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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

What is Happiness? Maslow Hierarchy of Needs

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

One movie that I think was very fascinating is a movie called Happy, which is available on Netflix. It is documentary film directed, written, and co-produced by Academy Award nominated film-make Roko Belic. It discusses principles of happiness, particularly through the perspective of positive psychology, through a series of interviews of people from 14 different countries, with varying cultural, socioeconomic differences. This was created based on Belic’s interest in trying to understand the fundamental aspects of happiness, which stem from a article he read “A New Measure of Well Being From Happy Little Kingdom”, which indicated that the US was the 23rd happiest country in the world. I am not sure how this ranking was measured. Belic spent several years, meeting hundreds of people, to explore his own curiosity of what factors lead to someone being happy. The film helps deconstruct happiness from an abstract concept to a possible formula based on the principles of human psychology.


It was interesting because many of the aspects of happiness that were discussed coincide with concepts that were discussed by Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrated below. Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.

Maslow also coined the term “metamotivation” to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment. The movie reflects, that regardless of socioeconomic factors and wealth, a individual was capable of feeling happy if he/she were capable advancing their life according the hierarchy that had been stated by Maslow. I thought this was an interest parallel which was not discussed in the movie, however coincided. I think in many ways I believe that Maslow’s hierarchy applies to my life, where I try to focus on my health first and foremost.


Source: Medium, Author Vilash Reddy, MD


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