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3 Things Aladdin Teaches Us About Being More Honest – With Ourselves and With Others

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Aladdin first became popularized in the United States in the 1990s by Disney’s animated musical of the same name. But the story is not original. In fact, the story of Aladdin is actually several hundred years old and is only 1 of over 1,000 original stories published in a book called Arabian Nights in the 18th Century. 

Despite there being different versions, let’s stick with Disney’s take for our purposes here. In the film, Aladdin is a street-wise orphan who hustles and steals to try to get by. But after a series of events leads him to discover a magic lamp with a Genie who will grant him 3 wishes, he completely transforms himself. But this comes at a cost.

Aladdin wishes to be a rich prince so that he can win the heart of Princess Jasmine, who he met and lied to about his identity when he lived in the streets. The problem is, even though Aladdin becomes a rich prince, Princess Jasmine recognizes him which causes Aladdin to lie to her for a second time. Throughout the course of the film, Aladdin continues to lie and lie until it not only almost costs him the love of the Princess, but almost costs him his life. 

What can you and I learn from Aladdin specifically as it relates to honesty and dishonesty in our own lives? 

  1. When in potential trouble, dishonesty seems more convenient. Aladdin found himself in trouble all throughout the film. While some of this trouble wasn’t his own fault, some of it was. When Princess Jasmine confronted him about his identity (she did recognize him from the streets when he became a fake prince) he chose to deceive her. But why? He did so because he thought the princess would never accept the real him so he became something else to try to win her over. In our lives, we might also experience potential troubling or inconvenient situations and we too will have to choose between whether we will be honest with others or trick them into believing we’re something (and somebody) other than who we are. Have you ever been less than forthright with people because you wanted their acceptance?
  1. Dishonesty jeopardizes our relationships. Even though Aladdin thought he was trying to maintain his relationship with Princess Jasmine by lying to her, he was actually jeopardizing it because he was manipulating her for his own purposes. It’s not that he meant her harm, but he still disrespected her by taking her for a fool. Instead of being brave himself, he chose to act cowardly so that he could make her his girl by any means necessary. For you and me, when we tell fabrications or half-truths we are manipulating others even if our intentions are good and very much disrespecting them. For our own sakes, we should be completely straight with people so that we don’t potentially lose important relationships.
  1. Dishonesty makes us postpone our own growth and development. One of Aladdin’s biggest flaws was that he was less than truthful and had a tendency to cover things up, especially as they related to Princess Jasmine. Each time he covered up, he was delaying growing into the person he was meant to be – an honest and courageous man who was strong enough to tell himself the truth so that he could tell others the truth too. For us, we must choose honesty if we are to stop lying to ourselves and others – and if we are to overcome our biggest flaws and grow into the people we’re meant to be.

Ultimately Aladdin teaches us great lessons about honesty and dishonesty. It shows us that we should always be honest even when it seems less convenient; that we should not risk our relationships for lack of honesty; and that by being honest with ourselves and others we are choosing to accelerate our own growth and development as people. 

Dr. Rob Carpenter - known simply as “Dr. Rob” - is a transformational author, filmmaker, and CEO whose mission is to entertain, empower, and uplift people and humanity.

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3 Things Jurassic Park Teaches Us About Man’s Hubris

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3 Things Jurassic Park Teaches Us About Man’s Hubris

As a kid, Jurassic Park scared the bejesus out of me – and I loved it. Not only did the film gross hundreds of millions at the boss office, but it became one of my top 2 or 3 favorite Steven Spielberg films of all time. 

A recap is probably not necessary, but in case you haven’t seen it in a while I’ll provide a brief one here. In the film, a crazy old entrepreneur invests in an exotic island to bring dinosaurs back to life. He wants to commercialize his island, so he flies out top paleontologists to certify that in fact his dinosaur creations are real and that it is safe for everyday consumers to visit the island. Of course, once the paleontologists arrive things go downhill very fast. The crazy old entrepreneur has not in fact provided a safe environment for people to visit and has done just the opposite: he has endangered the lives of everyone on the island, including the visiting paleontologists – and his own. Ultimately, he and the paleontologists survive but not before some wild encounters with some very hungry velociraptors.  

What can you and I learn from this movie? Or more specifically, what can you and I learn about man’s hubris from this film? What warning signs is it giving us for our own lives and society?

  1. Jurassic Park shows us that man is capable of anything. The crazy old entrepreneur invested in the exotic dinosaur island because he had faith in not only his abilities but in the scientists’ he hired to engineer dinosaurs from scratch. Even though no animal had been cloned to this point in human history (not even a dog), the crazy old entrepreneur felt he could replicate the baddest – and most vicious – animals that have ever graced God’s green earth. For you and me, this shows us that we are truly capable of anything. There is literally no stopping our creativity, scientific genius, or tenacity if we want to achieve something badly enough. But just because we want something badly enough doesn’t mean we should go after it – as the crazy old entrepreneur learned.
  1. Jurassic Park shows us that, even if our ideas are morally or scientifically questionable, there will always be willing accomplices if the price is right. That is, no matter how strange, suspect, outlandish, or ethically preposterous our ideas are, we can always find people who will go along with them for enough money – or enough benefits. This crazy old entrepreneur wasn’t a scientist but he had something a few scientists wanted as much or more than they wanted to practice ethical science: cash. Likewise in our own lives, we see crazy ideas – be they technology projects or companies, movies, and the like – get going simply because those behind them were bought and paid for with lots and lots of money. This shows that we can sometimes go along for rides when we have no business going in the first place – just for a little bigger bank account.
  1. Jurassic Park shows that unintended consequences will be inevitable. One of the craziest parts of the exotic dinosaur island is that so few of the people there, including the crazy old entrepreneur, actually understood the potential ramifications of their actions if they didn’t go according to plan. And of course, things almost never go according to plan. In our society, I often find it very heartbreaking when I hear very smart people in Silicon Valley extolling the virtues of their technologies without so much as thinking of the potential downsides. 

Of course, there are other lessons Jurassic Park can teach us about man’s hubris. But the film goes to show that we are hubristic to think that just because we are capable of anything – and just because we can pay people off to help us reach our crazy capabilities – doesn’t mean we always should. 

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3 Things It’s A Wonderful Life Teaches Us About Remaining Hopeful

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3 Things It’s A Wonderful Life Teaches Us About Remaining Hopeful

It’s A Wonderful Life is not only one of the most beloved Christmas films of all time, it is one of the most beloved films of all time. The director of the film, Frank Capra, had just finished a stint in real life serving in World War 2 – he helped defeat the Nazi Propaganda machine by making pro USA films – and when he came back to Hollywood he made a decidely fitting film that encourages us to count our blessings (just like his war experience made him count his).

Here’s a quick recap of the film in case you haven’t seen it in a while. The movie follows George Bailey who is at his wits end and thinks it’s just about time to end his life after a series of unfortunate events occur causing him to potentially lose his family business. After these incidents, he takes himself to a bridge and tells God that he wishes he would have “never been born” as he sees himself as a total failure and loser. George is about to jump off the bridge just before his guardian angel, Clarence, suddenly intervenes and escorts him back to his hometown, Bedford Falls, to show him what life would have looked like if George in fact had never lived. After seeing that the town would have been a dramatically different – and worse – place without him, George realizes that maybe his life wasn’t so bad after all. Suddenly back at the bridge, George begs for his life back and God gives it to him.

What can you and I learn from George and It’s A Wonderful Life about remaining hopeful if we’re ever at our own wits end?

  1. We should remain hopeful because help often comes when we need it most. George, who thought that life was over after he lost money to save his family’s savings and loan business, felt the only option he had was to commit suicide. However, God had different plans and sent him his guardian angel to show him that his life was really just getting started (that, in fact, the best of his life was just getting started). Even though George was skeptical at first, he went along with Clarence (the angel) because somewhere in his heart he knew that he needed any kind of help he could get (deep down he knew he didn’t really want to commit suicide). Likewise in our own lives, whether we’re at our wits end like George or in some other dark situation we don’t see a way out of, we should have at least a smidgen of hope because our help could be on its way literally any time. It may not show up the way we expect it to, but it will show up if we’re only open-minded enough to both recognize and accept however it comes.
  1. We should remain hopeful because even if we don’t currently see how our lives have impacted other people, we should know that they have. Because of one bad break with his family’s business, George believed that his ENTIRE life was a failure and that everything he had ever done was worthless. Even though this wasn’t true, he couldn’t see past his negative circumstances to any of the good that he had ever done in his own life. But Clarence broke this wrong thinking by showing George all of the moments where he had done good to remind him that his life had in fact mattered and that, without it, things would have been much worse for the people that George loved the most. In our own lives, we sometimes question if what we’re doing actually matters – whether it actually makes a difference to anyone and whether we actually matter- and we should know that our lives do really in fact matter and make an important difference for others. Regardless of whether we know how our lives positively impact people right now, we should understand that they have made a difference even if our feelings don’t support this thought/reality 100% of the time.
  1. We should remain hopeful because we will always get a second chance. George got a second chance to live not just when the angel intervened, but many other times in his life too. After all, George could have lost his life in World War 2  (he was a war hero who lost his hearing) and could have had other moments of personal and professional failure, but he was given second chances whether he knew it or not. In your life and mine, we have had more second chances than we have realized and we may get more second chances in the future when we least expect them, which is why we should remain encouraged.

Ultimately, It’s A Wonderful Life teaches us that we should always be hopeful. Even if we don’t know how the dark moments in our lives are going to turn around, if we embrace that help can come when we least expect it; that our lives are really making a difference for others; and that we will get more second chances we will be well on our way to keeping a positive attitude no matter what life is throwing our way. 

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3 Things Invisible Man Teaches Us About Surviving A Crisis

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3 Things Invisible Man Can Teaches Us About Surviving A Crisis

Blumhouse’s latest adaptation of the classic Invisible Man story became a runaway success. Although the film was only made for $7 million, it went on to earn over $134 million at the box office. Clearly a lot of people resonated with its message.

The movie follows a domestic abuse survivor named Cecilia who escapes from her controlling husband Adrian- who happens to be a tech genius millionaire who has created a suit that makes you invisible. After escaping, a shaken and traumatized Cecilia is told by her sister that Adrian is dead and can no longer threaten her. And that’s when the action heats up. Unbeknownst to Cecilia, Adrian is actually not dead and he has been stalking her while he wears his invisible suit and progressively making her life a living nightmare. Ultimately, she has to survive between saving her life or ending his.

For our purposes here, what can this film specifically teach us? What can we learn from Cecilia about survival in our own lives (whether or not we are currently facing a crisis)?

  1. To survive a crisis, we must face our fears. For Cecilia, she had no other choice. Because her ex was invisible she could either let him continue to terrorize her, give in to his demands (he wanted her to return to him), or take him head on. Although she contemplated giving in, she ultimately decided to face him – and her fear of losing her life – squarely in the face. For you and I, if we are going through a threatening situation we cannot run from it. It might be our instinct to get away or to hide or ignore what we’re going through, but ultimately we will have to make a tough decision at some point. Cecilia shows us that we should choose to face our fears as hard as they might be.
  1. To survive a crisis, we must understand that some people will not understand what we’re going through. Even though Cecilia was acting completely crazy – and exhibited all of the signs of being a domestic violence victim – her sister did not understand the mental and emotional turmoil she was going through. Even when Cecilia was framed by Adrian (he sent a fake e-mail to Cecilia’s sister e-mail from Cecilia that looked like Cecilia was being critical of her), Cecilia’s sister did not offer any love, support, or understanding. And she didn’t offer these things even though she knew Cecilia was struggling through some sort of crisis. Likewise in our own lives, sometimes the people closest to us will not understand what we’re going through and may not show up in the ways we think they should. Despite that, we have to continue pressing ahead to be overcomers.
  1. To survive a crisis, we have to outsmart the people or systems against us. Cecilia not only had Adrian against her, but she also had the state of California against her (because Adrian framed her for murder which is what convinved the state she was crazy). Even though Cecilia was innocent in all of this, she still had to develop a strategy to outwit the people and systems that were enemies in her life. For us, in a crisis there will either be people, systems, or forces that are not on our side that we will have to outmaneuver so that we can successfully survive.

Invisible Man ultimately teaches us many great lessons about survival. By showing us that we have to face our fears head on; that we have to understand that not everyone will believe or understand what we’re going through; and that we have to outsmart people or systems to survive a crisis this movie is a clear roadmap we can use to find victory in our own lives if we’re facing a challenging situation. 

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