Just a few weeks ago was the 20th anniversary of one of America’s most beloved films: Forrest Gump. (When did we all get so old?!)

This fabulous film is equal parts funny, inspiring, and downright heart-wrenching. In fact, there are quite a few life lessons that can be learned from this fabulous movie—and not just about chocolates and running (although that’s definitely included).

Listen up, and prepare to have the intense urge to open up Netflix and start re-watching. (Yes, it’s on Netflix. You’re welcome.)

Life Lessons We Can Learn From Forrest Gump

1. Don’t be afraid to be honest…

Forrest always blurts out everything that’s on his mind, and it cracks everyone up—or helps them realize something huge about themselves. Sometimes it can be mildly offensive…but no one really minds, because he always means well.

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2. …no matter who you’re talking to

Whether it’s the lady at the bus stop or the president of the United States, Forrest treats everyone exactly the same – with equal respect, but also with equal honesty. Brown-nosing doesn’t exist in Forrest’s world, because no matter the status, a person’s a person.

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3. Always tell those you care about how you feel

Forrest never hesitates to demonstrate and express his affections for those he cares about. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and everyone who matters to Forrest knows that they matter to Forrest.

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4. Don’t be afraid to love…

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Just like he isn’t afraid to express his care for others, he isn’t afraid to love deeply, from the bottom of his soul. He’s not afraid of getting hurt, and he doesn’t overthink – he just loves. A lot of people could learn from this simplicity.

5. …and don’t be afraid to lose

Forrest experiences multiple deaths of those he cares about. Just like all other emotions, he feels his grief strongly and purely. He doesn’t shut anyone out, but rather faces it head-on: by visiting their graves and speaking to them like he always did. He faces death with his mother’s advice:

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6. Always try new things, because you might be great at them…

Someone asks Forrest to play ping pong. He takes the paddle and does it – and he lets his natural talents kick in. After all, who knows what you’re good at if you don’t try?

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7. …but if you’re not, that’s okay

Well, at least you tried.

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8. Sometimes, you just have to do the right thing, even when everyone tells you not to

Lieutenant Dan may have wanted to die on the battlefield, but Forrest wasn’t about to let that happen.

Your heart may be pulling you in one direction, while others are telling you to go the opposite route. Always trust your gut instinct. It may just save somebody’s life.

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9. Don’t ever let anyone tell you they’re better than you

Never. Mama knows best.

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10. Because seriously, what does normal mean, anyway?

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As the awesome Mama notes, society dictates what “normal” is. It doesn’t really have a true definition – it’s all relative. Don’t ever feel like you have to be “normal.” Let your freak flag fly.

11. You never know whose lives you’ll change

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Forrest doesn’t give a hoot about “normal,” and look what happened: he made The King famous and helped someone come up with the smiley face and a clever bumper sticker. And he had absolutely no idea. Be yourself, and remember that your actions matter in more ways than you know…

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12. Be careful what you say, because you can’t take it back

In my personal opinion, one of the most heartbreaking moments in the movie was when Jenny rejects Forrest’s marriage proposal, and he brings up a particularly cruel insult that she had thrown at him years and years ago.

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Think before you speak. Words can wound—and those wounds take a long time to heal.

13. Never take true friendships for granted

Casual friendships come and go, but when Forrest finds people he truly clicks with, he knows how special it is—and he doesn’t let that go.

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14. Appreciate—and share—the little things

Firstly, ice cream is awesome. Always remember how awesome ice cream is.

Secondly, always share with a friend or loved one in need—even if that particular person dumps your offerings in a bedpan.

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15. Do what you love

Live your life how you want to. Participate in activities simply because you want to.

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Not everything has to have a deeper meaning—but when you start doing what you love, it will develop a deeper meaning on its own.

16. Finally, always remember…

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Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76791138@N07/9129073984/sizes/l via Bel Zamarbide

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