The Social Animal
ebook ∣ A Story of How Success Happens
By David Brooks
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This is the happiest story you will ever read. It's about two people who led wonderfully fulfilling, successful lives. The odd thing was, they weren't born geniuses. They had no extraordinary physical or mental gifts. Nobody would have picked them out at a young age and said they were destined for greatness. How did they do it? In the past thirty years we have learnt more about the human brain than in the previous 3000 - a scientific revolution has occurred. The unconscious mind, it turns out, is most of the mind - the place where the majority of the brain's work gets done, where our most important life decisions are made, where character is formed and the seeds of accomplishment grow. In this illuminating and compelling book, David Brooks weaves a vast array of new research into the lives of two fictional characters, Harold and Erica, following them from infancy to old age. In so doing, he reveals a fundamental new understanding of human nature. Most success stories are explained at the surface level of life. They describe academic ability, hard work and learning the right techniques to get ahead. This story - the story of Harold and Erica - is told one level down, at the level of emotions, intuitions, biases, genetic predispositions and deep inner longings. The result is a new definition of success, highlighting what economists call non-cognitive skills - those hidden qualities that can't be easily counted or measured, but which in real life lead to happiness and fulfilment. The Social Animal is a moving and nuanced intellectual adventure. Impossible to put down, it is an essential book for our time - one that will have a broad social impact and change the way we see ourselves and the world.