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“Success requires persistence, the ability to not give up in the face of failure. I believe that optimistic explanatory style is the key to persistence,” writes Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.
Do you know what is the best thing about this Seligman’s book? It is based on twenty years of research to demonstrate how optimism works to improve the quality of your life and how anyone can learn to practice it.
What is Learned Optimism?
Seligman defines it as an idea in positive psychology that implies that optimism can be created in any situation by continuously challenging the negative “self-talk”.
The research and literature published by Seligman prove that a person’s perception of positive or negative events is not hardwired and they do have the ability to change the way they think about a certain situation, thing, or an event.
Movies about Learned Optimism
Here is a list of 10 uplifting movies which teach distinct lessons related to learned optimism and motivate any person to see the glass of life as half-full and not half-empty :
1. It’s a Wonderful Life
If you think that your serotonin levels are decreasing and you might need a push to save yourself from going into depression, watching this uplifting movie can be a convenient solution for you. Based on the life story of George Bailey, the movie is about how he realizes the importance of his existence in the small town. The movie teaches that no matter how much we think of ourselves as useless for the world, we do hold certain importance in the lives of people around us.
2. Finding Nemo
When Dory and Marlin are stuck inside the whale’s mouth while finding Nemo, Marlin is worried that it is half-empty with saliva but Dory says that it is half-full. Despite all the odds and adverse circumstances, they never stop looking for Nemo and overcome all the challenges to unite with him. This gives us the lesson of never giving up in our lives
3. The Sound of Music
How can this list be complete without the mention of World War II and the Nazis? The Sound of Music is undoubtedly one of the best musicals of all times and tells a heartfelt story about a young, free-spirited girl, Maria. The film teaches multiple lessons but the one which stands out is that too much discipline and strictness can suck out life from you. Love and standing as a unit through difficult times can take you out of any kind of unpleasant circumstances.
4. La La Land
Even if you feel that your self-confidence is close to shattering or if all you’ve got is the leftover toast for the dinner, you must never quit following your dreams. Mia thought that everything was over after her play was a disaster but she got the opportunity of her life from the director who was watching the same play. You never know when life becomes kind enough to throw a wonderful opportunity towards you so don’t stop trying or believing in yourself.
As cliché as it may sound but truly, age is just a number. In the movie Up, we see that Carle and Ellie had been saving funds for quite some time so that they visit their dream vacation spot, Paradise Falls. Due to different adversities in life, they had to break into their funds time and time again and never had enough money. Elle, at the age of 78, dies without fulfilling her wish but even after her sad demise, Carle finds a way to pursue their lifelong dream.
“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis
6. The Shawshank Redemption
One thing to never forget is that life is never fair to anyone. There are ups and downs and at times, we are treated in a way which we don’t deserve. Our truest strength lies in believing in ourselves and not giving in to the difficult times in life. Stay optimistic and persistent and you will be able to overcome all the hurdles and come out victorious from the bleakest circumstances.
7. Front of the Class
Based on the life story of Brad Cohen, Front of the Class is an uplifting movie about the journey of a teacher who is struggling with Tourette Syndrome. With no help from the society and no cure to his problem, Brad struggles to lead a normal life. He is comfortable in his skin and through his unhindered determination and learned optimism, he is able to convince others around him that he is a lot more than just his tics. The movie shows how a flaw in oneself shouldn’t stop you from striving for the best in life.
8. Cinderella Man
Resilience is a trait which is defined as a person’s ability to recover from a loss, illness, or any other kind of misfortune. The only way to acquire it is through optimism and this is exactly what Jim Braddock does to survive the financial setbacks during the Great Depression. During the toughest of times, one must maintain a high sense of community, should strive for his passions, and must maintain a positive approach towards life.
9. Legally Blond
A light-hearted comedy, Legally Blond teaches us a lesson of fighting stereotypes and not judging others by their appearance. It is quite hurtful when people laugh at you and don’t value your skills and strengths. Elle proves that there is a lot more to her than just being a fashionista and pursues her goal of being a Harvard Law School graduate. She applies her knowledge and wisdom to prove herself in the courtroom and wins the appreciation of all those who criticized her.
This movie is not for the faint-hearted because it deals with the most ruthless issues of our society. Being abused by her father and not safeguarded by the mother, Precious is one child who is dealing with obesity, bullying, illiteracy, and teen pregnancy. Her fight reaches the edge when she gets to know that she is HIV positive but despite all this, she strives for a new life in order to have a blissful future for herself and her children. The movie tells us that we can still find a reason to live even if there is no one to support us.
Give a watch to these movies and learn how all these strong characters opted for learned optimism to fight their respective adversities thrown at them by life.