Book Review: The Power of Meaning

The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness by Emily Esfahani Smith

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Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Broadway Books
ISBN: 9780553446562
Genre: Psychology, Personal Growth, Philosophy
Pages: 320
Source: Blogging for Books

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This wise, stirring book argues that the search for meaning can immeasurably deepen our lives, and that it is far more fulfilling than the pursuit of personal happiness
There is a myth in our culture that the search for meaning is some esoteric pursuit that you have to travel to a distant monastery or page through dusty volumes to figure out life s great secret. The truth is, there are untapped sources of meaning all around us right here, right now. Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology; on insights from Aristotle, George Eliot, Viktor Frankl, the Buddha, and other great minds; and on interviews with seekers of meaning, Emily Esfahani Smith identifies four pillars of meaning: Belonging, Purpose, Storytelling, and Transcendence.
To bring those concepts to life, Smith visits a tight-knit fishing village in the Chesapeake Bay, stargazes in West Texas, attends a dinner where young people gather to share their experiences of profound loss, and more. She also introduces us to compelling seekers of meaning from the drug kingpin who found his purpose in helping people get fit to the artist who draws on her Hindu upbringing to create arresting photographs. And she explores how we might begin to build a culture of meaning in our schools, our workplaces, and our communities.
Inspiring and story-driven, “The Power of Meaning” will strike a profound chord in anyone seeking a richer, more satisfying life.”

My Thoughts

This book started out strong. I was really excited to read this one, as my husband is crazy about philosophy and living/creating a meaningful life. The first few chapters made me excited and ready to learn more. But as I kept reading, I felt that some parts fell a bit flat. In the book, Emily discusses the four different “pillars of meaning” that we all need to have in our lives so that we can have meaning. While she talks about each of them, each in a separate chapter, I wanted more. I wanted more depth. There were many stories and examples of people who use/have the pillars of meaning as a part of their life, but not a lot about how to actually apply the principles.

When we were on the plane last week, Griffin read the first chapter, and he said that he wanted more depth as well. I enjoyed this book though. It gave me a clearer vision of what I want in my own life. And how the world really does focus so much on happiness yet we are all so unhappy. I hope that after reading The Power of Meaning, I’ll focus more on finding and creating meaning in my life instead of focusing solely on my personal happiness.

Meaning is something that I hope to think about more and read more. While this book wasn’t perfect, it did give me more of a foundation on where I’d like to go. I gave The Power of meaning 3.5/5 stars. I did receive this book for free from the publisher and Blogging for books, all opinions are my own.

About the Author

Emily Esfahani Smith is an author and writer who draws on psychology, philosophy, and literature to write about the human experience—why we are the way we are and how we can find grace and meaning in a world that is full of suffering. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York TimesThe AtlanticTIME, and other publications. She is also an instructor in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as an editor at the Stanford University Hoover Institution, where she manages the Ben Franklin Circles project, a collaboration with the 92nd Street Y and Citizen University to build meaning in local communities. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Emily grew up in Montreal, Canada. She graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a masters in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives with her husband in Washington, DC.

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2 comments / Add your comment below

    1. I did enjoy reading it, so I would recommend. It definitely made me think and hopefully gave me the inspiration to make some changes!

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