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10 Positive Life Lessons I Learned from Holiday Movies

As we approach the holiday season, I realize how different things are going to be this year. It may not be as easy to maintain a positive attitude. One place to draw inspiration from is the movies. There are many life lessons I learned from holiday movies. Holiday movies can teach us how to live better and enjoy more happiness year-round.

So, why am I talking about movies as a functional medicine health coach? One aspect of my functional medicine health coaching is the use of positive psychology. During my training, I learned about a book called Positive Psychology at the Movies I’m a sponge for books like this. This book gives you movie ideas for the purpose of improving your well-being.

Using movies as a vehicle for personal change is appealing to me because movies can have a profound emotional effect on us. Today I am writing about two of my favorite movies. The first is It’s a Wonderful Life. The second is Elf. These are movies I watch every year. This year I’m performing in a Covid-friendly radio performance as Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life. If you wish to view the virtual radio play, you can catch the show here. The second movie, Elf, is a movie I never get tired of. And playing this movie is one way to assure that my teenage daughters come out of their bedroom to spend time with us.

What follows are some of the most important life lessons from these two movies. You might wonder how a movie can affect your health and why a health coach would write about movies. You can learn how to achieve a positive attitude from these films. A positive attitude can improve our well-being by reducing stress levels.

10 life lessons from holiday movies. How to learn positivity from holiday classics.

Life Lessons I Learned from It’s a Wonderful Life

Watch It’s a Wonderful Life here.

  1. Recognize that you make a difference. While the world’s challenges can seem overwhelming sometimes, we all can impact our environment and those around us.  George Bailey leads a simple life, but he prevents Bedford Falls from turning into a nasty Pottersville. The main gist of this classic movie is that George Bailey helped so many people without realizing his impact. You can make a difference in the little actions you take. The simple act of smiling at a stranger can affect that person’s life.
  2. Find the good in other people. With all the talk about “toxic” people, we may sometimes overlook the fact that we all possess a mix of positive and negative qualities. By appealing to the good in people, George helps people from his community succeed. For example, he noticed the good in the pharmacist and in Violet. Because of this, he prevented them from heading down a destructive path.
  3. Welcome help from others. As resourceful as George is, he still needs Clarence, the angel, to help him when he hits rock-bottom. We can’t always do everything on our own. Realize that sometimes we need to welcome help from others and it’s important to allow that. Most of the time people want to help you because helping others makes us feel better. 
  4. Realize that you will always have obstacles to overcome. Life is not perfect. One of George Bailey’s biggest obstacles was Mr. Potter. There will always be people or situations that we must confront. How we handle these situations is what makes a difference in our well-being.  
  5. Take some time to count your blessings. It’s easy to go through life without appreciating what you have. George got caught up in comparing himself to others and thinking he didn’t accomplish enough with his life. Take the time to appreciate where you are in your current life situation. Express gratitude for the things you have, the people in your life, and the opportunities you have every day.

Life Lessons I Learned from Elf

You can watch Elf here.

life lessons. What you can learn from the movie Elf
  1. Sing joyfully. Buddy the elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” While there may not be any group singing opportunities this year and you may not find joy as easily this year,  try to surround yourself with the music of the season and sing along. Blast those holiday classics or whatever you like to sing during the holidays despite different conditions this year. Singing and music benefit your health in the following way: (1) Relieves stress, (2) Improves mood, and (3) Increases immune response. Check out this article for more ways that singing can improve your health.
  2. Recognize the unhealthy patterns that get between you and greater happiness. Buddy’s natural father is a curmudgeon at the start of the movie and is resistant to change. Even though he was successful at his job, he didn’t live a happy and well-balanced life. Buddy becomes an instrument for his change and his father realizes what is truly important and becomes more joyful by the end of the movie.
  3. Become more resilient and go with the flow. Buddy remains cheerful despite being different. He leaves home and must adjust to many changes when he arrives in New York City. He approaches all of his obstacles with a positive attitude. 
  4. Approach life with a childlike wonder and appreciate the little things. Buddy approaches life with an appreciation for everything and everyone he encounters. If we try to observe everything with this same appreciation as Buddy (as if we were seeing things for the first time), we become more mindful and intentional about our surroundings. Appreciating the little things in life can improve our mood and our health. Now more than ever, finding gratitude for the mundane is important. People who express gratitude on a regular basis are happier and healthier people. 
  5. Take a breath before you respond. Buddy’s father explodes and says some hurtful words, which he regrets. Before you respond in the heat of the moment, pause and take a breath. Do those hurtful words need to come out of your mouth? Are they going to make the situation better?

These are just some of the positive life lessons I learned from holiday movies. Each year I look forward to watching these movies because they bring me joy. Enjoying holiday movies is a good way to slow down, spend time with family, and to reflect. It’s also a great way to revisit their uplifting messages and try to apply them to our lives. 

This year will be difficult for many families because we can’t be together. Because of COVID-19, we will not see our extended family this year. Maybe you are in the same boat. Why not plan on watching one of these movies with extended family or friends? Here are several ways you can enjoy a movie with friends and family virtually.

Finally, I’d love to hear what your favorite holiday movies are and the lessons you’ve learned from them. Please comment below.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, therapist, Registered Dietitian, or financial advisor. The information presented is purely for informational purposes.  Check with a doctor or other professional before making any nutritional, fitness, lifestyle, or financial changes. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any suggestions or ideas from this site.

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