The Road to Character - Deepstash
The Road to Character

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The Road to Character

by David Brooks

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Showing Off A Fake Image On Social Media

Social media has made a shift from a place to express ourselves to an arena for self-promotion.

The internet itself is just a mirror of what our society has evolved into. These days we are increasingly concerned with ourselves and what we need. Living like this puts people under constant pressure to perform and compete. Because of this stress, we forget that what we really want is for people to remember us for who we were, not for what we did. 

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The Three Lessons For Self Improvement

Here are the 3 most significant lessons about becoming a better person:

  • The world today emphasizes too much of the “me” extrovert inside of us, but things used to be different.
  • We have lost the connection with the moral values that bring us true happiness. 
  • To find real character, acknowledge your flaws, and throw away your pride.

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The Two Personalities

Each of us is filled with two competing personality types, called Adams.

Adam I is the part of us that focuses on the external. He is most comfortable in our success-driven society because he wants a career, wealth, and social status. 

We’ve almost forgotten the Adam II personality in today’s society. He is an introvert that has a strong moral compass, values, and virtues. This other self within us is what makes us human by giving us virtues like kindness, devotion, and courage. Though we all have both, only one can dominate at the same time, and Adam I dominates in our society today.

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Accomplish Anything Mindset

Instead of using principles such as integrity, commitment, and kindness to lead our actions, nowadays, we increasingly follow our desires wherever they lead us. For example, the world now emphasizes that whatever we set our mind to, we can accomplish. 

Though it might sound inspiring, this allows us to reduce everything we do into an equation of cost and opportunity. Instead of investing time in things out of loyalty or love, we focus on whatever helps us climb the social ladder. 

Unfortunately, our lives now revolve around how we do things instead of why.

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The Problematic Modern Parenting

The days of focusing on a loving parent-child relationship are fading, while children are increasingly becoming a tool for self-promotion. Report cards and sports victories are badges of honour more for parents than children. 

Rather than investing time in making sure kids are well-rounded, parents push kids to learn skills that will look good on a resume, whether they enjoy them or not.

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Acknowledge Your Flaws

The more concerned we become with the self, the more we lose sight of our deeper morals. So what can you do about it? Be more honest about your flaws. Being open and realistic about weaknesses will help you get over your self-centeredness and make it easier to embrace moral and social values like love and compassion for others. 

We don’t have any problems sharing information about our lives. But we need to create less narcissistic content and instead talk more about our struggles.

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Throw Away Your Pride

Throwing away pride is also essential to becoming humble and building good character. Pride blinds us to our weaknesses, inhibits the aid we receive from others, makes cruelty possible, and deludes us into believing we are the author of our own lives. We can rid ourselves of pride by admitting our flaws and accepting the help of others.

Only by throwing away this central vice can we really balance Adam I and Adam II, thus finding fulfilment.

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DAVID BROOKS

We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success, but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy, and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character.

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Stop Seeking Happiness

Happiness is a byproduct of living an intentional life, it is not something you chase after as a means to its own end. We need to engage in a lifelong conversation with ourselves constantly negotiating our weakness with moral fortitude as our leverage.

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The Humility Code

The Humility Code consists of certain principles that guide us towards moral uprightness. It is a counter to the moral ecology that currently rules the 21st century and aims to depict how to live and what to live for.

Life is essentially a moral drama, not a hedonistic one. Live for holiness, not happiness.

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The goal of life is overcoming our personal moral struggles. To do this we need an accurate depiction of our nature; we need to accept our inherent flaws as living beings.

While flawed, we also have the tools for liberation. Introspection allows us to become aware of our sins, and engage in a never-ending struggle against ourselves.

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Humility And Pride

When engaging with our sins we need humility. Humility is our greatest virtue because it accurately depicts human nature relative to the seemingly infinite universe. Alone we are the underdogs against our sins; humility reminds us of this.

Pride is a central vice. Pride blinds us to our weaknesses and tricks us into thinking we are better than who we actually are and aims to prove we are better than those around us.

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Virtue And Character

If our physiological needs are met, our next focus must be to fight for virtue. The struggle against sin and weakness is not to ‘win,’ because that is not possible; it is to get better at waging it. Become willing to take part in an unwinnable battle.

We build character. Over the course of our lives, we can become more disciplined through acts of self-control. By gradually incorporating the marks of good character in our lives, we can habitually develop consistency and dependability.

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Self Mastery

What arises in the short term will blind us–lust, fear, vanity, gluttony. What lasts over the long term–honesty, humility, courage– assists us in developing resilience and dedication to our callings.

Character allows us to pursue a task that we know will outlive our morality.

No person can achieve self-mastery on his or her own. It takes a strong person to admit that our journey cannot be made alone. We need outside assistance. But no matter the source, it is our mission to wage battle against our sins and weaknesses in conjunction with others.

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Muting Our Ego

Defeating weakness often means quieting the self.” Mute the ego. Equanimity will prepare us for the ups and downs that are inevitable to our journey. Battling weakness requires modesty, a higher purpose, and the capacity for reverence and admiration.

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Leadership With Humility

The best leader tries to lead along the grain of human nature rather than go against it. Leadership is the balance between values and goals. And a good leader recognizes the contrast between the two due to our selfish nature. Therefore, it is the leader’s job to limit the poor decisions made by the group and take advantage of the good.

The leader does not aim for perfection because he understands that is not possible. Instead, his aim is to leave the group slightly better off from where it started.

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Becoming Mature

The moral ecological shift outlined may not lead to fame or fortune but it will breed maturity. We can become better. Better is based solely on where we used to be and is not measured through comparison with others. The mature person has moved from fragmentation to centeredness, has achieved a state in which the restlessness is over, and the confusion about the meaning and purpose of life is calmed.

Maturity is the sole indicator of success against our weaknesses, not riches or fame.

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CURATED BY

coab

Education officer at museum

CURATOR'S NOTE

We live in a culture that teaches us to promote and advertise ourselves and to master the skills required for success, but that gives little encouragement to humility, sympathy, and honest self-confrontation, which are necessary for building character

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