We all possess two natures. One focuses on external success: wealth, fame, status and a great career. The other aims for internal goodness, driven by a spiritual urge not only to do good but to be good – honest, loving and steadfast. The inner self doesn’t seek happiness superficially defined; it seeks emotional commitments without counting the cost, and a deeper moral joy. Individuals and societies thrive when a general balance is struck between these two imperatives, but we live in a culture that encourages us to think about the external side of our natures rather than the inner self.
David Brooks is a columnist for The New York Times and frequent broadcaster. His previous books include the bestsellers The Social Animal and Bobos in Paradise. His New York Times columns reach over 800,000 readers across the globe.