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In a culture obsessed with happiness, this wise, stirring book points the way toward a richer, more satisfying life. Too many of us believe that the search for meaning is an esoteric pursuit--that you have to travel to a distant monastery or page through dusty volumes to discover life's secrets. The truth is, there are untapped sources of meaning all around us--right here, right now. To explore how we can craft lives of meaning, Emily Esfahani Smith synthesizes a kaleidoscopic array of sources--from psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, and neuroscientists to figures in literature and history such as George Eliot, Viktor Frankl, Aristotle, and the Buddha. Drawing on this research, Smith shows us how cultivating connections to others, identifying and working toward a purpose, telling stories about our place in the world, and seeking out mystery can immeasurably deepen our lives. To bring what she calls the four pillars of meaning 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 finds 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 that leaves space for introspection and awe, cultivates a sense of community, and imbues our lives with meaning. Inspiring and story-driven, The Power of Meaning will strike a profound chord in anyone seeking a life that matters.
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 Times, The Atlantic, TIME, 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.