Don’t Work, Find Meaning

Emily Esfahani SmithThe pursuit of happiness can be detrimental to our health, argues Emily Esfahani Smith, Share on X author of The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed With Happiness. Ms. Smith argues that an obsession with happiness is responsible for the uptick in conditions such as anxiety, depression and loneliness.

She suggests a different target: whatever gives us meaning. But to create authentic meaning, Ms. Smith said people need to build their lives atop four pillars:

1. Belonging: Being in relationships where you’re valued for who you are intrinsically and where you value others, as well.

2. Purpose: Using your strengths to serve others.

3. Transcendence: Moments when you’re lifted above the hustle and bustle of daily life and you feel connected to a higher reality.

4. Storytelling: The narrative of your life that explains how you became you.

Origin Stories

how i built this podcast“To be clear, there is no reason that we should have succeeded.” These words, from Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, is the kind of blunt talk listeners have come to expect from NPR’s How I Built This podcast. Hosted by Guy Raz, the podcast delves into the biggest brands, including Starbucks, Zappos, BET, Warby Parker, Rent the Runway and Virgin. Each episode is filled with insights and bracing honesty about the challenges, near misses and lucky breaks entrepreneurs experience.

Take Instagram. The idea born out of another idea and perfected on a beach in Mexico was not an immediate success. Instead, the company grappled with server slowdowns and website outages, Mr. Systrom and Mr. Krieger said. “There was nothing more crushing than seeing someone post to Twitter [about Instagram], ‘Oh another startup that doesn’t know how to scale.’”

These stories about how a spark becomes a business leave listeners looking for their next big idea.


This Is Your Life: Ready to Assist

Work-life balance is not achieved by getting everything done yourself. It takes knowing when to saying “no” to an extra task—and this does not only apply to the work side of the equation. You have to step back from to-dos in your personal life, too. Here are three services that can take mundane duties off your plate so you can turn your attention to things that matter more.


hello alfredHello Alfred: Think of this as your on-demand majordomo. Handpicked Alfred home managers will do your laundry, run your errands, clean your house and basically manage your home on any given day they are needed.

But this is not Uber for servants, at least when it comes to labor practices, CEO and co-founder Marcela Sapone told Fast Company’s The Bottom Line podcast. Hello Alfred has only W-2 employees who make, on average, $25 per hour, according to Ms. Sapone. Employees also have health, vision and dental insurance, according to Fast Company.

Instacart: Need groceries but lack the time or desire to shop? This 6-year-old startup (currently valued at $3.4 billion), allows users to order groceries online. Orders can be delivered to homes in as little as just an hour.


time, etc.

Time etc.: This service provides users with an assistant to help with personal and organizational tasks, writing and research, marketing support, administrative work and more. To-do lists can include researching flights, finding a gift for a loved one, creating or updating your company’s social media presence, writing a press release and making telemarketing calls.

U.S.-based assistants are selected via a 10-step process designed by Sir Richard Branson’s former executive assistant. Each has at least five years of experience, including at companies ranging from Virgin to AOL to Apple.

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