Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, presented a book talk on Monday, February 11, in Gilchrist Auditorium.
"Meaning, not happiness, is the key to a good life" is the message at the core of Ms. Smith's book, which outlines four pillars essential to living a life that matters: belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling. "We're all striving for happiness — but our culture's obsession with instant gratification is only making us miserable," writes Ms. Smith. In The Power of Meaning, Ms. Smith offers methods for individuals to let go of unreasonable, unattainable standards of happiness, overcome adversity, and pursue goals that reward over the long haul.
Ms. Smith's work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TIME, and other publications. Her TED talk, "There's More to Life Than Being Happy," was one of the 10 most popular TED talks of the year in 2017.
Ms. Smith is a former instructor in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a columnist for The New Criterion, as well as an editor at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, where she manages the Ben Franklin Circles project, a collaboration with the 92nd Street Y and Citizen University to build meaning in local communities. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Ms. Smith grew up in Montreal, Canada. She graduated from Dartmouth College and earned a master's degree in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.