Humans love stories. Stories build empathy, help us feel connected, take us on adventures, and remind us of what is best about being alive. Books have even been written about how our brains are neurologically wired for story.
Some of my recent favorite movies are stories that have important messages about following your life’s calling. I’ve compiled a list to get you started. But I encourage you to review the stories that have stayed with you this past year. What themes connected with you? What characters did you fall in love with? Which villains outraged you? How do the stories inspire you to follow your life’s calling?
Coco-Know your family’s story.
Miguel dreams of becoming a musician like his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz. But his family has banned music from their lives because of a tragic past. Miguel uncovers the truth of his family’s past so they can re-write their future together.
Sometimes we must return to our past in order to re-write the future. What careers or majors have you been told to avoid? Sometimes this is communicated directly, but sometimes this is communicated indirectly by our families, teachers, and peers.
Wonder- Applaud others (and yourself) for choosing authenticity.
August Pullman is born with a medical condition that causes him to have facial differences. He has spent his life hiding his face behind long hair, Halloween masks, and an astronaut helmet. When his parents enroll him in public school for the first time, August must navigate the world of 5th grade without a mask. His bravery is inspiring.
Our daily lives are full of brave choices we’ve made. When we choose to connect, rather than detach. When we choose compassion, rather than sarcasm. When we choose vulnerability, rather than defensiveness. Choosing to be yourself, with all of your strengths and all of your flaws, is perhaps the bravest choice you can make.
Moana- Trust what you’ve been given.
Moana leaves the comfort of her home behind when she sails out on an adventure to save her people. Her parents beg her to stay, but Moana trusts the wisdom that has been handed down from her grandmother, and her own “internal compass.”
Following your life calling requires you to trust what you’ve been given. This is more than your skills, your gifts, your interests, and passions. These are all great attributes, but you’ve been given more than these. For Moana, it was a deep internal wisdom to sail out into the unknown to save her people. What is your internal compass pointing you toward?
Downsizing- What is the good life?
In Downsizing, Paul Safranek opts to have a futuristic procedure where he is “downsized”- or shrunk to a height of about 5 inches. Paul sees this as a way to live a life of leisure with his wife, Audrey. However, a series of events leads Paul on an unexpected adventure where he must face choices about what it means to “live the good life.”
This movie is great because it asks the question, “What is the good life?” Asking this question of your own life will clarify your life calling and the direction you see yourself going.
Secret Life of Walter Mitty- Elevate the mundane.
Walter Mitty is a daydreaming photography technician at Time Magazine. He’s bored with his work and fantasizes about a life of excitement. When he cannot find an important photo for Time’s last cover, he is forced to go on a globetrotting adventure to uncover the truth of the photo. The surprise twist is that the photo had been in his possession from the beginning, and the photo was of him doing his “boring” job.
This movie elevates the mundane daily tasks of work. Even when you aren’t on an adventure, you are living in one. How can you elevate the daily grind? Be creative. Be spontaneous. Think adventurously.