Summary of The Lies Our Culture Tells Us About What Matters – and a Better Way to Live

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The Lies Our Culture Tells Us About What Matters – and a Better Way to Live summary
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New York Times columnist David Brooks is “a very average person with above average communication skills.” In this TED Talk, he poignantly describes feelings of loneliness and the desire for connection that most people harbor but few can so elegantly articulate. Disillusioned by life in the rat race, Brooks took time out to discover the true source of joy in life. His candid, honest presentation offers a timely reminder of what matters above all: human connection.

About the Speaker

New York Times columnist David Brooks is the author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.



Society erroneously lauds the value of personal accomplishment, happiness and fulfillment.

In 2013, David Brooks’s marriage ended, his children left for college, and he realized that the US conservative party, to which he’d dedicated much of his life, had radically changed. Feeling lonely and adrift, he discovered that society had fed him three lies:

  1. “Career success is fulfilling” – Brooks realized that while his successful career helped him avoid shame, it didn’t bring him deep satisfaction.
  2. “I can make myself happy” – Many people believe that achieving a personal goal, such as, say, losing some weight, will make them happy. But only deep relationships with others will bring joy. 
  3. “You are what you accomplish” – Meritocracy’s underlying message states that “people who’ve achieved a little more than others are actually worth a little more than others...

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