Here are a few books I’ve come across that may help you think about what would make your life meaningful and how to go about designing it.
I’ve listed the books in alphabetical order by title:
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
I found this book to be very interesting because the authors show you how to use a design mindset rather than an engineering mindset when creating a life full of meaning—your dream life.
The authors explain the difference between design thinking and engineering thinking as the difference between thinking to create (design) and thinking to build (engineering). With engineering thinking, you are building something, say, a house or a bridge. There are templates, formulas, similar things that others have already built. You may have to use a little design thinking—for instance, the terrain may pose challenges that haven’t really been solved before so you and your team have to be creative—but for the most part, you’re working with a number of “knowns”.
In design thinking, you’re basically making stuff up and trying it out, tweaking it or making more stuff up, trying that out, tweaking…etc.. You know what you want to achieve, but there are no templates, formulas, or “knowns” to work with. You have to get creative, brainstorm, try out all sorts of things, refine and remake, try out things again…etc..
The authors point out that these are two different types of thinking. One is not superior to the other, in fact, both types of thinking are needed to live in the world. It’s helpful to have a clear understanding of these types of thinking because if (when!) you get stuck, it could be that you’re bringing the wrong type of thinking to the situation.
The book focuses mainly on design type thinking with explanations, examples, anecdotes, and “homework”.
Everything Happens for a Reason: Finding the True Meaning of Events in Our Lives by Mira Kirshenbaum
According to Mira Kirshenbaum’s research and observations, the events in our lives fall into at least one of the categories of meanings. The categories are:
~to help you feel at home in the world;
~to help you totally accept yourself;
~to show you that you can let go of fear;
~to bring you to the place where you can feel forgiveness;
~to help you uncover your true hidden talent;
~to give you what you need to find true love;
~to help you become stronger;
~to help you discover the play in life;
~to show you how to live with a sense of mission;
~and to help you become truly a good person.
In the book, she explains each of the categories and includes examples and anecdotes. This can be helpful in making sense of something that may have happened years ago and is still negatively impacting your life. It can help you find, understand, and accept the gift. Then it can help you let it go so you can move closer to a life full of meaning—your dream life.
The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters by Emily Esfahani Smith
In this book, Emily Esfahani Smith includes examples and anecdotes, but she also adds some of the current research on meaning, what it is, and how to go about adding meaning to your life. Don’t let the fact that it does contain the results of research deter you from picking up this book! The author has a very engaging style and a talent for making the information easily understandable.
She distinguishes between a life aim of being happy versus a life aim of having your life matter. Aiming for happiness can lead to striving for ease and a life with few problems and challenges. There’s nothing wrong with this, however, it probably won’t satisfy that deeper *something* that you may be longing for or craving. This is because your focus is primarily on yourself and your life, and looking to the outside for help and solutions.
Emily Esfahani Smith states that a life of meaning—a life that matters—on the other hand will usually NOT be easy and most likely will present you with MORE challenges, obstacles, and problems. This is because your focus will be on how you—with your talents, your skills, your knowledge, your know-how, your abilities, your uniqueness—can contribute to the greater whole of the world—even if it’s “only” in your tiny community or neighborhood. Your focus is on something much larger than yourself, and you’re looking within for the help and solutions—reaching deep within yourself to uncover and discover the gold and treasures within to then share with others.
She also makes other distinctions—perhaps they’re better called definitions—such as what Purpose means and how it doesn’t have to be a Big Thing like solving world hunger.
In my opinion, all of these books bring excellent thoughts to the topic of creating a meaningful life. I recommend that you at least take a look at them. Feel free to let me know what you think of them.
I am still in the process of digesting all the good stuff in these books. I’ll definitely get back to you with other nuggets and tips that I glean from them!
Do you have some resources that you use? Feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
PLEASE NOTE: The links to these books on Amazon.com are NOT affiliate links. I do NOT make any money on whether or not you click on the link and I do NOT make any money on whether or not you purchase any of these books.
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