In this past Sunday's Review, David Brooks wrote about ways to achieve a richer inner life that extends beyond material accomplishments. This 'moral bucket' list includes intense self-awareness and confrontation about personal weaknesses, commitment to tasks that 'can't be completed in a single lifetime', a type of love that 'decenters the self', a personal calling, and conscience leaps.
While society continuously advertises finding an avocation, not just a vocation, Brooks' other points do not necessarily fit within mainstream ideals of success. It is refreshing to read his advice about becoming intimate with your own failings in order to build a necessary dependency and sense of worth rooted in others. More importantly, he cites more examples of women than men throughout history living full lives, and uses female pronouns to talk about the merits of one's purpose.
We can all learn from his underlying message that healthy amounts of humility, gratitude, and stumbling will set us all on a moral life path.
The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love? We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light... But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary...you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self...