Meaning of life – updated



I have now made a major update of this post adding more content about love, impossible relationships, the pillars of the meaning of life, and telling about my personal conclusion.

I have moved Palmo Jetsunmas video about Love   to

Mary Esfahani’s Ted is  about happiness and the four pillars of the meaning of life:


“There is more to life than being happy.”

  1. belonging
  2. purpose
  3. transcendence
  4. storytelling

Emily Esfahani Smith has made ambitious psychological research and she tells about these pillars and about her own experience.

Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there’s a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life — serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you — gives you something to hold onto. (source:  )

Emely Esfahani with her ted from 2017 has given me a lot of answers to the reason for my different life crises.  Every time one of my pillars broke down, I had a crisis. 



The four pillars

This section is based on the lecture of Emily Esfahani. See below.

  1. The first pillar is belonging.
    Belonging comes from being in relationships where you’re valued for who you are intrinsically and where you value others as well
    But some groups and relationships deliver a cheap form of belonging; you’re valued for what you believe, for who you hate, not for who you are
    True belonging springs from love. It lives in moments among individuals, and it’s a choice — you can choose to cultivate belonging with others.
  2. the second pillar: purpose.
    finding your purpose is not the same thing as finding that job that makes you happy.

    The purpose is less about what you want than about what you give.  That may be  healing sick people”.  or “raising your children.”
    The key to purpose is using your strengths to serve others.
    Of coursefor many of us, that happens through work. That’s how we contribute and feel needed. But that also means that issues like disengagement at work, unemployment, low labor force participation. these aren’t just economic problems, they’re existential ones, too.
    Without something worthwhile to do, people flounder. Of course, you don’t have to find purpose at work,
    but purpose gives you something to live for, some “why” that drives you forward.
  3. Third pillar: transcendence. Transcendent states are those rare moments when you’re lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life, your sense of self fades away, and you feel connected to a higher reality.
    For one person transcendence came from seeing art.
    For another person, it was at church or through writing, losing all sense of time and place.
    These transcendent experiences can change you.

    One study had students look up at 200-feet-tall eucalyptus trees for one minute. But afterward, they felt less self-centered, and they even behaved more generously when given the chance to help someone.
  4. The fourth pillar is storytelling, the story you tell yourself about yourself. Creating a narrative from the events of your life brings clarity. It helps you understand how you became you. But we don’t always realize that we’re the authors of our stories and can change the way we’re telling them. Your life isn’t just a list of events. You can edit, interpret, and retell your story, even as you’re constrained by the facts.
    The psychologist Dan McAdams calls this a “redemptive story,” where the bad is redeemed by the good.
    People leading meaningful lives, he’s found, tend to tell stories about their lives defined by redemption, growth, and love.
    reflecting on your life thoughtfully, how your defining experiences shaped you, what you lost, what you gained. That’s what Emeka did. You won’t change your story overnight; it could take years and be painful. After all, we’ve all suffered, and we all struggle.
    But embracing those painful memories can lead to new insights and wisdom, to finding that good that sustains you.

The pillars are part of the architecture, and the presence of the pillars help us all live more deeply.


Emily’s speech

You find the transcript of Emily’s speech in Ted’s site to have the speech translated in your language.


Below are selected Sentences in her speech that I considered especially important:

“chasing happiness can make people unhappy. “

psychologists define happiness as a state of comfort and ease, feeling good in the moment.

renowned psychologist Martin Seligman says

“meaning comes from belonging to
and serving something beyond yourself
and from developing the best within you.”

“seeking meaning is a more fulfilling path.”

“people who have meaning in life, they’re more resilient, they do better in school and at work, and they even live longer.”

“we can each create lives of meaning by building some or all of these pillars in our lives.”

“Happiness comes and goes.”

But when life is really good and when things are really bad, having meaning gives you something to hold on to.”



Having listened to Tenzin and Emily I have now come to a few conclusions.

  • I think it is interesting Emily grew up in a Sufi family. I have been in contact with Sufi people.

The story of my pillars

  • I had my first pillar of belonging, purpose, and transcendence as a teenager in Torino in Italy.  I wanted to become a surgeon like my German uncle and I had many good friends and I fell in love 14 years old. I had also several transcendent purposes writing poetry, skying, and diving. When I was 18 years old I  wanted to write a book about life and the Universe not knowing about my grandfather’s project. Carlo Sessa, an Italian friend to my family, said that it was impossible to write such a book as there was far to much information to have in a book. I abandoned, therefore, this idea.
  • When I was 19 years old, I loosed all my pillars, as my parents separated,  I had to leave Italy laving all my friends and go back to Sweden. I could not become a surgeon as I got a bad vote in Latin and Swedish.  I had my first crisis in life.
  • I found  however a pillar of transcendence and belonging joining a dance jazz group for a few years and getting in love again. 
    When I was thirty, a new belonging pillar grew up living with my wife and family with two children in a nice and friendly neighborhood. 
    Because the pillar of purpose in computer programming, in my work and with www. from 1995, took over much of relationship time I ended up in separation from my family and neighborhood. I had therefore my second crisis in life with panic anxiety. 
  • I recovered however and came back to work after 5 months.
  • The pillar of belonging to my colleagues  (I especially remember my good friend and colleague Stig Fjellman in my school and all good friend volunteers at www. became stronger and stronger. It took however  time for me to be valued for who I was as a teacher.
  • the purpose of my life came to be, becoming a better math teacher attending a lot of courses for teachers <nd   “Having my student to become good programmers and webmasters” writing HTML pages for the school and winning technique competitions.  I wanted to  “Make my students more interested in Math and Science” and getting better results in math. As a student coach, I wanted them ” to find a goal in life and with the school”.
  • After 10/11 my work purpose became to have my Muslim students and meself better understand the Quran hopefully as a message of peace, my students finding other goals in life than joining ISIS like one of our students did dying in Syria. 
  • the pillar of transcendence. Teaching about evolution and having many discussions about it with my Muslim students and a Persian colleague, I became more and more interested in Islam and Zoroastrism. I started to write about it in blogs.
  • The work became to stressful because of many colleagues leaving my school to work somewhere else. My pillar of belonging became dismantled and I had my third crisis in life with multiple strokes, mental fatigue, and a third separation.
  • I am now back to my teenager dream I abandoned 18 years old,  preparing for the book “The Creation of Man and Universe, 100 years later” in this site and in
  • I understand now that depending on the pillars of purpose and transcendence you risk dismantling the pillar of belonging as it happened to me several times.
  • Like my daughter reminded me about is that the meaning of purpose may hide a subconscious search for belonging and you may sometimes need collaboration to reach your purposes as I  did with my programming. 
  • The dismantling of pillars of meaning had me end up in crisis exactly as Emely tells about in her speech.

As a former teacher and now a president of a no-profit organization ( )   that leads school projects with the purpose to enhance a global dialog among youth,  I can not avoid thinking about our youth.

I think it is important for our youth to help them 

  1. avoid and get rid of phobias. as these causes stress
  2. develop cooperation
  3. get fulfilled within themselves
  4. understand the value of relationship and collaboration (the pillar of belonging and not let their pillars of purposes and transcendence dismantle their pillar of belonging.
  5. get free from previous  traumas that have been hidden in their subconscious (this is part of the Buddhist psychology.  )
  6. to not hunt happiness that won’t really make them happy
  7. To find at least one  pillar of the meaning of life
  8. where “meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you.”
  9. not feel alone and enter relationships as a free will and not as an escape from loneliness
  10. If they wish and want to spend time for it, look for sane  relationships without dependencies
  11. relationships with genuine love as Tenzin defines it,
  12. get relationships where  they are valued for who they are like Emily said in her speech

Another research about happiness came to the conclusion that belonging is the most important pillar to make you happy with one exception:

  • Good relationships keep us happier and healthier
  • social connections are really good for us, 
  • loneliness kills
  • it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters
  • High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health
  • The people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80
  • good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains
  • The people in our 75-year study who were the happiest in retirement were the people who had actively worked to replace workmates with new playmates.
  • The good life is built with good relationships

I like Michio Kaku’s view on purpose in life:

You have to discover meaning yourself. it is a process of self-discovery. Search in yourself. 

Another research about staying alive.

  • Social integration is the most important factor that help you have a long life. (Source: Ted )

.Learn more looking at this speech:



Notebook of a pluralist

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