From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life - book cover
Job Hunting & Careers
  • Publisher : Portfolio
  • Published : 15 Feb 2022
  • Pages : 272
  • ISBN-10 : 059319148X
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593191484
  • Language : English

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life

The roadmap for finding purpose, meaning, and success as we age, from bestselling author, Harvard professor, and the Atlantic's happiness columnist Arthur Brooks.

Many of us assume that the more successful we are, the less susceptible we become to the sense of professional and social irrelevance that often accompanies aging. But the truth is, the greater our achievements and our attachment to them, the more we notice our decline, and the more painful it is when it occurs.

What can we do, starting now, to make our older years a time of happiness, purpose, and yes, success?

At the height of his career at the age of 50, Arthur Brooks embarked on a seven-year journey to discover how to transform his future from one of disappointment over waning abilities into an opportunity for progress. From Strength to Strength is the result, a practical roadmap for the rest of your life.

Drawing on social science, philosophy, biography, theology, and eastern wisdom, as well as dozens of interviews with everyday men and women, Brooks shows us that true life success is well within our reach. By refocusing on certain priorities and habits that anyone can learn, such as deep wisdom, detachment from empty rewards, connection and service to others, and spiritual progress, we can set ourselves up for increased happiness.

Read this book and you, too, can go from strength to strength.

Readers Top Reviews

Peace Finder
I was at first drawn into the book's interesting points but utterly disappointed by the end. The use of the oft-cited marshmallow experiment in over-simplified conclusions was the nail in the coffin. You might want to read it but wait until it's free on Kindle or a dollar in the used form. I wish more women, more cultures and varied socio-economic groups had been cited in the examples and stories as the perspective was narrow. A nice try but a huge disappointment.
philip wood
Life affirming! I have been moving rather painfully into my second half of life for awhile now. This book is like coming up for air. Exactly what the doctor ordered. With practical advice and clear strategies for kicking your success addiction, this book is really helpful and even life affirming. I found it to be super helpful and reassuring. There is solace in knowing that you are not alone in growing old and that there is a way to do so with grace and strength.
A great quick read that was easy to relate to and easy to grasp the concepts. We all do slow down with age and it's important to understand that and consider refocusing our lives based on that. I thought the focus on relationships and self and spirituality not necessarily new, but what was new is how this applies to workaholics and what steps they can take to get to a better state of purpose and happiness. The steps are very straightforward and very approachable. For me personally, I've learned to enjoy the process as much if not more than the outcome. This gives me many more opportunities to find gratitude and appreciation. Finally, two books referenced in this book and related that I found very helpful are Denial of Death by Ernest Becker and Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The first talks about how we try to escape death by creating legacies and outcomes (buildings named after us, name in the paper, kids). This may be ok, but we should understand why we are doing things. This might not be the best way to live a life. The second book really focuses on living a life of purpose. Many studies have shown people very satisfied with their lives when finding purpose.
Tony McMatter
Love his Atlantic column, this doesn't disappoint.

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1




Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner

Than You Think

Who are the five greatest scientists who have ever lived? This is the kind of question people like to debate in nerdy corners of the internet that you probably don't visit, and I don't intend to take you there. But no matter how much or little you know about science, your list is sure to contain Charles Darwin. He is remembered today as a man who changed our understanding of biology completely and permanently. So profound was his influence that his celebrity has never wavered since his death in 1882.

And yet Darwin died considering his career to be a disappointment.

Let's back up. Darwin's parents wanted him to be a clergyman, a career for which he had little enthusiasm or aptitude. As such, he was a lackluster student. His true love was science, which made him feel happy and alive. So it was the opportunity of a lifetime to him-"by far the most important event in my life," he later called it-when, in 1831 at age twenty-two, he was invited to join the voyage of The Beagle, a scientific sailing investigation around the world. For the next five years aboard the ship, he collected exotic plant and animal samples, sending them back to England to the fascination of scientists and the general public.

This was impressive enough to make him pretty well-known. When he returned home at age twenty-seven, however, he started an intellectual fire with his theory of natural selection, the idea that over generations, species change and adapt, giving us the multiplicity of plants and animals we see after hundreds of millions of years. Over the next thirty years, he developed his theory and published it in books and essays, his reputation growing steadily. In 1859, at age fifty, he published his magnum opus and crowning achievement, On the Origin of Species, a bestseller explaining his theory of evolution that made him into a household name and changed science forever.

At this point, however, Darwin's work stagnated creatively: he hit a wall in his research and could not make new breakthroughs. Around that same time, a Czech monk by the name of Gregor Mendel discovered what Darwin needed to continue his work: the theory of genetics. Unfortunately, Mendel's work was published in an obscure German academic journal and Darwin never saw it-and in any case, Darwin (who, remember, had been an unmotivated student) did not have the mathematical or language skills to understand it. Despite his writing numerous books later in life, his work after that broke little ground.

In his last years, Darwin was still very famous-indeed, after his death he was buried as a national hero in Westminster Abbey-but he was increasingly unhappy about his life, seeing his work as unsatisfying, unsatisfactory, and unoriginal. "I have not the heart or strength at my age to begin any investigations lasting years, which is the only thing which I enjoy," he confessed to a friend. "I have everything to make me happy and contented, but life has become very wearisome to me."

Darwin was successful by the world's standards, washed up by his own. He knew that by all worldly rights, he had everything to make him "happy and contented" but confessed that his fame and fortune were now like eating straw. Only progress and new successes such as he enjoyed in his past work could cheer him up-and this was now beyond his abilities. So he was consigned to unhappiness in his decline. Darwin's melancholy did not abate, by all accounts, before he died at seventy-three.

I'd like to be able to tell you that Darwin's decline and unhappiness in old age were as rare as his achievements, but that's not true. In fact, Darwin's decline was completely normal, and right on schedule. And if you, like Darwin, have worked hard to be exceptional at what you do, you will almost certainly face a similar pattern of decline and disappointment-and it will come much, much sooner than you think.

The surprising earliness of decline

Unless you follow the James Dean formula-"Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse"-you know that your professional, physical, and mental decline is inevitable. You probably just think it's a long, long way off.