The Little Book on Meaning by Laura Berman Fortgang

Laura Berman Fortgang started life wanting to be a musical theater actress and spent most of her young adult life pursuing that goal while suffering from debilitating depression.  Forced to question her purpose in life and to seek out what truly made her happy, she discovered work as a life coach and became a pioneer in the field. She furthered her growth and education by going on to be ordained as an interfaith minister, despite being in raised in the Jewish faith. In The Little Book on Meaning, Fortgang shares her meditations and explorations on the components of a meaningful life and details the little ways that we can create and find joy in a more meaningful existence.

After the introduction, Fortgang breaks the book down into a series of exploration of 5 “M” topics; mystery, ministry, magnificence, mind and mystic. There is a an introduction at the beginning of each section followed by a brief prayer asking for guidance on the topic. Each section is comprised of several chapter further  illumining the particular subject.

This was a lovely book to read and ponder, and one whose passages  I would definitely like to refer back to and examine further. There were a lot of moments which resonated with me that I had considered in my own musings on life. It’s always nice to see validation of your thoughts and experiences in other people’s work (they provide those a-ha! moments), and I really liked the way that Laura was so forthcoming about her own struggles with depression, meditation and finding deeper and more meaningful exchanges with the people in her life.

Her frank discussion of the variety of different faiths and their practices which have informed her studies were fascinating as well, and I got to know a little bit more about other religions. My favorite parts of the book were when she discussed relationships and how listening can be a transformative experience in relating to other people. She makes the point that often times we try to enhance or force a connection through talking, but sometimes silence does the job just as well. I think listening and hearing people is so important, and I don’t think we do it nearly enough.  The details from her own life to illustrate the key points were the best parts.

It’s hard to write a comprehensive review of this book, even though it is a “little” one. There is a lot of good stuff about life in general that is touched upon, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about other faiths, understanding and improving personal relationships and considering the meaning of life. This book enhanced a lot of my knowledge and understanding on the types of relationships that we have we have with different people, ourselves and the goals that we set so much stock by as a society and culture. Fortgang  shows by example how she was able to grow and develop a more meaningful life, and we can each take as much or as little as we need from what she shares. Highly Recommended.

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