Most adults cringe at the thought of watching Spongebob. And many adults only go to the movies to see "children's" shows if they have kids. Maybe it’s time to change that. Take a look at these important messages that even adults need to learn from popular children's television shows, books, and movies.
Pabbie: “Fear will be your enemy.”
After injuring her sister accidentally with her snow powers, Elsa’s fear of her own abilities lead to them skyrocketing out of her control. Fear and stress can lead to bad decisions. It often causes more problems than what we were fearing in the first place. Keeping your fear in check by realizing how much it is affecting you more than the situation itself. For example, a woman was told by the midwife who delivered her that she would die before her 23rd birthday. The woman had seen other similar predictions by the midwife come true. She went to the hospital, hyperventilating the day before her 23rd birthday. She died in the hospital from her hyperventilation, causing the prediction to come true. The story is part of Annals of Internal Medicine, Baltimore Case Study Number 469861, a study done George Engel.
“Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper. That’s what it’s all about. Father, sister, brother: we need each other to raise us up and round us out.”
In the story, Kristoff's adopted family tries to convince Anna that Kristoff's flaws (such as his smell and his feet) can be improved with love. They say that while people don't really change, they can become better versions of themselves when they are supported. We are all imperfect and it’s the people around us who keep our flaws in check. Everyone needs their friends and family to keep them down-to-earth and reasonable. Without them, we generally aren't reminded of our humble beginnings, our bad haircuts, and our less-than-stellar life decisions.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Frozen is full of important messages that are relevant to people of all ages: desperation for love rarely finds love, fear causes more problems, the importance of love for family over romantic love, et cetera. No more Cinderella, desperate for a prince to save her from her circumstances. These princesses go out and fix themselves.
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Those of the “do what I say, not as I do” mentality should pay attention to this one. After Harry discovers that he has many similarities to the dark wizard who killed his parents, he doubts himself and his own goodness. Professor Dumbledore convinces him otherwise, reminding him that he made very different choices than Voldemort in similar situations, showing just how different they are. Knowing what is right and actually doing what is right are two different things. People define themselves by what they can do or know, rather than the choices they make. Yet, it is the choices that we make that shape our lives more than anything.
“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
The things happening in our head: our dreams, memories, thoughts, are very real parts of our lives. We tend to ignore it as insubstantial, but imagination and dreams make up a large part of who we are and therefore, are very real indeed. A year after Dumbledore's death, Harry walks to his own death and wakes, finding himself in a train station with his dead mentor, Dumbledore. They talk, and just as Harry prepares to go back to the real world, he asks Dumbledore the question above. It's easy to think of our fleeting thoughts as just that: fleeting and therefore, unimportant. However, they impact us more than we know. A challenge to prove that what happens inside your head is actually a very real part of your life would be to write down every negative thing you think to yourself all day long. This would include everything from “How could I forget the files for work? I’m so stupid.” To “It would start raining as soon as I step outside.” When you call attention to that negativity all day long, you will notice how much it affects you. This is a great way to remember the power of your own mind.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Harry Potter is, yes, about magic, but also about real internal struggles for understanding of the self and your own power. Dumbledore is a constant source of this wisdom for Harry and his friends.
Zuko: “I don’t want to make a life here.”
Iroh: “Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.”
After becoming fugitives from their nation, Prince Zuko and his uncle, Iroh, are forced to move to their enemy nation. Zuko only sees the negatives in the situation (which are albiet numerous: he is now poor, isolated, and wanted dead or alive). Iroh, however, wisely disagrees. Actively shaping the life you want is something adults often forget when in the daily grind. Life isn’t going to wait for you -- nor is it going to come and find you.
Iroh: “Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving, you will come to a better place.”
At this moment in the story, Aang confides in Iroh that he made a hard choice of love over enlightenment and his powers will now be weakened because of it. He is worried that he won't be able to save the world anymore. Iroh responds with this advice. This is not unlike everyone’s favorite fish in Finding Nemo, proclaiming, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” Everyone has a darker period of their life when they're more unhappy or just not satisfied with their circumstances. Just keep moving forward, and you never know what will happen, but eventually you can work your way to a happier life.
Why You Should Pay Attention: Avatar is full of nuggets of wisdom, particularly from Iroh, as he deals with his temperamental teen nephew. The show has a lot of good messages about choices, life, and growth that everyone can learn from, particularly twentysomethings.
So next time you're rewatching Breaking Bad, consider trading it in for something a little less depressing and a little more kid-approved. You may even learn something...