The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters by Emily Esfahanhi Smith examines four key pillars that bring meaning to one’s life. The author clarifies the distinction between a happy life and a meaningful life. She points out those who are truly happy have their minds fixed on something other than their own happiness. “If hedonia is defined as ‘feeling good,’ they argue, then eudaimonia is defined as ‘being and doing good’ – and as ‘seeking to use and develop the best in oneself’ in a way that fits with ‘one’s deeper principles'” (p. 14).
“‘Happiness without meaning,’ the researchers wrote, ‘characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desires are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided'” (p. 15). As the author researched the ways people experience meaning in life, she discovered four recurring themes, “They are the four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence” (p. 41).
A chapter is devoted to each of these pillars revealing their effectiveness through research, literature, and examples from everyday life. All of us experience adversity in our lives and as it’s been said, “Difficulties can either make us or break us.” The author points out that we can become stronger by incorporating the pillars of meaning in our lives. “We do so by relying on he pillars of belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. If those pillars are strong, we’ll be able to lean on them when adversity strikes” (p. 157). The Apostle Paul made this same claim as he wrote to the church in Rome,
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
This book is an encouraging reminder of the importance of finding meaning in your life. (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).
Associate Pastor – Discipleship. The Church at LifePark
Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University
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