?Oscar As a child, there were many things on my mind. Just as many others, I strove to become a rock star. This seemed unlikely and even silly to most, but to me it was set in stone. I was going to do anything and go through everything to make this become a reality. This was my purpose and everyday was one step closer to the dream. Without this driving force to motivate me, I would have been lost. Many people in today’s world lack this purpose or meaning in their life and it leaves them feeling void.
When people claim that their life is meaningless, it is more often than not a result of nothing to look forward to, a feeling of no options and a lack of impact they have on the world. Since the dawn of time, man has pondered the question of the meaning of life, but if we do not know what this is, are all our lives meaningless? It is these kinds of questions that have lead many to suffer from this void. A feeling of purposelessness can be caused by a variety of things including an excess of ‘Big Picture’ thinking, which can lead to people viewing their actions as insignificant.
Also, a lack of motivation can bring about a boring rut in your life. The same routine everyday, dragging on until we pass away. Since we have not found out the universal meaning of human life, we must look at meaning for the individual. There are countless philosophers who devoted much of their life to solving this problem. Three of the more well know philosophers are Paley, Nietzsche and Tolstoy. Although the three claim to have discovered the meaning of life, they all have differing theories. Paley takes the stance that only a few key things need to be in place for one to have a sense meaning in life.
It is simple, “private happiness is our motive, and the will of God our rule”(Stewart 55). You must, first and foremost, follow the will of God and live for him. But, in addition to that, you must also live for yourself and not change in accordance to others opinions. Only once you truly be yourself and worship the lord, will you find meaning in life. Nietzsche has a similar solution to life’s greatest problem. He also believes that you must do what you want and live an authentic life, but that is where the similarities end.
He takes this idea one step further and says that it is because we are living life with a slave’s mentality, that we feel meaninglessness. We must break free from this and live as individuals. What is needed is to stop viewing “suffering and hardship as bad, for suffering may be good if it leads to great accomplishments”(Stewart 59). This idea is what he refers to as the noble mentality. Nietzsche believes that we have to break free from our ‘slavery’ and stop letting people tell us who we are. That is for the individual to discover. Lastly, we come to Tolstoy, with the seemingly most simple solution.
He suffered towards the end of his life because he had wondered “what life can mean when death is the only certainty”(Stewart 64). After all his years studying philosophy, the only thing he could rely on happening, was dying. This took a serious toll on him and he came very close to ending his life. He looked toward God for meaning, but he could not come to terms with the existence of a Deity. After years of misery, he had finally found the answer. In order to find purpose in life, one must make a leap of faith and simply change their outlook.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but Tolstoy did end up achieving this. He realized that you just have to choose to see life differently, and choose to have meaning in life, and it will all work out. In the film “Joe vs. The Volcano” we see many parallels between these three individuals and the plot. When looking at the life of the main character Joe, we see that Tolstoy’s solution is applied in the end. Joe is dying of a ‘Brain Cloud’ he was diagnosed with, and he is trying to find the purpose that he had lost in life.
Through thick and thin, he strove to find a purpose, with no success. In the beginning of the film he is told he is a hypochondriac, which is the belief that you have an illness, but in reality it only exists in your mind. This is an early hint towards the power of perception. Only towards the end of the film does he begin to realize this though. While stranded on his floating luggage, Joe looks into the sky, getting close to giving up, and he notices something. He has never noticed the constellations in the sky before, yet they had always been there.
This was his golden moment when he realized that he had the power to change how he looked at things. Although religion is the world’s most popular way to find meaning in life, it is certainly not necessary. Both Nietzsche and Tolstoy were non-believers, despite Tolstoy’s long struggle to find God, and yet both found their own path toward meaning. After looking at all three of these theories it should be evident that purpose in life is based heavily on the individual. So never lose confidence in yourself, just keep being you.