The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (2019)
Joy is not just a feeling. It can be an outlook on life as a whole.
What is the book really about?
Joy is not just a feeling, writes David Brooks in the book’s introduction, it can be an outlook on life as a whole. And so he starts the argument that we pursue success early in life by getting out of school, starting a career, a family etc etc. This is the first mountain most people climb. Once we reach the top of this first mountain - having attained nice homes, friends, etc, people sense there’s more - a deeper journey they can take. This is the second mountain. For Brooks making it to the second mountain essentially involves two things: Shifting focus away from the self by putting it on other people - as individuals and in groups or communities. Secondly, making lasting commitments, which Brooks defines as “making a promise to something without expecting a reward.”
Why do I think it's worth reading?
I like how Brooks - in a very calming writing style, explains that the joys and deeper meanings of life can be found by all! They are not so esoteric or elusive that only a prestigious few can ever attain it. But what it does require is an awareness of the personal cost of individualism and a self-centered focus: Loneliness and fractured community.
What do you think?
Brooks reports that “second mountain” climbers are people rooted in their commitments to 4 specific things: A vocation, a spouse & family, a philosophy or faith, and a community. How did these bring you deeper joy and meaning in your life? Or what else would you add to this list?
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