A Refreshingly New Approach to Personal Growth

I’m reading through David Brooks’ The Road to Character and it’s a gem.  He pulls the curtain back on several key people in history, including President Eisenhower, Victor Frankl and Frances Perkins. 

Occasionally, even today, you come across certain people who seem to possess an impressive inner cohesion.
— David Brooks

The chapter on self conquest hit me.

For generations, people of faith have applied the following prescriptions to their personal foibles and even sins:

  1. Try harder
  2. Don’t do that
  3. Be holy
  4. Try harder again

In Brooks’ discusscusion about prior generations and their vocabulary of sinfulness, he articulates a more sophisticated (yet still simple) approach to personal failing:

“Some sins, like anger and lust, are like wild beasts.  They have to be fought through habits of restraint.  Other sins, such as mockery and disrespect are like stains.  They can be expunged only through absolution…The sins of arrogance and pride arise from a perverse desire for status and superiority.  The only remedy for them is to humble oneself before others."

Becoming, as Matthew Kelly calls it, the “best version of yourself” is hard work.  It takes practice, patience and compassion towards yourself.  If you mess up, read Brooks’ book for strategies and perspectives for personal growth.