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The Power of Meaning

by | Dec 23, 2021 | All | 0 comments

Throughout the project lifecycle, the CommUnity Project Consortium acknowledged the importance and weight of youth identity-building, a red thread of storytelling, and the significance of ‘meaning’ within different project activities and the creation of the various creative communities. ‘Meaning’ as defined by sociologist and author Emily Esfahani Smith consists of four pillars: belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling. It was realized that creative and artistic activities implemented throughout the CommUnity Project addressed all four pillars.


During the period of isolation and homeschooling, small communities of musicians and artists were created across Europe, where they had the opportunity to learn new creative and artistic skills, freedom to express themselves, and engage in peaceful dialogue in a welcoming and non-judgmental environment about topics important to European youth. The topics they worried about, hopeful for, surprised, and deeply valued or rejected reinforced a sense of ‘belonging’ for many young Europeans.


Furthermore, the stimulation of self-exploration, self-expression, and identity-building helped young people reflect on their purpose and the way they want to live their lives and construct the story they tell themselves about who they are. These are incredibly important in creating ‘purpose’ and ‘storytelling’ and contribute to giving meaning to life.


Finally, making music, immersing in photography, painting, watching movies, experimenting with graffiti and even videography gives young people the opportunity to temporarily ‘transcend’ oneself and break free from the ego. This opportunity helps people release their worries, gives them a positive sense of being ‘in the zone’, and contributes significantly to happiness and meaning. A study on ‘meaning’ by Esfahani Smith (2017) found that people who craft and live more meaningful lives are generally happier, do better at school and work, have a greater sense of self, are more motivated to achieve their goals and serve others, and are less likely to find meaning with radical groups.[1] It is exactly for this reason that the CommUnity Project Consortium strongly recommends considering the role of ‘meaning’ in future prevention of radicalisation projects.


[1] Esfahani Smith, E. (2017). The Power of Meaning: finding fulfillment in a world obsessed with happiness. Crown.

Want to know more about The Power of Meaning? Check out Emily Esfahani Smith’s Tedtalk here 👉

Or check out her book ‘The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters” 👉