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David Brooks's 5-Step Guide to Being Deep - Atlantic Mobile


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We're not only obsessed with happiness. The New York Times columnist argues that we focus on accumulating power, material wealth, and professional achievements instead of cultivating the kinds of qualities that will be discussed at our funerals. As Brooks phrases it, we emphasize "resume virtues" over "eulogy virtues."

Brooks's objective is to establish a "counterculture" to our happiness culture and our resume culture. It's to fashion a path to "inner depth." In a talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, he did just that. Expanding on a column he wrote in March, Brooks wove together various philosophical, theological, and biographical threads to define what it means to be "deep," and how to lead a life of depth.

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As Brooks sees it, resume virtues and eulogy virtues represent two sides of human nature. In a 1965 essay, the American rabbi and philosopher Joseph Soloveitchik developed a dichotomy to capture this phenomenon. He distinguished between "Adam I" and "Adam II."

"Adam I is the external Adam, it's the resume Adam," Brooks explained. "Adam I wants to build, create, use, start things. Adam II is the internal Adam. Adam II wants to embody certain moral qualities, to have a serene inner character, not only to do good but to be good. To live and be is to transcend the truth and have an inner coherence of soul. Adam I, the resume Adam, wants to conquer the world…. Adam II wants to obey a calling and serve the world. Adam I asks how things work, Adam II asks why things exist and what ultimately we're here for."

Does happiness culture have to be at odds with resume culture?

No, but both seem to be at odds with eulogy culture.

Eulogy culture?!

"Internal struggles are the logic by which we build character." 

"Like love, suffering exposes our lack of control over our lives." 

Character comes from struggles.

Love cokes from living.

This article drove me to my PW Happiness stash, where I've stashed a few great articles on living a life of meaning, which is sometimes at odds with a life of happiness.

Right, Emily Esfahani Smith says it's healthier to seek meaning than to seek happiness.

We call the entire process, which David Brooks is a poster child, the Disease of  Intellect.  He states. 

"Babies are not deep. Old people can be, depending upon how they have chosen to lead their lives. Babies start out very natural"

For this statement, Brooks should be entirely renounced. 

Babies are as close to the natural state, the natural mind, the luminous mind as possible in human form. 

Natural is as deep and vast as it gets.  Everything else is a delusional reflection.  Dirt on a mirror. 

This is THE most important point for humanity and people just can't seem to get past it. 

Babies have beginner mind but they cannot use words so it's difficult for them to express themselves.

More wrong thinking. 

" Brooks cautioned. Those who have depth are "aware that while they have great strength, great dignity, they also have great weakness. And they are engaged in an internal struggle with themselves." Consider Dwight Eisenhower, who constantly tangled with his bad temper. "Internal struggles are the logic by which we build character," Brooks said.

First we are asked to assume Eisenhower was "deep". 

I can't speak to this but people willing to use nuclear weapons to destroy pieces of humanity are dubious in my book.  

Then he argues the disease of anger and struggle to subdue it is prima facie evidence of depth not in evidence.

What Brooks does all the time is to hold up an "ideal" idea or person in his mind and then formulate a delusional extrapolated world view around it and cannot understand why a large number of people disagree. He then needs a whole derivative view to explain the "wrongness" of those that do not see it as he does. 

Yes, there are many definitions of deep, and yours is not compatible with Brooks'.

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