March 25, 2005
Excerpts: A Whole New Mind: Meaning Portfolio
Take the 20-10 Test
I heard this exercise from Jim Collins, author of the blockbuster book Good to Great. He encourages people to look at their lives--in particular, their work--and ask themselves whether they would still do what they're doing now if they had twenty million dollars in the bank or knew they had no more than 10 years to live. For instance, if you inherted $20 million dollars, no strings attached, would you spend your days the way you spend them now? If you knew you had at the most ten years to live, would still with your current job? If the answer is no, that ought you tell you something. This test alone obviously can't determine your life course. But the approach is smart--and the answers will be clarifying.
Read These Books
Recommending Books about Meaning is difficult. Much of the world's great literature and religious texts tackle the topic of what Meaning is and how to find it. So the following book recommendations don't trump great novels or sacred texts. Read the Sermon on the Mount, sections of Torah, and parts of the Koran, too, if you'd like. But for more secular, contemporary, and prescriptive guides to Meaning, consider any of these fine books.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl--Simply one of the most important books you'll ever read.
Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman--It astonishes me that more people haven't read this book and absorbed its lessons. It's a perfect introduction to positive psychology and contains all sorts of exercises to help you put the findings into action in your own life. Also visit the accompanying Web site.
Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi--"Flow", when you're absorbed and enthralled in an activity that your sense of time and place, is an important component of Meaning. This book is your guide.
[There are a few other recommedations in the book -t.s.]