What Makes Life Meaningful?
Human life is a short run given to a person, and one must do as much as possible to live his or her life with sense. However, there is no universal pattern of a meaningful life, so each person may choose the way of leading one, according to the needs and goals she/he puts as the priority. There are things in life that are necessary, and those which are important.
According to Abraham Maslow’s theory (Boeree, C. George 2006), there are five stages of humans’ needs that build his famous pyramid of the needs hierarchy. There are physiological needs at the bottom of the pyramid; they grow into the safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs on the top of the pyramid. The first two stages are the same as in the animal world, so they are necessary for each human being. Life is impossible without air, food, water, sleep, and other physiological needs, as well as it is necessary for every human being’s normal functioning not to live in dangerous circumstances.
The next three points are important to make a person’s individuality and give sense to his/her life. Social needs predict that one makes a family, friends and has healthy relationships with others. Esteem needs are based on self-respect and respect by others, confidence, independence, achievements, etc. Self-actualization is a top point. Maslow had his own opinion about this notion; he thought that one cannot fulfill this stage having other stages unsatisfied so that a very small percentage of people fulfill their motivation based on the self-actualization needs.
One may argue Maslow’s theory, while history knows many examples, such as Van Gogh’s lifestyle, which demonstrates the absence of satisfaction of lower needs and total fulfilling of the self-actualization needs. Such a pattern cannot bring a person to happiness in all the aspects of this notion, because the lower needs mean nothing in the life of a person (Warhol, A., 7), but it reveals that everyone chooses the most meaningful stage for himself. If one is hungry or thirsty, she/he may still be happy feeling love or inspiration, and one chooses whether to reject his higher needs in a benefit to the lower ones. Other people put their family and friends on top. It does not mean that they are defective, because they do not have higher motifs, but they made their choice in life.
In addition, the choice and attitude, which provide a single person’s happiness, make life meaningful. People choose the most important aspect of their life and no one has a right to judge them. However, if they stop on the lowest stage, their life may seem out of sense, but only at the point of the interest’s conflict.
For instance, a thoughtless good food and sleep are the only things that make a person happy, as it was demonstrated in the George Lucas’s movie “THX-1138” (1971), where the society forgot how to feel, but some of them enjoyed such a lifestyle. Another person may not understand such an approach to life, while she/he finds sense in the freedom, independence and confidence, so they move up and develop themselves, as the citizen THX-1138 did. Some people stop on social relations, develop their families, become loving parents and reliable friends, such as Woody Allen’s parents in the “Radio Days” (1987). Other people may have no family and be unhappy in their relationships, but they have a higher goal and move to achieve it.
To conclude, the most meaningful thing in life is happiness and satisfaction of the goal chosen by a person as the most important. It is complicated to choose only one way. It is important not to make a mistake and not to regret if something goes wrong, but to have a position, in which one feels confident, eager to develop and grow as a personality to fulfill all the mentioned stages as much as possible.
To complete the research, three main sources were used: the book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” (Warhol, A., 1975), Woody Allen’s film “Radio Days” (1987), and George Lucas’s film “THX-1138” (1971). The paper is based on Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs. Each piece reveals different ideas, which influence the worldview and bring in the understanding of meaningful life.
Warhol, Andy. The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again). New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975. 241. Print.
“The Philosophy of Andy Warhol” is a great gathering of aphorisms and thoughts about life, death, relationships, creativity, beauty, sex, time, etc. The most interesting thing about this book is chapter 7, which consists of statements about time. This chapter makes readers think of their senseless regrets, past experiences, mistakes, which they carry through the present and past without any need. People spend time on unimportant things, people and thoughts, while time is the most valuable thing in life. In addition, Andy Warhol emphasizes the point of attitude to life. One may feel happy only when she/he wants to feel happy and listens to the inner voice.
Andy Warhol’s work is valuable because it consists of different ideas on specific topics that matter to everyone. These ideas are not trivial, but they reveal the worldview of a thinking and confident person that lives in the epoch of postmodernism. His thoughts are philosophical, sometimes controversial, but they are only hints to the reader’s thoughts, so that one may develop any statement into research. Here, it helped in supporting the statement about choosing a position, where one feels comfortable with and growing, as Andy said, that one should not spend time on the things and people, who bring one down (Warhol, A., 7).
Allen, Woody, dir. Radio Days. Orion Pictures, 1987. Film.
Woody Allen’s film “Radio Days” is a nostalgic autobiographical story, which demonstrates a naive childish attitude to life in the discourse of flourishing radio epoch. It teaches how to feel happy about little things that make up our life, such as music, fun, and adventures. It shows that they really make sense and it is important to notice them feel satisfied with life. The value of this film is the understanding that a person is his/her memories, feelings and position as well. Woody’s mother felt happy about their love and family, even though they would never bring their higher goals to life. They have a dream, but reality makes them happy. For the research, Allen’s film supports the statement that the choice is the most important thing and everyone is free in their choices. In addition, the example of the happy family life is a counter-argument to the thought, that the self-actualization is more important than self-devoting to the social motifs.
Lucas, George, dir., THX-1138. Warner Bros. Pictures, American Zoetrope, 1971. Film
George Lucas’ film “THX-1138” is the most complicated and thrilling. It influenced the research most of all. The story is about the citizen, who chose to fight and rebel against the system. This film reveals the deepest sense of humanity – the freedom, independence, and conscious life, as the highest values. The anti-utopian form is the closest to contemporary consciousness, as it refers to the future and sounds like a warning.
In addition, the film makes viewers realize that the only power in the world, which makes a human being different from animals is love, because it bares other needs, such as spiritual growth and freedom, and it gives the strength to men to fight for these values. The research used this film as a background idea that real happiness is impossible if only lower needs are satisfied. The real happiness is searching and struggling for one.
To conclude, all the material has influenced the research supporting the ideas (in the case of Andy Warhol and George Lucas) or building counter-arguments (in the case of Woody Allen). The films and the book deepened the worldview and may help one in the formulation of thoughts and ideas. The most influential and impressing is the film “THX-1138”, as it is revealed urgent contemporary problems of globalization.