A Wonderful Life: Insights on Finding a Meaningful Existence

Reading material

Full English manuscript

Original title: A Wonderful Life: Insights on Finding a Meaningful Existence

Published: 2020 Spring

Publisher: HarperCollins/Harper Design

Class/genre: Non-Fiction

Pages: 200

Meaning in Life Explained. Why Happiness is Not Enough for a Life Worth Living

Would you like to know what the meaning of your life is? In this secular era when old truths have lost their grip, more and more of us are yearning to know how our brief lives on earth could be made truly worth living. Yet a satisfactory answer has been hidden in esoteric philosophical papers and scattered psychological research. Until now.

In this engagingly insightful book, Frank Martela – one of the only academic experts who has contributed to both the philosophical and psychological research on meaning in life – takes you on a voyage through the history, philosophy, and psychology of meaningfulness and worthy living. The journey starts in the 19th century, where it is revealed why and how the Scottish author Thomas Carlyle came to be the first person in history who actually used the phrase »meaning of life.» The life stories of Carlyle and Russian author Leo Tolstoy serve as representative examples of the transformation that this book aims to guide you, the reader, through. Finally, an answer is provided to the question of meaning that is compatible with latest scientific knowledge about human nature, yet still both inspiring and actionable.

Rights sold:

WORLD ENGLISH: HarperCollins/Harper Design (orig.)

CROATIA: Planetopija
ESTONIA: Rahva Raamat
FINLAND: Gummerus
FRANCE: Editions Leduc.s
GERMANY: Blessing Verlag
GREECE: Klidarithmos
ITALY: Edizioni Lindau
JAPAN: HarperCollins Japan
KOREA: Across Publishing
LATIN AMERICA: Ediciones Urano
LATVIA: Zvaigzne
NORWAY: Gursli Berg Forlag
POLAND: Czarna Owca
PORTUGAL: Editora 2020
ROMANIA: Editura Humanitas
RUSSIA: Bombora
SERBIA: Odiseja
SPAIN: Ediciones Urano (World Spanish)
TURKEY: Orman Kitap

Reading material:
Full English pdf

”It is a book that doesn’t fill us with illusions but offers us an intelligent and concrete contribution for making our lives more meaningful. Finally, a book that helps us understand how to live better and how to achieve that sense of fullness and realization that makes every single day a new exciting adventure.”

– Davide Platzer Ferrero, Edizioni Lindau, Italy

”Four sources of meaning. Easy and understandable. The quickest path to a meaningful life is through A WONDERFUL LIFE.”

–  Meldra Abolina, Foreign Rights Project Manager, Zvaigzne, Latvia

”Frank Martela’s book A WONDERFUL LIFE is a real gem. Odiseja is proud to be the publisher for the Serbian language edition. The book is just profound enough to make each of us reconsider the meaning of our own lives, what really matters  and what makes us happy. We expect the book to inspire readers to think about what is important in their lives at a time of general identity and existential crisis that has gripped the world. The book is written in such a way that everyone can understand it and find answers to the questions imposed on everyone – why we always long for something else beyond this moment and why we are so often dissatisfied with our place and position in life.”
– Vesna Kapuran, Odiseja Publishing House, Serbia

”Live your life not as a project, but as a story. Frank Martela showed us how to seek meaning of life, we believe our readers will live life as a story with his outstanding book.”
-Dale Hung, Rights Manager at Ping’s Publications, Ltd.

What is the meaning in life? That is e a universal question that everyone has considered once at least. Obviously, Japan is no exception. And this title digs into the theme deeply and is very readable. We are really happy to bring this title to the Japanese readers.
– Risa Matsushita, Editor, HarperCollins Japan

“Harper Design is pleased to be publishing this very special book.  Its offer of hope and how to achieve a life that is truly worth living is the right message for the right time. “
– Marta Schooler, Publisher, Harper Design

”What is the meaning of life? Of course it is audacious for a young philosopher to shed light on such a big and complicated philosophical question. But Frank Martela is brave enough to do just that in his new book. I’m proud to be his Dutch publisher.”
– Laurens Ubbink, Publisher non-fiction, Ambo Anthos

“Despite the short proposal, it was good enough to persuade me to take. The stories that are well mixed with various categories such as literature, philosophy, and human science would easily appeal to our readers. I would call it, one of greatest hybrid contents!”
– Mr. Hyeongbo Kim, CEO of Across

”Read this book. Slowly. Take your time. Let it unwind and resonate within you. That’s how the meaning of your life will show itself to you. It’s a really well-written read.
– Dea Oidekivi, Publisher, Rahva Raamat AS, Estonia


Frank Martela has been a wonderful, insightful and humorous contributor to fulfillmentdaily.com with a unique perspective on the science of happiness. I have no doubt that his book will be fascinating and entertaining.
Emma Seppälä, PhD, Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, author of The Happiness Track (HarperOne, 2016)

I really liked Frank Martela’s book. It was profound, but not too much. It made me think and question my own life. It made me think about what I want to do from now on – what things are really relevant to me and at what moments I experience feelings of relevance. It made me miss my loved ones.
– Lily.fi Destination Happyness blog


The book is definitely worth reading, and its message is very important right now. It intoduces good questions, and provides the tools to make your own life as meaningful as possible every single day.

– Terve.fi Inspirations blog

The book is a great introspection into finding what truly matters to you. I started reading it just before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and am now writing this after a month of the world in a tumble dryer. In these extraordinary times, I find it comforting to be able to understand myself – and all of humanity – and what actually matters. Hence, in these times, the title of this book could be ”Science-backed multidisciplinary guide to being successful (according to metrics set by YOU)”.

I hope all leaders in these times of economical crisis would read this book and find guidance to policy-making from within themselves, using the book as a tool for reflection.
– Amazon.com five-star review by Joonas Kiminki

The book can best be summed up in this quote by Alan W. Watts and the suggestion of Martela in the end of the book:

“We thought of life by an analogy—as a journey or a pilgrimage—which has a serious purpose at the end. The thing was to get to that end, success, or whatever it is, or maybe Heaven after you are dead, but we missed the point along the whole way. It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or dance while the music was being played.”

One day the music will stop. What happens afterward no one knows. But there’s no point in waiting for the silence. If you’re reading this, then the music is still playing for you. So go out and dance.

– Goodreads.com review by Mervi Rauhala


Frank Martela on Salon.com: Exercise, eat well, help others: Altruism’s surprisingly strong health impact

Frank Martela on Scientific American Mind: Finland Is the Happiest Country in the World, and Finns Aren’t Happy about It

Frank Martela was interviewed by Psychology Today: What Sisu Can Teach Us About Well-Being

Frank Martela cited on BBC: Why the Finns don’t want to be happy

Frank Martela cited on Quarz: Finland’s rank as the world’s happiest country is very upsetting in Finland

Frank Martela

Frank Martela, PhD, is a philosopher and researcher of psychology specializing in the question of meaning in life. His articles have appeared in Scientific American Mind, Harvard Business Review and Salon and his work has been featured on Quartz and on the BBC. His research has been published extensively in numerous academic journals such as Journal of Personality, Journal of Positive Psychology, Journal of Happiness Studies, Metaphilosophy, Southern Journal of Philosophy, Review of General Psychology, and Organization Studies. He has spoken to more than one hundred audiences worldwide, including invited lectures in universities on four continents, including Stanford University and Harvard University. He’s been interviewed by the New York Times, Fitness, Vice News, and Monocle Observer among others. He is based at Aalto University in Helsinki.

Outside of work, Frank is a father to three lovely children (currently 8, 5, and 3 years old), an amateur-level soccer player, with an occasional skiing trip in the winters. He is made in Green Bay, so Packers holds a special place in his heart.


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