The lies our culture tells us about what matters --- and a better way to live | David Brooks Mormon LDS Nephi Ted Talk

New York Times columnist David Brooks and Nephi expound on JOY (The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live)

“Joy is not the expansion of self, it’s the dissolving of self.”

Our society is in the midst of a social crisis, says op-ed columnist and author David Brooks: we’re trapped in a valley of isolation and fragmentation.

How do we find our way out?

Based on his travels across the United States — and his meetings with a range of exceptional people known as “weavers” — Brooks lays out his vision for a cultural revolution that empowers us all to lead lives of greater meaning, purpose, and joy.

In many ways, what Brooks says dovetails into living “after the manner of happiness” (2 Ne. 5:27). In The Book of Mormon, this passage concerns the period of time just after Nephi had separated from Laman and Lemuel and departed into the wilderness and established a society founded on gospel truths. Brooks discusses:

My theory of social change is that society changes when a small group of people find a better way to live, and the rest of us copy them. And these weavers have found a better way to live. And you don’t have to theorize about it. They are out there as community builders all around the country. We just have to shift our lives a little, so we can say, “I’m a weaver, we’re a weaver.” And if we do that, the hole inside ourselves gets filled, but more important, the social unity gets repaired.

He also goes on to say that “[w]e talk a lot about the political revolution we need. The cultural revolution is more important.


Brooks’ observations about JOY in this TED talk are very insightful. In my estimation, they tie directly to 2 Nephi 2:25 (“men are that they might have JOY”—NOT happiness).

On the first mountain of our life, when we’re shooting for our career, we shoot for happiness. And happiness is good, it’s the expansion of self. You win a victory, you get a promotion, your team wins the Super Bowl, you’re happy. Joy is not the expansion of self, it’s the dissolving of self. It’s the moment when the skin barrier disappears between a mother and her child, it’s the moment when a naturalist feels just free in nature. It’s the moment where you’re so lost in your work or a cause, you have totally self-forgotten. And joy is a better thing to aim for than happiness. 

Take a listen and tell us what you think in the comments below!


Read Brooks’ NEW YORK TIMES opinion column on this topic here.


You can see David Brooks’ full TED talk below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You May Also Like