Church (Even If You’re Not Sure of Your Beliefs)
- The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Connect With David
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Recorded on ClearCast.io
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Read the Transcript