(19) Research Paper: Meaning of Life


Paper Topic: Write a research paper that answers the question of the meaning of life. Refer to the attachment for details.

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Research Paper: Meaning of Life (Final Draft)

People of all ages share a universal yearning and need for meaning, significance, and hope in their lives that can lead to an overarching sense of purpose. Discovering and understanding our purpose provides us with a basis and a road map with clear directions for how we can live out life to the fullest. For each person, the meaning of life may vary and be slightly different. However, analysis of literature and experience enforces the view that placing the needs of others before ourselves, loving others, and developing relationships with those around us gives life meaning.

In the fantasy adventure novel Life of Pi, Yann Martel illustrates the importance of placing the needs of others before ourselves and explains how it gives life meaning. In the story, an Indian boy known as Pi discovers the importance and purpose of life after he survives a shipwreck in the Pacific Ocean and is left stranded on a lifeboat for two hundred and seventy-seven days before reaching the safety of shore. After witnessing his parents and only brother perish right before his eyes, Pi temporarily disconnects from the world. His will to live wanes as he loses sight of all that once held significance in his life. However, as weeks pass, Pi strikes up a tight companionship with his fellow passenger, a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Whenever the dangerous thoughts of giving up and the appeal of putting an end to his own suffering crosses his mind, Pi quickly dismisses them because he feels burdened with a newfound responsibility to care for and tend to Richard Parker’s needs. Pi’s struggle for survival was no longer a self-oriented battle for survival, but was instead fueled by his responsibility to answer to the needs of another who desperately depended on him. With his renewed approach to life, Pi experiences a surge of willpower and a refurbished desire to live. Pi was able to pick himself up and go on with life because he realizes that he matters to someone else. (Martel, 2001) Often in our lives, we find ourselves so absorbed by our own personal issues and problems that we completely shut out the needs of those around us. We neglect to listen to those who turn to us for help, and unknowingly slam the door in their faces. It is very important for us to learn how to deal with our own concerns, as well as keep an open ear to the problems of others at the same time. When we act to help others, we should not do so out of selfish intentions, but out of kindness and love, not expecting to receive anything in return. The rewarding feeling we receive when we see the positive impact of our deeds on the lives of others is well worth the effort that we put in. (Farino, 2012) Selfless actions are key building blocks that pave the way to happiness and contentment, and leads to a sense of meaning and fulfilment in life.

In the journal article On Pursuit of the Purpose of Life: The Shona Metaphysical Perspective, Munyaradzi Mawere explains that loving others is an innate virtue that gives life a sense of meaning and purpose. “For the Shona people the purpose of life on earth is one. It is ‘to love’ in order to make the world a better place to live.” (Mawere, 2010) There are many types of love that exist: the love that a mother has for her child, the love shared between a husband and a wife, and the love between friends.  Love is present everywhere around us. We are all aware of feeling different forms of love in many areas in our lives, and each type of love is characterized by its purpose or goal. When any love achieves its goal, joy is experienced. (Mawere, 2010) Love allows us to share our feelings and connect with others on a personal level. Even when we are going through the most challenging stages in our lives, the people who we love and hold dear gives us something to care about and a reason to find purpose in whatever we do. They have an aptitude to make every little thing in our lives seem valuable and worthwhile. Having a giant mansion all to ourselves might be fun and exciting for a week or two, but the house gets lonely after a while. On the other hand, having someone to share it with, and having their laughter and joy fill every room and hallway in the house gives life true meaning. The meaning of life can only be discovered and experienced when we share all that we have with those we love. Love highlights the importance of everything in our lives, helps us locate the tiny rays of goodness in dark times, and ultimately gives life meaning.

The interactions and relationships we have with those around us on a day-to-day basis gives life meaning. “Loving warm relationships are the meaning of life, and the main constituents of happiness and life satisfaction,” explains Anthony Synott in his magazine article The Meaning of Life. Relationships are built up over years of experience, and they add significant value to life. They are two-sided connections in which both sides of the relationship benefits. The relationships that we maintain with our friends and family are essential to our goal of achieving contentment in life. Relationships can last for a lifetime, and with them, we will never feel as if we are braving the storms of the world by ourselves. Family and friends will always be there to make us feel treasured and appreciated. A common misconception that many of us may have about relationships is that they should only be formed with people we like and enjoy having in our company. However, loving and showing affection to others should be unconditional and go far beyond simple family relations and casual friendship, and should be extended towards strangers and enemies as well. (Synnott, 2011) Loving those who love us back is easy, but showing love towards those who do not return the favor is the ultimate challenge. Even though it is very difficult for us to show love towards those who we don’t think deserve it, we must remember that living with hatred in our hearts is like having a thorn in our side that prevents us from appreciating what is truly important and meaningful in life.

Although many people are brought up with the ideal that they should love others and place the needs of others before themselves, some believe that it is better to address their own needs before concerning themselves with the needs of others. (Kight, 2004) However, living in a world where everyone displays love freely and lives selflessly for each other is far more meaningful than living in a world driven by self-interest and narcissism. When everyone displays love freely and lives selflessly for each other, we make the world a better place, a place that is worth living in. (Mawere, 2010)

In order for us to achieve and fully understand what gives life meaning, we must be willing to reorder our priorities to place the needs of others before ourselves, love others unconditionally, and develop close relationships with those around us. It is critical that we instill in ourselves a humble mindset and accept the philosophy that “we come second.” When we take this selfless approach to life, we are able to truly appreciate what life is really about and embrace the aspects that make life worth living. (Rovi, 2011)


Research Paper: Meaning of Life (References)

Farino, L. (2012). Do good, feel good: New research shows that helping others may be the key to happiness. Washington: MSN Health & Fitness.

Kight, K. (2004). 5 secrets to living a happy life. Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing.

Martel, Y. (2001). Life of pi. New York: Harcourt, Inc.

Mawere, M. (2010). On pursuit of the purpose of life: The Shona metaphysical perspective. Journal of Pan African Studies, 3(6), 269-273.

Rovi, J. (2011). Mind your business. New York City: Simon & Schuster

Synnott, A. (2011). The meaning of life. New York: Sussex Publishers.


Research Paper: Meaning of Life (Turnitin Results)

Similarity Index 3%
Internet Sources: 0%
Publications: 0%
Student Papers: 3%


Research Paper: Meaning of Life (Teacher Comment)

Mr. Nollan: You’ve done a good job with this topic, and you’ve explained the significance of your ideas a little more thoroughly than other papers I’ve read. Maybe the 196 words over the maximum helped you. 😉 Nice use of the counter argument. I think a mansion would get lonely after a bit. I find it interesting that you’ve written a paper that strongly supports a Christian world view using entirely non-Christian source material. Was that intentional? There are several places where you have small errors in mechanics, like pronoun/antecedent problems, or subject/verb disagreement.

Thesis Statement: 10/10
Three Support Statements: 5/5
Conclusion: 4/5
APA Formatting: 10/10
3 book references: 5/5
Additional references: 5/5
Counter arguments: 5/5
Works cited: 10/10
Ideas/Content: 9/10
Organization: 10/10
Word Choice: 5/5
Sentence Fluency: 5/5
Voice: 4/5
Mechanics: 4/5
Turnitin.com report: 5/5
Over Word Limit: -2


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