“Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories.” – Andrew Stanton.
Below I would like to explore the 10 revelations I’ve experienced from the stories of 10 animated movies that inspired, provoked and touched me.
1. Arthur Christmas
Takeaway: You will get what you work for, not what you wish for.
In “Arthur Christmas,” unlike his brother, Steve, Arthur never aspires to be a Santa but is compassionately concerned with delivering a missing gift to little Gwen Hines, which is the core requisite to be a Santa. At the end of the film he becomes Santa. So the film’s affirmation is to work for what you believe in not just wish for it. Success will arrive when you are the least concerned about it — because you might have deserved it by then.
When Gwen Hines eagerly gets down to grab the gift under the Christmas tree from Santa.
After a quarrel amongst the Clauses as to who is going to give Gwen her gift, the family realize that Arthur is the only one who truly cares about Gwen’s feelings and he is allowed to deliver the gift.
Gwen Hines: Santa brought me the bike I wanted!
[Then as Arthur is watching little Gwen unwrapping the present in awe …]
Grand Santa: Steve, you deserve to be Santa, but Steve, I wonder if Gwen is right.
[Then Steve accepts his brother as the new Santa.]
Takeaway: Someone special will always make you special.
Many of us worry about choosing our partner, but make sure you opt for someone who inspires you, supports you and makes you feel special, not someone who drains energy out of you. Someone special will always make you special. In “Rio,” Blu is a pet and can’t fly initially, but having met Jewel he does things he couldn’t do earlier. Jewel literally transforms Blu in all ways and makes him special.
When Jewel falls out of a plane and can’t fly due to injury, Blu literally jumps out to protect her, being aware of the fact that he can’t fly.
Jewel: Blu, you are crazy. What are you doing?
Blu: I’m not gonna let you go. We are chained-to-each-other birds, remember?Advertising
[Then magic happens, Blu starts flying…]
Jewel: Blu, you are flying … you are flying!
Blu: Yeah, I’m flying, ohoooooo … I’m really flying! You are right: I’m not an ostrich, I’m not an ostrich!
3. Finding Nemo
Takeaway: Go on a quest by faith, not by sight. You will be rewarded nevertheless.
Marianne Williamson famously said, “As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.” So if you believe in something, sometimes you have to just go by faith, not by sight. Had Marlin never gone on his quest, he wouldn’t have found Nemo. Had Nemo not tried to escape from the aquarium, he wouldn’t have reached his father. Both trusted their gut instincts and defied the odds to come through, finally reaping love.
After rescuing the fish from a trap, Nemo lies still on the ocean bed while his dad, Marlin, rushes eagerly to his little son.
Somehow this subtext moment brings me tears, particularly the mere mention of Sandy Plankton. It’s not actually about Sandy Plankton, it’s all about the daring quest of Marlin against the vast and deep ocean.
Nemo: Daddy, I won’t hate you anymore.
Marlin: Oh, no, no, no. I’m so sorry, Nemo.
Marlin: Hey. Guess what?
Marlin: Sea turtles? I met one, and he was a hundred and fifty years old.
Nemo: Hundred and fifty?
Nemo: Oh. ‘Cause Sandy Plankton said that they only live to be a hundred.
Marlin: Sandy Plankton? You think I would travel the whole ocean and not know as much as Sandy Plankton? He was a hundred and fifty, not a hundred.
4. Kung Fu Panda
Takeaway: To be someone special, you just have to believe that you are special.Advertising
There is no secret to anything, it just takes belief. Once you believe that, you can make anything happen. This is how Po realizes the true meaning of his own reflection in the Dragon Scroll in “Kung Fu Panda.” Belief is everything. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen at your will and nothing can stop you.
Having lost hope from an empty Dragon Scroll, Po tries to vacate the village along with his father, Mr. Ping, while he reveals the secret ingredient of the secret soup.
Mr. Ping: The secret ingredient is … nothing!
Mr. Ping: You heard me. Nothing! There is no secret ingredient.
Po: Wait; wait … it’s just plain old noodle soup? You don’t add some kind of special sauce or something?
Mr. Ping: Don’t have to. To make something special you just have to believe it’s special.
[Po looks at the scroll again, and sees his reflection in it.]
Po: There is no secret ingredient! [Goes to fight with Tylon.]
Takeaway: Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.
There is an artist in everyone but many of us are afraid to take the leap, doubting our abilities. Nobody is entitled to become a great artist based on personal advantages and vested interests, but everyone can become an artist provided they are decisive and passionate about it. It’s all about choice, not about opportunities. If a rat could become a fine chef in “Ratatouille,” why can’t we become anything we aspire to be? You may argue that it’s just a fiction, but every fiction is a figment of someone’s imagination, inspired by truth.
When Anton Ego writes a critique about the new Chef Ratatouille defying his own conventions.
Anton Ego: The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist can come from anywhere.
Takeaway: The worst part in your life could turn out to be the best part later.
Lightning McQueen, the super race car in the film, accidentally ends up in a small town called Radiator Springs. He is desperate to win the Piston Cup Race, which is going to be held in Los Angeles in a week, but he is forced to stay in the small town until he mends the road he destroyed. However, after initial hesitation, he begins to develop a beautiful bonding with the people there and he finds something beyond Piston Cup: love and family. “Cars” had a very simple lesson to tell: sometimes the worst possible things that happen in your life could turn out to be the best ones later. You may not understand why initially, but later you realize those moments actually define you.
Mater: I knew it! I knew I made a good choice!
Lightning McQueen: In what?
Mater: My best friend. [Referring to Lightning McQueen.]
7. Despicable me
Takeaway: It’s all about family.
Family is not an important thing: it’s everything. Life is all about human bonding. Stop searching fanatically for other possessions and just find your “family.” In “Despicable Me,” Gru desperately wants to steal the moon, but in due course, after adopting three little kids for selfish gains, he paradoxically finds a love that changes his perceptions forever. He is not the same person anymore.
When Gru reads a made up story of his own to the three little kids in in a moment of retrospection.
Gru: [reading the book he wrote] One big unicorn, strong and free, thought he was happy as he could be. Then three little kittens came around and turned his whole life upside down. They made him laugh, they made him cry. He never should have said goodbye. And now he knows he can never part from those three little kittens that changed his heart.
Takeaway: We are many leaves from one tree, nobody is alone.
A lot of us worry about circumstances that demand our resilience, and we feel self-pity, telling ourselves, “I’m alone.” But for your kind information, you’re not alone. And the world out there is not as bad as you think. Whenever you are feeling alone, depressed and hopeless, don’t worry. Keep on trying and seek help from people in all the ways you can. You’ll be never left alone; actually, we all are connected.
When Nod comes to rescue Ronin while he is trying to protect the pod from dying.
Mandrake: What’s that little saying you people have? “Lots of leaves, something, something …” Very inspiring. But in the end, every leaf falls and dies alone.
[Lifts his sword to kill Ronin, but right before it hits, a leaf man sword blocks its way in the nick of time. It proves to be Nod.]
Nod: No one is alone. Not even him.Advertising
9. How to Train Your Dragon
Takeaway: Never judge others cynically.
Judging is easy but understanding is difficult, that is the reason most of us are quick to judge. Before leaping to judgment, try to understand others’ perspective. You never know what they might have been going through. In “How to Train Your Dragon,” Stoick has fixed notions based on his prejudices, but Hiccup tries to understand dragons from their perspective. Once he does that, the whole island is saved and dragons become residents. A considered understanding without judging is all we need for the betterment of our lives.
When Stoick finds out that Hiccup is actually trying to defend Toothless, his dragon.
Hiccup: I screwed up. I should have told you before now; just … take this out on me, be mad at me, but please, just don’t hurt Toothless!
Stoick: [shocked] The dragon? That’s what you’re worried about? Not the people you almost killed?
Hiccup: H-he was just protecting me! He’s not dangerous!
Stoick: They’ve killed hundreds of us!
Hiccup: And we’ve killed thousands of them! They defend themselves, that’s all! They raid us because they have to! If they don’t bring enough food back, they’ll be eaten themselves! There’s, something else on their island, Dad, it … It’s a dragon like …
10. Kung Fu Panda 2
Takeaway: Know yourself first.
It’s all about you. Carl Jung famously said, “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” Once you discover yourself, nothing seems to bother you, like Po in “Kung Fu Panda 2.” From the beginning of the film, Po is always searching for inner peace. Once he finds it, he can face anything in the world, even the deadly weapon he couldn’t face before. It’s a beautiful metaphor to explain that one has to fight with one’s inner demons first. Once you do that, demons from outside don’t actually matter.
The final confrontation when Po ruins everything that Shen dreamed of.
Shen: How did you find peace? I took away your parents, everything. I scarred you for life.
Po: See that’s the thing, Shen, scars heal.
Shen: No, they don’t. Wounds heal.
Po: Oh, yeah? What do scars do? They fade, I guess …Advertising
Shen: I don’t care what scars do!
Po: You should, Shen. You got to let go of the stuff from the past because it just doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters is what you choose to be now.
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
- Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
- Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
- Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
- How did I do?
- Are there any areas for improvement?
- Did I sound or look stressed?
- Did I stumble on my words? Why?
- Was I saying “um” too often?
- How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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