If given the choice between a "tremendous professional triumph" and a "severe personal blow," which would you take? That's the "philosophic question" exercising David Brooks in The New York Times. The face of the actress Sandra Bullock stares out from almost every celebrity magazine on the newsstand this week, as revelations of her husband's infidelities pile up. But Bullock's award for "Best Actress" at this year's Oscars will provide scant relief from her personal turmoil, says Brooks. The greatest happiness in life comes from "personal relationships," but it's amazing, writes Brooks, how often we "pay attention to the wrong things." An excerpt:

"Most people vastly overestimate the extent to which more money would improve our lives. Most schools and colleges spend too much time preparing students for careers and not enough preparing them to make social decisions. Most governments release a ton of data on economic trends but not enough on trust and other social conditions.

"In short, modern societies have developed vast institutions oriented around the things that are easy to count, not around the things that matter most. They have an affinity for material concerns and a primordial fear of moral and social ones."

Read the full story at The New York Times


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