A rich and multilayered guide that offers readers accessible wisdom and practical methods to cultivate deeper satisfaction in everyday experiences. In contrast to stimulus-driven pleasure, contentment comes from living a life of meaning that aligns with one’s values. The author identifies the common traps people fall into looking for happiness that actually create stress, worries, and fears, and offers authentic mindfulness-based solutions to counteract them.

The increasing popularity of secular mindfulness in the United States mainstream has unfortunately produced a variety of teachings that water down and misunderstand this important skill and approach to living. Mindfulness is often reduced to concentration exercises and a simplistic definition of being aware of the present moment. In many of the secular presentations of mindfulness, it is taken out of the rich context of the Three Higher Trainings (ethics, concentration, and wisdom) of Buddhism in which it was originally taught. The unique feature of this book is that it maintains the substance of the entire teaching in which mindfulness is embedded and presents it with examples that are universal, practical and accessible. Though drawn from authentic Buddhist teachings, this book was written to benefit people of all spiritual traditions, as well as those with no spiritual tradition. This is truly a book for everyone!


“In The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life, John Bruna sheds clear light on the difference between hedonic pleasure and genuine well-being. While Albert Einstein compares the pursuit of the former to the ambitions of a pig, the Dalai Lama suggests the cultivation of the latter is the very meaning of life itself. On this basis, the author brings a rich ethical and transformative context to mindfulness meditation, couching it within the framework of a meaningful worldview, set of values, and way of life. I highly recommend this timely and insightful book.”

B. Alan Wallace, PhD
Buddhist teacher, scholar, and Director
of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies
Author of The Attention Revolution and Mind in the Balance

“The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life is an easy-to-digest guide on how to create the causes for bringing about genuine happiness and true contentment in life. The premise of John Bruna’s book is that all human beings face similar challenges in life, and we all strive for genuine happiness. John operationalizes what it means to be truly happy. He helps the reader learn how to approach choosing a meaningful set of values, laying a solid foundation, and setting one’s motivation to take action. Although there are hundreds of books and journal articles written about it, John describes mindfulness as a way of living, and breaks down its components in a meaningful way that we can all relate to. I highly recommend John’s book because it offers a complete package that any- and everyone can relate to regardless of your background, socioeconomic status, profession,ethnicity, race, religion, or gender.”

Seth Shaffer, PsyD
Founder/President of Harmony Through Education

“The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life is profound, inspiring, and transformational. With a personal biography as captivating and extraordinary as Eckhart Tolle’s, John Bruna shares his incredible personal story, as well as the profound practical wisdom he learned as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. He provides a road map to our inner world, along with many practical tools to bring greater peace and happiness into our lives in every day situations. Taking happiness to a higher level, Bruna shares that true fulfillment is not just about finding happiness and wisdom within ourselves, it includes taking action to helping others, thus multiplying the happiness of others as well as within ourselves.”

Khashyar Darvich, Producer-Director,
Dalai Lama Awakening (narrated by Harrison Ford)

“This book is an absolute treasure and a life changer. John Bruna has a gift for taking potentially complex and weighty material and presenting it in a manner that is both profound and engaging. As a therapist who is familiar with the topic, I found myself grasping it in new ways and at a deeper level than ever before. It holds timeless truths and the wisdom of an author who has true range and embodies the compassion he describes.”

Melissa Mose, MA, LMFT
Calabasas Counseling Center

“What a welcome offering John Bruna provides us in his new book. Bruna recasts traditional Buddhist teachings on mindfulness practice in contemporary and scientifically grounded new ways and goes beyond an emphasis on meditation practice alone to add his distinct and fresh perspective on the importance of ethical action. It is this skilled translation of mindfulness into right action that generates well-being, inner peace, and happiness. Most compellingly, Bruna illustrates his teaching with powerful examples from his own experience of transformation from addiction to freedom.”

Rev. David McCallum, SJ, EdD
Special Assistant to the President for Mission Integration
Le Moyne College

“The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life is a powerful meeting of ancient Buddhist teachings and humble stories of one man’s journey through a life of recovery and Buddhist practice. I have read and recommended many introductory books on mindfulness over the years, but this one will go to the top of my list of recommendations, for its clarity and honesty, and its emphasis on a whole and wise approach to one’s life.”

Zenshin Florence Caplow, Soto Zen priest and teacher
Unitarian Universalist minister, author of The Hidden Lamp:
Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women

“John Bruna is a masterful communicator who uses the day-to-day examples from his and our lives to invite us to consider ‘what is a meaningful life for us?’ Who better to be our guide in this exploration than a man who was once challenged by hardships in his own life? The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life is a practical guide for those trying to  understand what this mindfulness stuff is all about and what you might do to begin practicing it. He helps us to understand the foundations of mindfulness so we can begin to practice living meaningfully, no matter where the starting line is in our learning. ”

Mark Molony, MSW
Therapist, coach, and cofounder of the Mindful Life Program

“John Bruna’s kind, loving presence is infused in these pages where he shares many tools along with simply stated wisdom that guides us to a more meaningful life of contented happiness. From his years as a Buddhist monk and in recovery, John has gained the insight and clarity to offer deep wisdom in clear accessible language. He is a skilled communicator, committed in word and deed to helping others find the path to true freedom and transformational living. John is a natural storyteller and this book resonates with his big heart, authenticity, and humor.”

Peter Kuhn
Buddhist priest, ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh
Twelve-step Buddhist workshop, group, and
retreat facilitator, writer, and jazz musician

“Simply written and yet profound, The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life is a practical and accessible guide to cultivating a healthy mind. This book brings clarity to concepts that have been both overused and misused in popular literature. John Bruna’s work is enduring and brilliant!”

Rebecca A. Willow, EdD, LPC, NCC
Associate Professor, Gannon University
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program,
Department of Psychology and Counseling

“In all the buzz about mindfulness these days, it is deeply refreshing to find a book that sets the topic firmly within a context of values and wisdom, and thus closer to its Buddhist origins. Its pages are rich with practical insights that have been forged in the fires of Bruna’s own self-inquiry rather than plucked in the pleasant gardens of philosophy. Bruna delivers his message with friendly and encouraging clarity—that a meaningful life is not the result of lessons and guidelines dutifully applied, but the natural outcome of a life well-lived.”

Rebecca Novick
Author of Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism

“In this inspiring and practical book, John Bruna shows us how to truly build a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Bridging the gap between scientific and spiritual study, The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life goes far beyond the typical mindfulness primer and teaches us how to use these tools to completely transform our lives.”

Stefan Bate, MA, LAC
Executive Director, A New Path

“In The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life, John Bruna proclaims the simple, if not elusive, truth: You are the master of your own happiness. With skill, personal insight, and loads of practical wisdom he shows us how to stop waiting for outer circumstances to make us happy and empower ourselves to create truly fulfilling and meaningful lives.”

Chris Lemig
Tibetan Buddhist Monk
Author of The Narrow Way: A Memoir of Coming
Out, Getting Clean, and Finding Buddha

An Excerpt from The Wisdom of a Meaningful Life

“One of the most important realizations I have come to over the past thirty years—the core of the inspiration for this book—is that most people, given the opportunity to reflect, already know how to improve the quality of their lives.

When I taught high school, my students could easily make a list of five things they could do to improve their lives. Yet, despite being able to make such a list, most of those students (like the vast majority of people in this world) were unable to follow through and actually do the things they listed. I’m sure all of us can relate to this. We are all aware of some simple things we could do to improve the quality of our lives right now and, for some reason, we don’t do them.

Recognizing this dynamic challenged me to ask one of the most important questions of my life: What is it that prevents me from doing the things I know are healthy and beneficial? If I valued honesty, why did I lie? If I wanted to help people, why did I hurt them? If I wanted to be healthy, why did I do unhealthy things?

It turns out that I was not unique. The inability to answer these questions is a nearly universal problem, affecting almost all human beings. One of our biggest problems is that we rarely even ask ourselves where the resistance to being the person we want to be comes from? The biggest obstacle preventing us from being able to make healthy and productive changes in our own lives is not our circumstances, nor a lack of knowledge about what to do, it is our untrained mind. We have untrained minds that are conditioned by our experiences, habits, and tendencies and are constantly producing thoughts and emotions that draw our attention away from being present and able to make wise choices.”

Book Details

  • Publisher: Central Recovery Press (August 9, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1942094183
  • ISBN-13: 978-1942094180
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches

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