What’s Most Important?

David Brooks’ Advice for High School Graduates:

The most important decision any of us make is who we marry. Yet there are no courses on how to choose a spouse. There’s no graduate department in spouse selection studies. Institutions of higher learning devote more resources to semiotics than love.

The most important talent any person can possess is the ability to make and keep friends. And yet here too there is no curriculum for this.

The most important skill a person can possess is the ability to control one’s impulses. Here too, we’re pretty much on our own.

These are all things with a provable relationship to human happiness. Instead, society is busy preparing us for all the decisions that have a marginal effect on human happiness. There are guidance offices to help people in the monumental task of selecting a college. There are business schools offering lavish career placement services. There is a vast media apparatus offering minute advice on how to furnish your home or expand your deck.

I’ve never heard it put so succinctly.

Atom Feed for Comments 2 Responses to “What’s Most Important?”

  1. Wladimir Palant Says:

    Wow, I just recently had a discussion with my wife that went along the same lines. Thanks a lot for sharing, great article!

  2. Sean Hogan Says:

    I would have thought that the most important thing was the ability to bounce back when things don’t turn out the way we had been hoping. You know, like your partner has a debilitating accident or your friend crashes your car or you invest in the share-market.

    Matter-of-fact, my kid’s school has just started a ‘resiliency’ program. I guess in twenty years time I’ll be able to tell you if this ability can be taught.

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