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The second mountain of life

  I recently read “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks. I’ll start with a few examples of who you’d like to learn from.
  Wang Feng was the best student in his class from middle school to college, and all the way to the best school, and after graduation, of course, he worked for one of the best companies. These days he became the hot spot of microblogging because he released a marriage advertisement, which listed his various excessive conditions, as well as all kinds of hard requirements for the woman. Netizens think Wang Feng is too materialistic, Wang Feng justifiably responded: I am the best, of course I want to find the best.
  Zhou Qi is a beautiful young woman, her family conditions are very good. After she graduated, she decided to see the world first, and then figure out what to do. For several years she has traveled all over the world, posting photos in her WeChat circle of friends either skiing in the Alps or fishing in Mongolia. Zhou Qi believes that the meaning of life is to experience, she wants to experience the beauty of the world while she is young.
  Ma Xiaowu is 40 years old and works as a cleaner in a hospital. The child in ward five had an incurable disease, and the child’s father, Lao Wang, was looking more desperate by the day. One day, Ma Xiaowu cleaned the ward, Old Wang happened to go out for a smoke, Ma Xiaowu finished cleaning out, and met Old Wang at the stairway. Old Wang said: “How do you work? How come you haven’t cleaned the ward by now?” Instead of retorting, Ma Xiaowu said humbly, “Sorry, I’ll sweep right away.” Then he cleaned it again in front of Old Wang.
  A politician stood under the eaves of a general’s house waiting for someone to open the door; the politician was fifty-two years old. He had avidly pursued fame and power, and now he had gotten both. Now, he needed the general to step in and help him win the civil war. The manservant said the general was not in, and the statesman said it was all right, so he waited in the drawing room. An hour later, the general returned and ignored the politician and went straight upstairs; half an hour later, the manservant came out and said the general was tired today, let’s talk about it another time. The entourage was furious, but the politician said, “Etiquette and my personal dignity are not important, as long as I can invite a general who is willing to fight for the country, I can keep waiting.”
  Wang Feng and Zhou Qi were not doing anything wrong; they were climbing the first mountain of their lives. But what Ma Xiaowu and the politician were climbing was the second mountain.
  The “second mountain” is a concept invented by Brooks. He said that there are two mountains to climb in life, the first mountain is about “self”, you want to achieve self, more and more successful, to achieve happiness; the second mountain is about others, is about “losing self”: you for others, or for a mission, rather than You would rather lose yourself for someone else or for some mission.
  Wang Feng and Zhou Qi represent the two typical concepts of life in modern society. But Brooks says that these two ways of living bring people limited happiness.
  Thirty-year-old Wang Feng is more boring than when he was twenty. You do not know what he likes, he only likes the things that “successful people” like. Zhou Qi likes a lot of things, but has never really chosen anything. After years of living in unlimited freedom, Zhou Qi had a sense of being lost.
  It’s not that the first mountain shouldn’t be climbed, but Brooks noticed that many people who had climbed the first mountain were now climbing the second one.
  The first mountain is about personal freedom, the second mountain is about responsibility, commitment and intimacy; the first mountain is about independence, the second mountain is about interdependence; the first mountain is about growth of self, the second mountain is about forgetting self; the first mountain is about getting, the second mountain is about giving.
  The second mountain is not centered on yourself, but on something else. The first mountain seeks happiness, the second mountain gets joy. Happiness here refers specifically to personal happiness. For example, if you achieve success, win in competition, achieve your goals, improve your abilities, plus various sensory pleasures, these are called happiness. Joy, on the other hand, is something else.
  There are six levels of joy in life.
  The first level of joy is the flow of the mind (the mental state when you concentrate on carrying out something). You are very involved in doing a job, and you do it exceptionally well and beautifully; you enter a state of forgetfulness and feel that you have become one with the work.
  The second level of joy is being in rapport with others. You’re sitting in a bar, music is playing, a stranger comes over and asks you to dance, and you look at him and feel in tune. You fit together so seamlessly and are so completely in tune with the music that your sense of self seems to disappear.
  The third layer of joy is the emotion of intimacy. For example, the feeling a mother has when she sees her baby for the first time; the feeling a father has when he sees his children playing happily and sneaks around to enjoy himself.
  The fourth level of joy is spiritual communication. One day, a poet found a falcon landing on a tree in his backyard. He just stared at the falcon, and the falcon stared at him. The boundary between human and animal disappeared, and the poet wished that moment would never end.
  The fifth level of joy is transcendence of self, a religious-like experience of being one with all things.
  The sixth, and highest, level of joy is moral joy. Brooks observes that those who carry heavy burdens and are always needed are not long-suffering all day long, but are joyful all day long. There is always joy on their faces.
  Happiness is fickle and fleeting, but joy is deep and lasting.

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