The Power Of Meaning Book Summary - The Power Of Meaning Book explained in key points
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The Power Of Meaning summary

Emily Esfahani Smith

Crafting a Life That Matters

4.5 (351 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith explores how living a meaningful life, not a happy one, is the key to achieving lasting fulfillment. Through compelling stories and research, Smith offers insights into the essential elements that create a purposeful life.

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    The Power Of Meaning
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    Focus on the four pillars of meaning.

    Take a minute to think about the current state of your life. Would you say that you live comfortably and have enough money in your pocket? Even if this is the case, you’re still not guaranteed to live a meaningful life.

    Worryingly, suicide rates are actually increasing in wealthy countries. A study conducted by the psychologists Shigehiro Oishi and Ed Diener in 2014 found that even though people from countries such as the United States and Sweden were generally happier than those in poorer countries such as Togo and Sierra Leone, the suicide rate was significantly higher in the wealthier countries.  

    As for the reasoning behind this, the study discovered that although modern life has its material and psychological benefits, the constant focus on the individual can sap life of true meaning. In fact, when it comes to the concept of “meaning,” the study found that nearly a quarter of Americans couldn’t say what makes their lives meaningful.

    This is especially concerning because, according to psychologists like Roy Baumeister, who has specifically researched what makes a good life, having a meaningful life is far more fulfilling than having a happy one.

    In order to start your journey toward living a more meaningful life, you should maintain these four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling and transcendence. These categories constantly reemerge whenever people describe what makes their lives meaningful.

    Once, Mahatma Gandhi explained that living a meaningful life involved having the purpose of serving others, while the filmmaker Carl Laemmle believed that meaning comes from the belonging he felt when bonding with his children.

    Philosophers and psychologists also frequently refer to these four pillars. From Aristotle to Baumeister, it has been argued that meaning arises from belonging, having a purpose related to contributing to something larger, making sense of the world and your experiences and connecting with something greater than yourself.

    By keeping these four pillars in mind, meaning can be discovered in both fresh and unexpected places. In the following blink, we’ll start with the first pillar: you’ll find out how a sense of belonging can lead to a more meaningful life.

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    Key ideas in The Power Of Meaning

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    What is The Power Of Meaning about?

    The Power of Meaning (2017) discusses the four pillars of meaning that a person should honor if they hope to lead a fulfilling life. This book encourages readers to discover themselves by searching for a purpose in life, connecting with others, engaging in transcendence and learning from past traumas.

    The Power Of Meaning Review

    The Power Of Meaning (2017) explores the quest for a fulfilling life through the pursuit of meaning. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With insightful anecdotes and engaging storytelling, it offers a fresh perspective on finding purpose in our lives, making it relatable and thought-provoking.
    • The book delves into the four pillars of meaning - belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence - providing practical wisdom for creating a meaningful life.
    • By drawing on research, philosophy, and psychology, it offers compelling evidence for the importance of meaning and how it can positively impact our well-being and happiness.

    Best quote from The Power Of Meaning

    If we want to find meaning in our own lives, we have to begin by reaching out.

    —Emily Esfahani Smith
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    Who should read The Power Of Meaning?

    • Anyone interested in spirituality  
    • Those struggling through hardship
    • People interested in psychology, philosophy and literature

    About the Author

    Emily Esfahani Smith is an editor at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and writes about culture and psychology for the New Criterion. Her articles have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Atlantic.

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    The Power Of Meaning FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Power Of Meaning?

    The main message of The Power Of Meaning is that a meaningful life is built on purpose, belonging, storytelling, and transcendence.

    How long does it take to read The Power Of Meaning?

    The reading time for The Power Of Meaning varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Power Of Meaning a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Power Of Meaning is a thought-provoking book that explores the importance of finding meaning in our lives. It offers valuable insights and practical wisdom for personal growth.

    Who is the author of The Power Of Meaning?

    The author of The Power Of Meaning is Emily Esfahani Smith.

    What to read after The Power Of Meaning?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Power Of Meaning, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg
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    • Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
    • My Morning Routine by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander
    • Happiness By Design by Paul Dolan
    • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
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