I just read the best book last week: The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness by Emily Esfahani Smith (Broadway Books, 2017).
The book’s premise is that, rather than the search for constant happiness, fulfillment by living a life supported by meaning is the worthier, more sustainable, more enriching, and best of all, more attainable goal.
Emily Esfahani Smith describes four pillars that comprise a meaningful life (belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence), providing rich examples for each and supporting evidence for her conclusions from literature, history, neuroscience, sociological and psychological research, and present-day case studies. If you are a fan of Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning), this book will probably resonate with you.
In sum, the essential elements to living a meaningful life (and she provides a variety of examples of each of these, in case you need a little help) are: 1) a sense of belonging, 2) a sense of purpose, 3) the ability to share your personal experience with others, and 4) awe-inspiring experiences.
At 320 pages, I found it a relatively quick read—but not too quick—and a good one to throw in the beach bag or keep on the bedside table.