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8 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Pixar Movies

8 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Pixar Movies

If you grew up watching Pixar movies, you might remember all the exciting childhood moments your favorite characters brought to your living room. When they went on adventures, made new friends and helped each other overcome obstacles, you felt like you were right there with them.

Pixar doesn’t just create movies that make us laugh, cry and secretly wonder if our stuffed animals come to life when we leave the house, though. They have created a franchise full of stories and characters that actually managed to teach us a few things about life, even if we didn’t realize it at the time. Here are some examples.

1. Toy Story

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    Buzz Lightyear’s catchphrase isn’t just for toys. Trapped by the evil neighbor kid and discovering he can’t fly didn’t keep him down for long, and we can soar through life with the same attitude. We can’t be the best at everything, but we can be pretty good at some things, maybe even many of them. We just have to believe we can succeed, and find a way to make it happen.

    With perseverance and faith, the possibilities are infinite.

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    2. A Bug’s Life

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      Flik’s lesson to Dot about being small and unable to fly is about a lot more than physical flight. Like Dot, we all have those moments where we don’t feel big or experienced enough to do what we feel we’re ready to do. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, though, doesn’t mean it never will.

      Every still moment is just life’s way of letting us know it’s time to slow down and grow.

      3. Monsters, Inc.

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        Mike and Sully have been through a lot together since they met at MU. Like all good friends and roommates, they have their differences, which often result in arguments. When the going gets tough, though, they always stick together. In the end, no matter how much they get on our nerves, our friends are the most important thing of all.

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        Our true friends will always be there when we need them most. We don’t have to wander through life’s obstacles alone.

        4. Finding Nemo

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          Our favorite blue fish is known not only for her forgetfulness, but also for her optimism. No matter the dangers Dory and Marlin face on their quest to find Nemo, she is without fail the voice of positivity. She never stops swimming, and neither should we. We’ll come face-to-face with sharks and get stung by jellyfish. Eventually, we’ll get to where we need to go.

          When life gets you down, just keep swimming.

          5. The Incredibles

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            Edna’s not just your average supersuit designer. There’s a lot of wisdom packed into such a small person, but we probably missed it the first few times around since she talks a thousand miles a minute. The best thing about Edna is that she’s not one to glance over her shoulder. Once it’s behind her, there’s no looking back. Look at all she’s managed to accomplish with that clever philosophy.

            What happened yesterday is over. The present is our key to owning our futures.

            6. Up

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              Ellie taught Carl the lesson of a lifetime when they were only kids: if you can’t find adventure where you are, it’s out there somewhere waiting for you to discover it. When we feel like we’re stuck in the same old place living the same uneventful life, it might be time to make a change. Maybe floating away to South America is a little much for our current financial situation, but never say never.

              Adventure is never far away. We only need to let our imaginations be our guide.

              7. Brave

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                Merida is good at a lot of things, including archery. She’s not so good at getting what she wants, though, until she realizes her fate was right there in front of her the whole time. Sometimes where we want to go and where we end up don’t seem to line up, but they will. We just have to be brave and face what’s ahead.

                When we take a deep breath and take aim, everything will turn out the way it was always supposed to be.

                8. Inside Out

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                  Fear holds us back from doing a lot of things, but it also serves as a reminder that avoiding the absolute worst case scenario is actually a good thing. Sometimes we’re in a tough place and have to learn to take life’s challenges one day at a time.

                  No matter what happened today, the most important thing is that we survived it, and we’ll make it through tomorrow, too.

                  We’ve only covered a handful of the Pixar classics that can learn and inspire us. Now that you’ve made it to the end of the article, you’re free to go make some popcorn and indulge in a much-needed Pixar movie marathon. Enjoy!

                  Featured photo credit: Lucius Kwok via flickr.com

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                  Last Updated on August 12, 2020

                  When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

                  When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

                  Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

                  In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

                  How to Listen to Your Gut

                  The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

                  Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

                  1. Tune Into Your Body

                  Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

                  However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

                  Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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                  Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

                  In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

                  2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

                  Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

                  There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

                  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

                  Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

                  As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

                  This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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                  4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

                  As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

                  Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

                  5. Challenge Your Assumptions

                  When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

                  In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

                  A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

                  6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

                  Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

                  There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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                  Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

                  Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

                  Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

                  We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

                  The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

                  We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

                  7. Trust Yourself

                  It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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                  Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

                  If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

                  The Bottom Line

                  The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

                  Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

                  More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

                  Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
                  [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
                  [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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