Life Lessons, As Told By Your Favorite Disney Films


Growing up, Disney films have always been one of my enlightening sources of entertainment. If you’ve never heard of Disney, seen the films, or sang the songs, then your childhood was incomplete. Disney films have taught me well in relation to lessons that are virtuously applicable in real life.

I was lucky to have been born in the ‘90s. This is the period where the animation industry was at its peak. Every year, new Disney movies came out and earned numerous audiences worldwide. I remember the first movie I saw in theaters — Pocahontas. I was in disbelief when I first saw hand-drawn animation in a large screen, filled with vibrant colors, paced with dramatic sequences, and awe-inspiring songs. My mom told me one of the very first words I uttered was “Poka” which could be a derivation of Pocahontas. Ever since then, my parents always took me to watch Disney films in the cinemas and rented VHS to view at home. I couldn’t deny that I owe my early years to Disney.

Now that I am a college student, I always steal some time (between excessive homework and projects) to watch Disney films as my stress-relief. Not only are they nostalgic and reminiscent of my childhood, they have reminded me about the lessons they taught me in growing up. Including the modern Disney films in this generation, they never fail to bring timeless tales to life and leave a mark in every child’s heart.

The Magic of Knowing Who You Are

Self-discovery is always the theme in Disney films. Aurora would never have known that she was a princess and she was betrothed to a prince if she didn’t follow her fairy godmothers back to the castle on her 16th birthday (Sleeping Beauty). Arthur would never have been the king of England had he not pulled the sword in the stone and persuaded the other knights that he, a puny little orphan, was able to do it (The Sword in the Stone). Simba listened to his father’s ghost on remembering who he is — the rightful heir to Pride Rock’s throne — and returned to his kingdom to reclaim his place in the circle of life (The Lion King).

Quasimodo didn’t let his physical deformity hinder him from saving a falsely accused gypsy on the verge of her execution (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). Hercules went the distance by discovering the true measure of a hero isn’t his physical strength but of the strength of his heart; thus deciding to stay in the mortal world where he feels he truly belongs (Hercules). Tarzan didn’t leave his family of apes despite knowing his human background and chose to defend them from the stowaway pirates (Tarzan). And Ralph didn’t settle being the “bad guy” in the virtual world when he decided to risk his life in saving Sugar Rush upon its destruction, deviating from his stereotype and transcending to a hero (Wreck-it-Ralph).

Self-discovery clarifies our essence and value in life. It’s in knowing who we are that helps us decide which choice to take or which path to tread. Everyday we encounter difficult situations, inescapable challenges, and unsettling conflicts. It’s in responding to these obstacles that gives us insight on our true being. We become patient when we persevere into the difficult situations. We become courageous when we test our wit and virtue to go through the inescapable challenges and reach triumph in the end. We redeem ourselves by keeping peace and humility to resolve unsettling conflicts. Like the Disney characters, we improve ourselves by discovering who we are and cling to our identity to live life to the fullest.

When You Wish Upon a Star

“When you wish upon a star makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you,” says Jiminy Cricket.

Disney films always emphasize the importance of dreams and their possibility to become real. Yet these dreams come with a price and it’s not something that’s easy to pay. In relation to reality, our dreams are only achievable once we do something to reach them. However, Disney encourages us that no dream is too big and no star is unreachable.

Like Pinocchio (Pinocchio), we must be brave, truthful, and unselfish. Brave, for overcoming life’s rigorous challenges and hardships that mold us to become better persons. Truthful, for applying competence and integrity in the works that we do. Unselfish, for being compassionate to our fellow dreamers and sacrificing our time and effort towards the people most significant and beloved in our lives. In addition, our conscience will guide us the way to enact these virtues.

Like Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Rapunzel (Tangled), we must constantly believe that we will be able to someday live the dream we wish to come true. It may be immeasurably difficult, but venturing out of our comfort zones and exploring new horizons might lead us to new perspectives that offer optimism to believe in our dreams. Becoming a part of this world is the first step for our lives to begin and see the light of endless possibilities.

Like Aladdin (Aladdin) and Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), we are more than what society dictates. Regardless of our social backgrounds, we are capable of achieving success through hard work and determination. As a reflection to Aladdin’s case, we can’t always rely on our personal genie (whether they are our parents or friends) to get what we want but sometimes, we have to do things ourselves to fulfill our wishes. On Tiana’s side, we need to continually remind ourselves that the dreams we are chasing must be shared with the people we love.

The key to accomplish our dreams is to never give up. We may have been under circumstances wherein we feel like it’s the end of our journey, but we must never forget why we started in the first place. The dreams we have in life mark our purpose of why we are living. And even if they are achieved, our triumph will inspire others to continue their journey to reach theirs. Anything our hearts desire will come to us if we only believe and continue to wish upon the star.

Love Will Find Its Way

True love conquers all. This is one of the most popular concepts Disney keeps on repeating in their films. No Disney film has not shown the power of love. Whether it is in the family, between lovers, or among friends, Disney teaches us that love is of highest importance and of deepest value in the world we live in.

True love is stronger than death. Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) is awakened by the kiss of the prince whom she fell in love with during their first meeting before she escaped the castle from the vain queen’s jealousy. Despite in a sleeping death caused by the poisoned apple offered to her by the queen in disguise as an old hag, she was resuscitated back to life when the prince, who travelled from afar in search for her, kissed her in her coffin fashioned in gold and glass by the dwarves. The kiss that symbolizes love is enough to explain its power to surpass the grasp of death.

True love holds no boundaries between social classes. Cinderella (Cinderella), being a maiden dressed in rags, won the heart of the prince not by her wealth or inheritance which was stolen from her by her stepmother and stepsisters but by her grace, beauty (both inward and outward), and kindness.

True love keeps friendship intact. Copper (The Fox and the Hound), stepped in front of the hunter and his master, Amos Slade, when Slade points his shotgun towards Tod, the red fox who was Copper’s best friend when they were young. Because of this, Slade refused to kill Tod and left the fox. Copper and Tod shared one last smile to each other, reminding themselves of the moments they shared in their friendship in the years passed, before the hound followed his master.

True love is deeper than outward appearance. Belle (Beauty and the Beast) fell in love with the Beast for the heart he had shown her despite his hideous appearance during the time they spent together in his castle. A prince under enchantment, the spell was broken when Belle confessed her love to him when he was about to die.

True love extends beyond distance, race, and culture. Pocahontas (Pocahontas) and John Smith fell in love despite conflicting cultures. In a world where race is diverse, the Native American princess conquered the heart of the English captain when she taught him the way of life and the triviality of races in relation to living in perfect harmony and peaceful unity.

Finally, true love is found in the family. Stitch (Lilo and Stitch) was adopted as a family member by Lilo even though she knew the truth of where he came from. Anna (Frozen) risked her life to save Elsa by blocking the fraudulent Hans’s sword from striking her sister. In the end, she discovered that this was an act of true love and it not only freed her from her frozen shell, but also taught Elsa that love is what she needed to restore the beauty in her power.

These lessons are applicable in our lives. They help us believe in magic that was lost once upon a time, follow our dreams, share our stories with the people we love, and lead to our “happy ever after”s.

featured image – The Lion King