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SELF: Define Your Character

RESILIENCE: “People can't do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can't do it. You want something? Go get it.”

Movie quote from: The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – Chris Gardner (Will Smith)

HappynessThe Pursuit of Happyness is a film about the value of resilience.  While playing basketball with his son, Chris Gardner (as played by Will Smith) tells his son to forget basketball and do something useful.  Realizing the mistake of what he just said, Chris tells his son, “Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something. Not even me.”  He wants his son to know what he knows, that a persistent pursuit of your own dreams is the best way to bring a sense of happiness to your life.

IMAGE: "Riches harden the heart."

Movie quote from: The Good Earth (1937) - Uncle (Walter Connolly)Good Earth

In The Good Earth, an excellent film from 70+ years ago, the lead characters Wang and O-Lan experience the ups and downs of a life tied to the land.  Although they share common values when they are poor, Wang changes when wealth gives him choice.  Whereas O-Lan draws her values from within, committed to hard work, family, and her husband, Wang looks to society to shape his decisions.  The film raises an important modern-day question, "What does a person consider when making vital life decisions - identity or image?

DREAMS: “Somewhere along the line we stopped believing we could do anything. And if we don’t have our dreams, we have nothing.”

Movie quote from: The Astronaut Farmer (2007) - Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton)

astronautOur culture is not dreamer friendly.  We think dreamers are flaky or crazy until they are successful, then we think they’re great.  This is the case for Charles Farmer (Billy Bob Thornton) in the heart-warming film, The Astronaut Farmer.  He has built a rocket in his barn.  His plan is to fly it into space.  This has been his dream since he was a young boy.  We should honor those brave enough to pursue their dreams.  They make our world more interesting.

IMAGE: "I always thought it'd be better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody."

Movie quote from: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) - Tom Ripley (Matt Damon)

ripleyWhen a person is faced with a sense of their own insignificance, as everyone is now and again, they have a choice.  They can become more involved with life, bouncing themselves off a variety of human experiences until they discover a meaningful identity for themselves or they can pretend to be someone else.  In the 1999 film, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Matt Damon's title character chooses the latter, assuming a variety of people-pleasing impersonations along the way.  As always, the consequences of the false path don't reveal themselves in the short term.  But they do come. 

PASSION: “You know the Greeks didn't write obituaries, they only asked one question after a man died, ‘Did he have passion?’”

Movie quote from: Serendipity (2001) - Dean Kansky (Jeremy Piven)

serendipityJonathan’s (John Cusack) life changed the day he met Sara (Kate Beckinsale). After an enjoyable walk about town, they agreed to leave their future to ‘serendipity’. Rather than trading names and phone numbers, she put her name in a book and he put it on a five-dollar bill. They agreed that if either person stumbled across the book or bill, they were meant to be together. And so began Jonathan’s passionate quest to reconnect with the woman who touched his soul.

BEING COOL: “We’re too busy being smart alecks. Too busy in a crazy competition for nothing.”

Movie quote from: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) – Louise ‘Babe’ Bennett (Jean Arthur)

mr. deeds
Our culture is stuck. In 1936, the film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town featured the pop media and cultural elite's preference for making fun of basic goodness and optimism. Seventy years later, we show no progress. We continue to prefer critical perspectives over thoughts that are more constructive and substantial. How can cynicism and civic disinterest continue to be so cool?

CONFIDENCE: "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game."

Movie quote from: A Cinderella Story (2004) - Sam's Dad (Whip Hubley)

cinderellaWhen faced with an uncomfortable challenge, most of us turn away.  We choose 'not embarrassing ourself' over 'pursuing opportunity'.  This is certainly the case for Sam (Hilary Duff), a young woman whose father's death leaves her living with a stepmother who does not care about her. (does this story sound familiar?)  As we learn in the surprising film, A Cinderella Story, rewards often come to those confident enough to step up to the plate and swing.

PURPOSE: "Mind the gap - it's the distance between life as you dream it and life as it is."

Movie quote from: Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett)

notesWe all need a purpose to our lives. We must pursue things unaccomplished to bring new meaning to our day. However, obsessive needs can be mistaken for meaningful purpose. When this happens, damaging long-term pain is often the result. By narrow-mindedly pursuing short-term emotional needs, we place at risk values that are more long-lasting. No film better portrays the importance of 'minding the right gaps' than the powerful movie, Notes on a Scandal.

POTENTIAL: "I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think any conscious entity can ever hope to do."

Movie quote from: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - HAL (Douglas Rain)

halIn Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, the artificially interactive computer HAL is asked by a BBC interviewer if it was frustrated by its dependence on humans to get things done. HAL's confident response (cited above) demonstrates its sense that it was working at maximum potential. I don't know a single human being who could say that.  The great majority of us have never encountered our "fullest possible use" because we aren't focused enough to explore those possibilities.

RESOURCEFUL: "I didn't invent the rainy day man, I just own the best umbrella."

almost 1Movie quote from: Almost Famous (2000) - Dennis Hope (Jimmy Fallon)

Fifteen year old William Miller (Patrick Fugit) loves rock music.  The difference between him and other teens is that he writes for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines.  He earned this role by fearlessly launching himself into the world of rock musicians.  Rather than watching life, William gets involved in the things he loves.  Although a rock manager named Dennis Hope (Jimmy Fallon's first movie role) says the Almost Famous quote above, it represents the spirit of the film's lead character.  No matter what obstacles he faces, William always finds a way to make his dreams come true.

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