Our culture is obsessed with happiness. And yet, despite millions of dollars invested in the happiness industry, many of us feel aimless, alienated, even despairing. Well, what if we've been chasing the wrong thing? Psychological research shows that the pursuit of happiness can actually make us less happy—that the key to a richer, more satisfying life is the pursuit of meaning.
So, how do you live a meaningful life? And what are its effects? To answer those questions, I interviewed dozens of meaning-seekers, immersed myself in classic works of philosophy and literature, went stargazing in Texas, and attended an ancient monastic service in Seattle. In the end, I turned my findings into a book: The Power of Meaning. The foundation for a meaningful life—the principles upon which everything else is built—is what I've come to call the four pillars of meaning: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. Here are the basics of each pillar: