The Next Big Challenge in Your Life

By The Aspen Institute

What if you examined your life in the context of all of its stages? The annunciation and initiation phases in your youth and young adulthood are full of discovery and learning. Then, the odyssey years in your twenties bring wandering and loneliness and lead to a commitment-making phase in your thirties. David Brooks, author and New York Times op-ed columnist, says life’s mountains and valleys shape who we are and eventually lead us to a “second mountain.” This phase, later in life, often results in a feeling of true peace and happiness. In this lecture, Brooks uses examples from his own life and of others who encountered challenges along the way, like biologist E.O. Wilson, Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. Find our companion episode, "A Conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg," by clicking here. Find the Aspen Insight episode featuring the Aspen Words Literary Prize here. Follow our show on Twitter @aspenideas and Facebook at Email your comments to

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