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The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life

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Everybody tells you to live for a cause larger than yourself, but how exactly do you do it? This book explores exactly what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world. It describes how every so often, you meet people who radiate joy, who seem to know why they were put on this earth, who glow with a kind of inner light.

Life, for these people, has often followed what we might think of as a two-mountain shape. They get out of school, they start a career, and they begin climbing the mountain they thought they were meant to climb. Their goals on this first mountain are the ones our culture endorses: to be a success, to make your mark, to experience personal happiness.

But when they get to the top of that mountain, something happens. They look around and find the view . . . unsatisfying. They realize: This wasn’t my mountain after all. There’s another, bigger mountain out there that is actually my mountain. And so they embark on a new journey.

On The Second Mountain, life moves from self-centered to other-centered. They want the things that are truly worth wanting, not the things other people tell them to want. They embrace a life of interdependence, not independence. They surrender to a life of commitment.

In short, this book is meant to help us all lead more meaningful lives. But it’s also a provocative social commentary. We live in a society, Brooks argues, that celebrates freedom, that tells us to be true to ourselves, at the expense of surrendering to a cause, rooting ourselves in a neighborhood, binding ourselves to others by social solidarity and love. We have taken individualism to the extreme—and in the process we have torn the social fabric in a thousand different ways. The path to repair is through making deeper commitments. The book shows you what can happen when we put commitment-making at the center of our lives.

This one will rock your world.