They may be movies for kids, but animated movies can be a powerful teacher if you watch them with an open mind and heart…

Okay, let me just say that watching animated movies is a sort of compunction for me. I have two boys aged 6 and 4 and while I simply have to watch “boy” toons such as PJ Masks, Paw Patrol and even Slugterra or Sonic with them, I make it a point to intersperse their TV viewing with what I consider good animated entertainment. So yes, I do mean movies like Brave, Frozen, Up and Horton Hears a Who

While flicks like Inside Out, Coraline and The Little Prince obviously leave you with far more brain chatter than you began with, even the so-called nonsensical ones such as Kung Fu Panda, or the heartwarming ones like Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, leave you with tiny little realizations. And if you just open your heart, mind and soul to these tiny life lessons – you might just find yourself being in a far more joyful place, long after the movie has ended. Here are five life lessons that I took from animated movies… Or you can just watch movies for some inspiration.

Looks don’t maketh the panda, a hero or me

The entire premise of the first Kung Fu Panda movie was that of an unlikely hero. Far from the graceful tigress, the swift monkey or the lightning fast viper – Po is a fat, jiggly, clumsy panda who does nothing more adventurous than serving noodle soup to customers in his father’s restaurants. But he has a dream, as impossible as it may seem to everyone around. And whatever be his body, his heart is that of a warrior – he never gives up. A more unlikely hero I’ve not come across, but it warms the cockles of my heart – watching a pudgy, huge, immensely hungry panda overcome not just his emotional eating, but also fight real battles and ultimately win the hearts of everyone around by sheer persistence and for want of a better word, goodness.

Never, ever, give up on your goal

It’s like Dory says, “just keep swimming” – and that’s all there is to it. You keep swimming, walking, running, jumping, crawling, rolling, and moving in any way you can towards your goal, with a cheerful single-mindedness that takes you through it all. In Finding Nemo, it’s all about parental love interspersed with inadvertent friends who lend a helping hand when least expected. And in Finding Dory, along with going after your heart’s desire, it’s also about accepting your friends and family for who they really are – the complete package, faults and all. Both the movies are heart-warming in their own way, though many of us can perhaps relate to Finding Dory more – the losing-a-kid plot in Finding Nemo is scary beyond words. 

It’s really not too late, ever

Perhaps this is the best lesson ever from an animated movie: it doesn’t matter how old you are in the body, or even how aged you feel at heart – going after your dreams is a journey you can take anytime, anywhere and anyplace. Up’s premise starts very real and for sure, the plot takes a crazy turn about 20-minutes into the movie. Imaginative it may be, and somewhat impossible too – but the utter and sheer, well, uplifting feeling that you get from this movie is unmistakable. The movie makes you believe that no dream is impossible. It’s a courageous set of characters you encounter in the movie – from an old man chasing his late wife’s dream, to a young boy trying to come to terms with his parents’ divorce and finally to a creature who’s just trying to get home to her offspring – it’s a beautiful world the movie creates, and ultimately Up gives you a fresh dose of faith in yourself.

Accept yourself, for the world to accept you

No other movie than Wreck It Ralph stays truer to this premise – Ralph is the official wrecker of a game in a video arcade. His job is to wreck things in anger, which the goody-goody hero Fixit Felix fixes in a jiffy with his hammer – the game ends with Felix winning a medal and Ralph being thrown off the building. In the movie, all Ralph wants to do is win a medal and be considered good. He never believes in himself – his fixation being the medal. As the plot unravels, Ralph slowly realizes that the goodness he is seeking outside, lies within him all through.

He may have started out as the anti-hero wanting more, but the movie ends with him not wanting anything but to do good – and people finally seeing his true self only when he accepts himself first. And so the lesson – who you are, what you are, how you are – needs to be accepted first by you; the world will fall into line sooner or later.

Stop running from your fears – real or otherwise

Although many movies have tried to show this premise in many different ways, it’s the movie Home that truly brings it home, in style. The Boov society lives in fear, revels in fear. Despite being intelligent beings with sophisticated technology, the Boov tend to take preventive action for everything and, the Gorg (their bloodthirsty enemy) simply makes them run. Every time, all the time. In fact, the Boov consider themselves “best at running away”.

So when O meets the very human Tip, he is flabbergasted by her head-on problem solving approach -- only to realize that fears of the Boov were unjustified and baseless all along. When you fear something and run away, the fear itself ends up chasing you. Standing up to your fears, being brave in the face of bone-crunching, soul-shaking terror is what gets you through. Again, every time, all the time.

So there you have it – child-oriented movies that can give us adults a run for our money, when it comes to teaching good to the mind, heart and soul. Do share any life lessons that you learnt from animated movies with us in the comments section below…