On the podcast Seize the Moment, listen to Adam Adatto Sandel discuss the consequences of obsessive striving, how the philosophy of the Enlightenment helped create a culture obsessed with social progress, what Socrates can teach us about self-possession, and more:
“Here, at last, is a book about what happiness really means, and why it often eludes us in our stressed-out, always-on lives.”—Arianna Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive
A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature.
What is the meaning of the good life? In this strikingly original book, Adam Adatto Sandel draws on ancient and modern thinkers and on two seemingly disparate pursuits of his own, philosophy and fitness, to offer a surprising answer to this age-old human question.
Sandel argues that finding fulfillment is not about attaining happiness, conceived as a state of mind, or even about accomplishing one’s greatest goals. Instead, true happiness comes from immersing oneself in activity that is intrinsically rewarding. The source of meaning, he suggests, derives from the integrity or “wholeness” of self that we forge throughout the journey of life.
At the heart of Sandel’s account of life as a journey are three virtues that get displaced and distorted by our goal-oriented striving: self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Sandel offers illuminating and counterintuitive accounts of these virtues, revealing how they are essential to a happiness that lasts.
To illustrate the struggle of living up to these virtues, Sandel looks to literature, film, and television, and also to his own commitments and adventures. A focal point of his personal narrative is a passion that, at first glance, is as narrow a goal-oriented pursuit as one can imagine: training to set the Guinness World Record for Most Pull-Ups in One Minute. Drawing on his own experiences, Sandel makes philosophy accessible for readers who, in their own infinitely various ways, struggle with the tension between goal-oriented striving and the embrace of life as a journey.