My best friend had gone through a rough divorce. Stuck in the past, she was fixated on previous transgressions and couldn’t move on. Even though she was now single and didn’t need to worry about what her partner had done in the past.
I told her to embrace Elsa, from Frozen, to “let it go, let it go!”
She laughed at what she perceived was a joke, but I was serious. These were wise words from the fictitious ice queen, and my friend could follow them.
There are lots of motivational quotes from inspirational writers. Famous philosophers, politicians, activists and gurus. But the Imagineers behind many of the Disney characters come up with some great life advice. And just because they are animated and often sung, doesn’t mean they aren’t wise words, that we can learn from.
Pumbaa and Timon in The Lion King
Meaning “no worries” in Swahili, Timon and Pumbaa sing about their ‘problem-free philosophy.’ We can learn from Pumbaa who sings that he had no friends growing up, because of his bad smell. Unable to control this, he was depressed and even contemplated changing his name.
As the song progresses, he realizes, the smell is out of his control, and he shouldn’t worry about it and focus on his life.
Aside from being a catchy chorus, Hakuna Matata is a great mantra to live by. Worry can magnify stressors by bringing up negative possibilities. It becomes a vicious circle as negative thoughts lead to more negative thoughts, and the feeling of worry is exacerbated. This can lead to anxiety.
While we can’t eliminate all worry from our lives, we can certainly reduce them. We can only focus on controlling the controllable. Many things are out of our hands and can’t be changed. If we get too focused on them, it will lead to stress and anxiety. A relaxed attitude is more beneficial.
“Just keep swimming.”
Dory in Finding Nemo
In life, there are ups and downs. No matter what, when the temptation is to quit, you must persevere. When the tide is against us, in Dory’s case, literally — we need to persist and not give up.
Dory provides a great lesson in fortitude, even in the face of adversity, to never give up. If the goal seems far away, or unachievable, it can be broken down into smaller goals. When I write, I break it up into fifteen-minute stints so I am fresh and the goal is far more manageable.
Taking big goals into a lot of smaller goals or tasks will allow you to retain focus and just keep working through the challenge.
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and — snap! — the job’s a game!”
Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins
A while back, I was struggling with my writing. It had been my passion, my hobby, my relief — but when I moved to full-time writing, I felt under enormous pressure.
I became fixated on statistics, on chasing earnings, on trying to be more successful than other writers. Writing soon moved from a passion to a chore. I dreaded it. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities — and that is what I was suffering from.
That’s when I decided to make writing fun again. By taking in the advice of the British nanny with the umbrella. I started writing with a smile on my face. I would set aside some time each day to write some comedy or satire. Sometimes to publish. But mainly it was just for me to enjoy writing and laughing while doing so.
Every task in life, be it work, pleasure or a combination of both — can have some element of fun in it. The key is to find the one positive that makes the task fun. No matter how small it is.
If you can get some happiness from a task, it will make it far easier to complete.
“You’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Winnie the Pooh in Winnie the Pooh
If a fat honey-addicted bear can have confidence, then so can you. A positive mindset will increase productivity and help build resilience in overcoming challenges.
Walt Disney himself believed in the power of positive thinking. Back in 1919, he was fired from his job at a Kansas City newspaper for not being creative enough. Walt believed he had what it took to succeed and listened to the voice inside himself, urging him to keep trying. He went after success instead of succumbing to his fear of failure.
There have been many examples of people who were rejected but believed in themselves enough not to quit. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Stephen King had his first book rejected by thirty editors.
And like Walt Disney, they didn’t give up as they knew they had the talent and self-belief needed.
If you think you will fail — you will. You must have confidence in yourself and be your biggest believer.
“Today is a good day to try.”
Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
It is easy to put off a task. Or to push your dream to the side. But there will never be a better day than today to try. Tick an item off the bucket list.
Focus on doing, not avoiding. Minimize distractions. Turn off your email and social media. Don’t find reasons not to do something. You have one excellent reason TO do something.
There is no time like the present. It’s better to try and fail than never having tried at all. If you have always wanted to write an article — do that today. If you have wanted to learn a new language — take that first step today. Procrastination gets us nowhere.
“Now, think of the happiest things. It’s the same as having wings.”
Peter Pan in Peter Pan
Having positive thoughts can give people more energy and help fight sickness. Saying positive affirmations around self-belief can help reduce stress and create a positive cycle.
Research by the American Psychological Association showed that happier people were more successful. It wasn’t the success that made them happy; it was their happiness that led to success.
I like to start the day with positive affirmations. It helps me write, and it helps me move into a positive mindset. Even before my morning coffee!
What we think about a situation affects the emotion that we feel, which in turn dictates the hormones and chemicals that get released into the body, which then has a knock-on effect on our bodily functions. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions and positive outcomes.
“Let it go”
The example I gave at the beginning from Elsa is my favourite. While it may be an annoying song that gets stuck in your head all day, they are words I choose to live by.
Resilience is defined as “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”. It’s how quickly you can adapt to a setback or recover from a negative situation. Following Elsa’s advice, you should acknowledge an adverse situation but quickly bounce back and move on.
Once something has occurred, it is in the past. Unless you are Marty McFly with a time machine, you can’t change the past. You can only work on the future.
If an editor rejects your story — let it go.
If your sporting team loses — let it go.
If you have a bad day — let it go.
If you have gone through a breakup and are now on the other side — let it go.
There are some great life lessons within the Disney world that we can learn from and live by. But I would like to leave you with the motto of the man behind it — Walt Disney — that sums up all of the above in four words.
Find your inner Disney character to find your inspiration.