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Writer David Brooks Speaks to Students and Parents in Separate Belmont Hill Events

On November 15, New York Times columnist and best-selling author David Brooks spoke to the boys in Hamilton Chapel in the morning, and to parents that evening. Mr. Brooks is the author of “The Road to Character” and “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.” He is also a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR and the PBS NewsHour.

Mr. Brooks spoke to the boys about his own thoughts on character. He gave the example of what he referred to as “Resume Virtues,” professional rather than ethical, and “Eulogy Virtues,” which refer to how you will be viewed and remembered when you’re gone. He spoke of character as falling in love with a belief and building a structure around it. He urged the boys to consider what their true love might be.

Mr. Brooks explained to the boys that he writes at least 1,000 words every single day, usually before his first cup of coffee. He encouraged the boys to think about their writing and to exhibit structure and discipline to it.

He closed by talking about the concept of joy. Happiness, he said, is feeling big about yourself, while joy is “self-extinction.” The highest joy is spiritual—not necessarily religious—but not centered on yourself.  A lengthy q&a ensued after his talk. 

In the evening, Mr. Brooks engaged parents in a discussion. The basis of his talk stemmed from nurturing three desirable personality traits: seeing with understanding,  affirming with insight, and critiquing with care. He took several questions at the conclusion.

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