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 course 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.

Resources Related to the Podcast

Our first interview with David about characterSources of Existential AngstThe Character-Building School of ParenthoodBowling AloneSuper Bowl III9 Reasons You Should Host a Dinner Party This WeekendBecoming a Digital MinimalistLove Is All You NeedAre Modern People the Most Exhausted in History?AoM series on male depressionThe Best Way to Find Your VocationAoM series on vocationTim Keller’s The Meaning of MarriageWhy Every Man Should Study the ClassicsWhy You Should Join the Great ConversationWhy 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

Second Mountain by David Brooks book cover.

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