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
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.
"Beautifully written and rigorously researched, The Power of
Meaning speaks to the yearning we all share for a life of depth
and significance. In a culture constantly shouting about happiness,
this warm and wise book leads us down the path to what truly
matters. Reading it is a life-transforming experience."
--SUSAN CAIN, author of Quiet "The analysis that opens the book, and that structures the whole, is simple and elegant... The insight that, in our daily lives, we need to think of others and to have goals that include caring for others or working for something other than our own prosperity and advancement is the most valuable message in the book."
--WALL STREET JOURNAL "An enlightening guide to discovering meaning in one's life... Smith persuasively reshapes the reader's understanding of what constitutes a well-lived life."
--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY "Thoughtful... Underscoring the power of connection, the author assures readers that finding meaning is not the result of 'some great revelation' but rather small gestures and humble acts."
--KIRKUS REVIEWS "A riveting read on the quest for the one thing that matters more than happiness. Emily Esfahani Smith reveals why we lose meaning in our lives and how to find it. Beautifully written, evidence-based, and inspiring, this is a book I've been awaiting for a very long time."
--ADAM GRANT, author of Originals and Give and Take; professor at the Wharton School
"From sleep-deprived teens to overworked professionals, Americans are suffering from an epidemic of stress and exhaustion. It's clear our definition of success is broken. As Emily Esfahani Smith shows, only by finding our purpose and opening ourselves to life's mystery can we find true well being. Combining cutting-edge research with storytelling, The Power of Meaning inspires us to zero in on what really matters."
--ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, author of Thrive "A wonderful, engaging writer... [Smith] offers clear, compelling, and above all useful advice for how to live with meaning and purpose."
--ROD DREHER, The American Conservative
"This powerful, beautifully written book weaves together seamlessly cutting-edge psychological research, moving personal narratives and insights from great literature to make a convincing case that the key to a good life is finding or creating meaning."
--BARRY SCHWARTZ, author of The Paradox of Choice; emeritus professor of psychology, Swarthmore College "The Power of Meaning deftly tells the stories of people, contemporary and historical, who have made the quest for meaning the mission of their lives. This powerful yet elegant book will inspire you to live a life of significance."
--DANIEL H. PINK, author of Drive "A beautiful book, full of hope. While drawing on the best scientific evidence, it also stirs us with powerful narratives of living full of meaning."
--LORD RICHARD LAYARD, Director, Well-Being Programme, Centre for Economic Performance
"The search for meaning just got a little easier, and a little more fun. To follow Emily Esfahani Smith in this great human quest is to undertake a rewarding journey with a sure-footed guide."
--DARRIN M. MCMAHON, author of Happiness: A History; Mary Brinsmead Wheelock Professor of History, Dartmouth College "All too often, we sleepwalk through life without examining it. The Power of Meaning shows us another path. How can we find purpose? What role does our work have in the search for meaning? This deeply researched--yet highly readable--book can help you answer those questions."
--CHRIS GUILLEBEAU, author of Born for This and The $100 Startup "A powerful invitation to live a life that is not only happy but filled with purpose, belonging, and transcendence. By combining scientific research and philosophical insights with moving accounts of ordinary people who have deeply meaningful lives, Smith addresses the most urgent questions of our existence in a delightful, masterful, and inspiring way."
--EMMA SEPP L , author of The Happiness Track; Science Director, Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism "An intelligent page-turner... In a world that seems caught between pure hedonism and divisive sectarianism, the book mounts a timely challenge."