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A practical guide to one of the greatest questions we will ever face.

To wonder too openly or intensely about the meaning of life can seem a peculiar, ill-fated and faintly ridiculous pastime. It can seem like a topic on which ordinary mortals cannot make much progress. In truth, it is for all of us to wonder about, define and work towards a more meaningful existence.

This book considers a range of options for where the meaning of life is to be found, including love, family, friendship, work, self-knowledge and nature. We learn why certain things feel meaningful while others don't, and consider how we might introduce more meaning into our activities. What follows is a hugely thought-provoking as well as a practical guide to one of the greatest questions we will ever face.

Chapters Include:

  • Sources of Meaning
  1. Love
  2. Family
  3. Work
  4. Friendship
  5. Culture 
  6. Politics
  7. Nature
  8. Philosophy
  • Obstacles to Meaning
  1. Vague self-understanding
  2. Provincialism
  3. Selflessness
  4. Immortality
  5. The art of storytelling

Extracts from the Book:

On Meaningful Work

"We are taught by economics to think for ourselves as, for the most part, selfish creatures. It can seem as if what we primarily want from work is money. What is far more striking is the extent to which we require work to be - as we put it - 'meaningful'. A job can pay well and offer immense prestige, but, unless is it meaningful, it may eventually stifle us and crush our spirits."

On Meaning from Family

"One of the things that makes families so important and so meaningful is that they are centers of unashamed nepotism. We are used to thinking negatively of nepotism. We are taught that a good society is one in which people rise and fall according to their own merits or flaws, and do not gain unfair favour from their families. But, in a crucial emotional sense at least, most of us don't actually believe this. We are all, more or less, emotional nepotists."

On Meaning from Friendship

" Friendship should be an important center of meaning, and yet it is also a routinely disappointing reality. The key to the problem of friendship is found in an odd-sounding place: we lack a sense of purpose. Our attempts at friendship tend to go adrift because we collectively resist the task of developing a clear picture of what friendship should really be for."


Hardback book | 135 pp | 169 x 129 mm | Ribbon Marker | Colour Images