Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there’s a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life — serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you — gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Esfahani Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.
I recommend creating habits of meaning in your daily life. In my book, I talk about 4 pillars of meaning—belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. So find ways to build these pillars in your life. For example, after writing my book, I realized that storytelling—crafting a narrative about my life and life in general—was an important source of meaning for me, so I started keeping a journal where I process different experiences I’m having. For transcendence, I make sure to regularly spend time in places that inspire awe in me, like in nature or at the art museum. I’ve found that technology can be a real barrier to both transcendence and belonging, so I’m trying to get some control over my addiction to it. Instead of checking social media or the headlines before I go to bed, I try to read a poem or listen to some music as I meditate. I don’t always succeed, but no one said trying to live a meaningful life is easy!