12 Most Important Life Lessons from Forrest Gump
Someone was just recently chatting with me about my Please Stop Following me on Twitter blog post. In that post I include a picture of Forrest Gump glancing over his shoulder at all of the people who are running behind him. There are so many classic life lesson quotes in that one movie I decided to share my favorites. Enjoy and please add yours!
1. Know what love is.
Forrest Gump: Why don’t you love me, Jenny?
[Jenny says nothing]
Forrest Gump: I’m not a smart man… but I know what love is
Define love, seek love, make love, be loving, be beloved, start with love, end with love, do it with love, stay true to your love. Know love. Find inside yourself what you love. Then Cherish it for all you are worth. Because do you know what? It is all that you’re worth.
2. Be your best.
Mrs. Gump: You have to do the best with what God gave you.
Being your best is very complicated. It is about becoming more effective and taking responsibility. It is about making do with what you have. It is about being content with who you are. It starts with knowing yourself, then striving to sharpen and hone yourself. We all have God given talents. Use yours. It’s simple, be your best.
3. Love what you do and it is not work.
Forrest Gump: And cause I was a gazillionaire, and I liked doin it so much, I cut that grass for free.
Do what you love, love what you do. But it is more complicated than this. Thich Nhat Hanh would tell us that we can bring joy to every moment. Struggle with that idea (I know I do). Be in touch with what you love then strive to be your best. I think you’ll find them coming together…
4. Say what you need to say.
Forrest Gump: [narrating] If I’d a known that was the last time I was gonna talk to Bubba, I would of thought of something better to say.
Forrest Gump: Hi Bubba.
Bubba: Hey Forrest.
All too often, for many reasons, fear, inattention, complacency, we do not say what we mean to say. Listen to John Mayer’s Say, he had this one right. Stop, gather yourself, who is in front of you? Give them the best gift I know of, your complete regard for a few minutes. And say what you need to say.
5. Tell it to me like I’m a four year old.
Forrest Gump: Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.
The title is a quote from another Tom Hank’s movie Philadelphia. Explaining things to people so that they can understand them is a gift. It means tuning into them, who they are, what they know. It means taking time to understand first to then be understood. Mama Gump had it right.
6. What you believe you can achieve.
Forrest Gump: Mama says they was magic shoes. They could take me anywhere.
It is so important to give our children and ourselves dreams. Forrest Gump did go anywhere because he believed he could. Are you limiting yourself? Have you stopped believing? Listen to Journey’s don’t stop believing. Find your magic shoes. If you mom or dad didn’t give you a pair? Here, wrapped with care, in these words, I, Josepf, bestow upon you, magic shoes. Go, run, what you believe you can achieve.
7. We all have tragedy to overcome.
Forrest Gump: Mama always said, dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t.
Life can be brutal at times. So painfully hard. We get lost. Parts of us die with others. There is tragedy after tragedy and loss after loss in the movie Forrest Gump. The movie is about Forrest losing those he found most dear. Yet life has a way of coming back to us if we know what love is, be our best, and believe. Do not let heart-break or tragedy take your life. We all have tragedy to overcome, you can too.
8. Your actions always speak louder than words.
Forrest Gump: Stupid is as stupid does.
You cannot overcome words with more words. You cannot overcome deeds with words. You words mean little to nothing if your actions do not align. Stupid is as stupid does. Brave is as brave does. What do you do Do. BE. Not think, feel, intend, or say, what are you doing? How are you being? Your actions always speak louder than your words.
9. Believe in God, and strap in!
Forrest Gump: [dejected] No shrimp.
Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: Where the Hell is this God of yours?
Forrest Gump: [narrating] It’s funny Lieutenant Dan said that, ’cause right then, God showed up.
I love the scene with Lt. Dan strapped into the mast howling at the storm. Ever since Hamlet we’ve known: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Believe in God, a higher power, a center to the universe besides yourself. Then be prepared to go with the flow. Buckle on your helmet and take some wild rides. The more you center, and get in touch with your own core, the more open you’ll be to hear God’s calling.
10. You define your destiny.
Forrest Gump: What’s my destiny, Mama?
Mrs. Gump: You’re gonna have to figure that out for yourself.
Step aside from everyone else’s expectations. You define your destiny. It is about being in touch with what you love. It is about being your best, loving your work, holding regard for yourself and others while maintaining your boundaries. Believe in yourself, overcome your tragedies, act, be, seek God’s help. This is your life. Stand. Take a stand for yourself. Take a stand for who you chose to be. You define your destiny.
11. Imagine, then be.
Forrest Gump: In the land of China, people hardly got nothing at all.
John Lennon: No possessions?
Forrest Gump: And in China they never go to church.
John Lennon: No religion too?
Dick Cavett: Ah. Hard to imagine.
John Lennon: Well it’s easy if you try, Dick.
Isn’t the move clever how they weave old footage around Forrest Gump like he created / influenced things like Watergate and in this case John Lennon? Well in the words of John: “You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.” Imagine, dream, by all means dream. Then put some deadlines on your dreams to make them goals. Imagine, then be.
12. Look inside not outside.
Forrest Gump: [running] I had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. [he stops and turns around]
Young Man Running: Quiet, quiet! He’s gonna say something!
Forrest Gump: [pause] I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now.
Love this part, and it informed the Please Stop Following me on Twitter post which inspired this blog. No one should be following me… And we also should not be following anyone else. The answers my friend are not blowing in the wind they are simply inside, on the heart path.
I hope you enjoyed the 12 most important life lessons from Forrest Gump. I’m curious…. (borrowing this practice from Sharon Reed) what important life lessons did I miss? How would you have said it differently?
Featured image property of Paramount Pictures.