5 Life Lessons From Animation

{4 minute read}

In the past month I have cried at every single animated film I’ve watched.

Every. Single. One.

Storks – water works. Zootopia – flood gates. Brother Bear – forget it. Does this make me a pansy ass? Maybe. But (pointer finger raise), do I have a case? Definitely!

Allow me! The hook for each of these tearjerkers is that each protagonist achieves what every flesh and blood human craves: a genuine sense of belonging and clear purpose without the sacrifice of integrity and drive. Not to mention, solid humor! (Major bonus for the sloth bank scene in Zootopia which was a Curb Your Enthusiasm scene in animated form. And Jason Bateman voicing the fox? C’mon! Sold!)

What stood out the most was that each of these movies’ main players were grounded in perseverance, perspective and passion. When they veered off course they pivoted back through self-forgiveness and love. (Yes, self-forgiveness and love. If this is too much to handle, dock your Mother Ship of Resistance so you can make a little more room for some S & L in your own life. I struggle with this area so I’ll give a full-on self-forgiveness focus in a future piece. And yes, I forgive myself for not concisely fitting it all in this article. See? Baby steps.)

In some non-animated circles, the beauty of the three P’s are embraced and celebrated. In others, perseverance is too aggressive, perspective is too disloyal and passion is too dramatic. To those circles I say: “It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault.” I call it the Good Will Hunting moment. The moment that we need to drop our guards, get out of our own way, and admit that we are human beings who want and need to be seen. One step further – seen for who we are, not how others want us to be.

The funny thing is, once we take the uncharted steps towards showing our true selves a few marvelous things happen:

1. You realize that it’s more freeing than you can imagine. A hundred pound imaginary weight is lifted and you feel lighter and clearer. Major revamp of energy. The fear diminishes. Notice that I didn’t say disappears. It lessens its power over you so you can more easily distinguish between natural fear for your life vs. the fear for your ego. Big difference. HUGE!

2. You find your keepers. The peeps who stick around are the partners who are there for you, not just when you need a shoulder to cry on for mishaps and challenges, but when you need a hand to cheer for your successes and accomplishments. These are the people who are your bona fide tribe. These are also the people who you can tell that you’ve been wanting to write a cookbook all about turnips, or go back to school at 50, or take a year sabbatical and travel, or open a business that has nothing to do with your current job, or make any other unfulfilled dream come true. These are also the ones you can call when you were a total jack ass to someone (probably a loved one, cause that’s how we roll) and you’re not sure how to fix it. These are the ones who will call you out when you need to be called out. These are the people who will have your back when you don’t have your own. Find these people. They are life savers and game changers!

3. You understand what all of the cliché bumper stickers and magnets are talking about. When they root you on to be brave in the face of adversity and step into the world with your head held high and the wind at your brow? Or your back? The wind is somewhere and it’s helping stabilize you and support your every turn. You finally get it! Know why? Because you’re not just taking it in anymore. You’re actually acting on something. This allows you to make room in your life for more of the “keepers”. You won’t have to go searching because once you show yourself, they will too.

4. You have a a renewed love of life. You actually find yourself taking better care of yourself. You are no longer on the back burner. You still ( or start to) show up to the gym, or your mat, or the pavement without indignation and a pout-fest. You do it with a new found grace and dignity. A 15 minute walk instead of nothing? Sure. 3 solid deep breaths because life responsibilities have you missing your yoga class? Better than nothing.

You don’t berate yourself for missing a day but actually forgive yourself. You have self-forgiveness (there it is again!) on your shoulders instead of the boot camp instructor or Mussolini, depending on the day.

Which leads to a decrease in mindless consumption and an increase in mindful creation.

The scrolls, shops, scones, smokes, or sauce don’t have as much of a hold on you as they used to. You will feel resistance to go back to your old ways but you will actually find it easier to shift yourself away. Because you know that what you have to offer the world is through output not intake. And hey, when you don’t have the will power in you, go back to #2 and call one of your “keepers”.

5. Then finally, you know what crazy thing happens? You’re not as pissed off. You’re not. You don’t feel angry at the world or your partner or your friends or your mom or your neighbors or the Facebook comment or the grocery clerk. You become more compassionate and lighthearted. It’s as if resentment and frustrations begin to thaw and melt away. Now, we do live in Upstate NY so sometimes as in nature, it takes awhile for us to thaw, but it happens. It totally happens. You don’t have room anymore for the petty thoughts and hang-ups that took up space in your mind. You’re not forcing them out. That’s the thing. You’re not consciously not thinking about them. You just stop doing it as much because your focus is on what you can and want to offer.

It’s a beautiful thing!

“All it takes is a little faith and trust.” – Peter Pan

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