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Eat Pray Love is a movie that shows real life story of Elizabeth Gilbert, a young woman of 32 years old. She has made several achievements in her life since she married a loving husband, has a wonderful house and a satisfying career as a writer. Although she has a good family, she finds herself lost in the quest of experiencing real meaning of marriage and family because at some point she cries and yearn for something mysterious, something she cannot tell or define.
In search of the true meaning of life, Elizabeth painfully divorces her husband and starts her journey to explore the world. She first visits Italy where she has pleasure in eating, she then proceeds to India where she uses her time praying and meditating and finally she goes to Indonesia where she finds her true love (Murphy Para. 1). Elizabeth Gilbert’s experiences in the Eat Pray Love movie, relates strongly to the Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs as explored in this work.
Elizabeth Gilbert Experiences
Based on the Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs, Elizabeth has already surpassed the physiological needs, security needs and social needs. In the physiological needs, she has a good house, enough food and sex since she is married. She has also satisfied her security needs because she has a successful career as a writer.
In the case of her social needs, she is married and a wonderful family where her needs of love, belonging and affection are satisfied. Elizabeth is struggling in her marriage to satisfy her esteem needs, which is the fourth hierarchy needs according to Maslow. She feels lost, confused and unsatisfied in her marriage for her esteem needs such as self-esteem, sense of accomplishment and personal worth are unsatisfied. In pursuit of her needs, she divorces her husband and embarks on a journey, searching to fulfill her needs.
Due to stress and depression resulting from painful divorce, Elizabeth first visits Italy where she derives enough pleasure in eating and drinking to relieve herself from the ordeal of divorce. After recovering from the divorce ordeal, she focuses on attaining the esteem needs by indulging in pleasure, which makes her happy and confident that she has gained self-esteem, social acceptance and sense of accomplishment.
Fernando explains that, “the four lower levels are grouped together as deficiency needs associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs” (15). The deficiency needs are necessary for a better life while growth needs are responsible for shaping behavior. Elizabeth achieves her physiological needs whilst in Italy and continues with her journey into India in search of further fulfillment of psychological needs as she intends to change her life.
Elizabeth leaves Italy a happy woman for fulfilling her achievements in pleasure and goes to India where she practices prayer and meditation in order to satisfy her spiritual needs as one of the psychological needs in the Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs.
According to Hawks, there are two dimensions of spirituality, “Internal spiritual health seems to provide the individual with life purpose and ultimate meaning, while external spiritual health enables individuals express themselves through trust, honesty, integrity, altruism, compassion, and service” (3). In India, the experiences of prayer and meditation with the ashram guru enables Elizabeth to attain the purpose and ultimate meaning in life, which she has been looking for around the world.
“Self-esteem occurs when the individual lives in close harmony with the value system that results from a strong sense of faith and spirituality” (Hawks 8). Prayer and meditation enables Elizabeth to enhance her self-esteem, which pushed her to divorce her husband. With the great confidence and true meaning of life, she ends up in Indonesia for further exploration and satisfaction of her needs.
The experiences of marriage, pleasure in Italy, prayer and meditation in Indonesia makes Elizabeth see the reality of her needs. She has been yearning to satisfy her esteem needs and self-actualization without considering the social needs of the marriage and family. She wanted to satisfy her needs contrary to the Maslow principle that the lowest needs are first satisfied to the fullest for other subsequent needs to follow.
At last, the Maslow theories proves to her that she must first get married if she want to still pursue her dream in life and attain self-actualization. “A search for the actualization of fundamental identity with the cosmos, human motivation, at its highest and deepest, is a reaching out for the ultimate of truth, beauty, goodness, justice, and the like” (Fernando 19). Ultimately, Elizabeth gets in another marriage after finding true love in a relationship with a Brazilian.
The Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs shows sequential fulfillment of the human needs in five stages. The Eat Pray Love movie shows the experiences of Elizabeth in pursuit of the human needs contrary to the Maslow’s theory. She neglects the social needs but wants to pursue esteem and actualization needs leading to divorce. After having pleasure in Italy and praying in India, she realizes the true meaning of life and decides to get married again in order to fulfill the social needs she had neglected earlier.
Eat Pray Love. Dir. Ryan Murphy. Colombia Pictures, 2010. Film.
Fernando, Mario. “Abraham Maslow and Spirituality.” University of Victoria Journal 6.3 (2005): 15-21. Print.
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Hawks, Steven. “Spiritual Health: Definition and Theory.” Wellness Perspectives 10.4 (2008): 1-12. Print.