Emily Esfahani Smith is the author of a new book, “The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matter.” She joined Ben Domenech in studio to discuss the psychology and philosophy of happiness, purpose, and why so many working Americans feel alone or left behind.

“One of the indicators of this meaning crisis that I write about is the rising rate of social isolation and loneliness,” she said. “People list their relationships to others as the most powerful builders of meaning in their lives.”

As American communities fall apart, the rates of suicide, drug-use, and depression continue to rise. “When other people treat you like you matter, then you feel like your life matters too,” Smith said. “But if you have no institutions in society that are reinforcing you or giving you a role to play, then you start to wonder, ‘What value does my life have?'”