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The Book started with the importance of meaning in Life, Life of purpose, meaning rather than quest for happiness. And then how to find the meaning of our life, its pillars Belongings, Purpose, Story Telling & Transcendences. How to find the pillars of Meaning of life.
I got the information about the book from TED Talk, which was given by author, Emily and immediately glued to the concept of meaning in life.
It was riveting experience & I was glued to the book till it is finished. The background study, the back-up data or experience of the Author was great. The experience’s connections to its pillars were great. The example are live current example, the person’s which are currently doing / following these pillars. I goggled almost every person / place / community, which are mentioned in the book and found more about them, their experiences.
The book was great journey into the lives of others and in between searching for meaning of life for self. It was great introspection experience of life time, it tickles your brain to think extra, do extra, find that extra in you. To do extra for others, not for self. The Power of Meaning
This is a book about the search for the meaning and purpose of life. There are innumerable books on this subject but this one is a refreshing in many ways. The author comes from a family of Sufis in Iran but has settled as a psychologist in New York. Her account of the practices of Sufis in their search for meaning illuminates for outsiders that religion in itself is probably harmless. It is when religion mixes with politics that things go awry. Politics is an undiluted poison.
Smith examines despondency and mental distress associated with the loss of a sense of purpose, and the various ways one can overcome that. She provides examples from Leo Tolstoy to Will Durant, and to films like ‘Good Will Hunting’. The theme of this book is that we need to find a meaning and purpose in life. That is a fine thing for some people, and this book augments religion and philosophy insofar as they reach out to people who are searching for the meaning in life.
This book therefore does not take into account that there is an alternative view – that there is no meaning or purpose in life except to be good, do good, and live. There is some overlap in this view and hers, but the critical difference is that the alternative view accepts that there is no ‘meaning’ – whatever that might mean – to life. We exist, then we cease to exist. To live is to die. That applies to all living things, plant or animal. We are no exception. But that does not mean that those who accept this are zombies or are inhuman, or are desperate and unhappy. The flaw in Smith’s thesis lies in the assumption that unless we actively search for meaning and to live life the way she prescribes, we end up despondent and suicidal.
Her account of how retirees live is an example. She holds the view that unless they have a purpose in life, retirees are going to be unhappy in retirement. She thinks that retirees must learn to contribute to society. People who spend the better part of their lives in service of society might wish to relax and spend the rest of their lives for themselves. Should society begrudge them that if that makes them happy? Again, there is an overlap between the two alternative views. Some retirees continue to contribute, some a lot more, some a lot less, and some not at all. That does not mean that they are or will be unhappy unless they find a meaning in life. She may not appreciate that many retirees, precisely because they are at that stage in life, see no purpose in finding the meaning of life. Perhaps they have been there, done that. It is an attitude that is not the preserve of retirees. The enlightened youth can be happy, contribute to society, and be good, without searching for the meaning of life. If there is that answer will be an eternal best seller topping any other book on earth. Don’t worry, be good, be happy.
During a difficult period at work, I was recommended this book, and I found it helpful. My greatest problem was storytelling. I was telling myself the kind of stories that the books advises against, so trying to change the story felt like first thing I had to deal with. Belonging was the second problem, but I was able to identify with colleagues in a similar situation, so that was helpful, and then I was able to focus on purpose. I have more difficulty connecting with the concept of transcendence, as described in the book, but when I've heard the author talk about "flow", I think I get the idea. There are still difficulties, but my experience so far is that the four pillars of meaning presents itself as a useful framework for trying to get back on track.
If you are looking for the usual self help happiness guide then this isn't the book for you. If you are looking for a brilliantly researched, fascinatingly illustrative guide to what really brings fulfilment and high quality of life then this is the book for you. The depth of evidence supporting the four pillars of meaning as crucial to a life well lived and yes ultimately to happiness are brought to life not only with excellent scientific backing but also fascinating and vivid stories of individual's lives. As a Nichiren Buddhist and SGI member I can see how the four pillars have been manifesting in my life and it supports my choices and the meaning of my life and practice. This book is incredibly important to guide people away from purely seeking happiness through therapies, self indulgence and hedonism and has an underlying message of the importance of making helping others the key to a great life. I feel the title also is a subtle nod and challenge to Tolle's the Power of Now which focuses only on the moment and transcendence. The Power of Meaning is a far greater book in expansively looking at our full humanity and what it means to be fully alive whatever our background, race, religion.
A great book, with lots of insight - probably too 'self improvement' oriented for some, but hit the spot for me as I transition into the third age and seek to live life out in the fullest and most meaningful way that I can....