Emily Esfahani Smith on Building a Meaningful Life

Learn practical steps to build more meaningful connections, strengthen your purpose, and pursue a life that matters

Course Details

  • Price: $100 $45 
  • Availability: On Demand
  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Access: Unlimited

What You’ll Learn:

  • Turn everyday interactions into meaningful connections to build your sense of belonging and help others feel valued
  • Set a far-reaching goal that allows you to uniquely contribute to the world and then implement practical, daily steps to pursue that goal
  • Assemble your life experiences into a coherent narrative
  • Take practical steps to feel connected to something bigger than yourself on a daily basis
  • Build a culture of meaning in your workplace, organization, or home


There's more to life than being happy. People who lead the most meaningful lives have a far-reaching purpose. They forge relationships where they help themselves and others feel valued. They assemble their experiences into a coherent narrative. And they contribute to something bigger than themselves.

If this all sounds abstract, it doesn’t have to be. In this 3-hour, video-based course, Emily Esfahani Smith, the author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters will teach you concrete strategies for implementing elements of belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence into your everyday life in practical ways.

Drawing on the latest research in positive psychology, along with insights from philosophers across the ages, Emily Esfahani Smith will share strategies from real people and companies that have effectively built meaningful lives or established cultures of meaning. You’ll create a Meaningful Life Notebook where you can implement and record the results of the experiments you take to start pursuing a life that matters. In the process, you’ll deepen your own life, and start to figure out how you can help others in the process.

Format and Timing

  • Individual Course: This course is a series of videos and exercises you can work through on your own.
  • Platform: Udemy (+Acumen developed this course. We host this course on the Udemy platform.)
  • Timing: You can work through the materials at your own pace. There are no required times for you to log in. Your access does not end.

Course Syllabus

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Section 1: Introduction to Building a Meaningful Life
  • Video 1: Welcome to the Course
  • Video 2: Introduce Yourself to the Course Community
  • Video 3: What is Meaning?
  • Video 4: The Difference Between a Meaningful Life and a Happy Life
  • Video 5: The Crisis of meaning
  • Video 6: The 4 Pillars of Meaning
  • Exercise: Take the Quiz: What’s Your Pillar of Meaning?
Section 2: BELONGING: Pillar of Meaning #1
  • Video 8: What is Belonging?
  • Video 9: The Importance of High-Quality Connections
  • Video 10: How to Build Belonging in Your Own Life
  • Exercise: Build Your Sense of Belonging
Section 3: PURPOSE: Pillar of Meaning #2
  • Video 11: What is Purpose?
  • Video 12: How to Uncover Your Purpose
  • Video 13: A Practical Question to Find Purpose
  • Exercise: Small Purpose to Larger Purpose
  • Video 14: How to Find Your Purpose at Work
  • Exercise: Service Mindset
  • Exercise: Take the Via Character Strengths Finder
Section 4: STORYTELLING: Pillar of Meaning #3
  • Video 15: What is Storytelling?
  • Video 16: Redemptive Stories and Contamination Stories
  • Video 17: How Stories Shape Us
  • Video 18: How to Practice Storytelling
  • Exercise: Life Map
  • Exercise: Counter-Factual Thinking for Good
Section 5: TRANSCENDENCE: Pillar of Meaning #4
  • Video 19: What is Transcendence?
  • Video 20: How You Can Tap into Transcendence
  • Exercise: Micro-Ways to Become Part of Something Better
Section 6: Build a Culture of Meaning
  • Video 21: What are Cultures of Meaning
  • Video 22: How to Build a Culture of Meaning
  • Exercise: Tangible Traces of a Culture of Meaning
Section 7: Conclusion
  • Video 23: How to Foster a Meaning Mindset
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.


Supported By

Emily Esfahani Smith is the author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters. Her writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and TIME. She is an instructor in positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, a columnist for The New Criterion, and an editor at the Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

What People Are Saying

"Powerful! I'll be able to take everything I learned in this course back to my new company and create a culture of meaning that will have an incredible positive impact. Emily makes this multifacted subject very easy to understand and convert into daily/regular actions."