All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Disney Movies
Spirituality, Disney Style
I am a huge Disney fan. Nick would probably say that may be a bit of an understatement. I have successfully converted him into one too! We share our love of Disney with our children through weekly pizza and movie nights. You can read about that in our post A Family Tradition – Pizza and Movie Night. The kids love Disney as much as we do, thankfully! (Our almost three year old was talking with his sisters and clearly and correctly pronounced Pocahontas and Rapunzel in the same sentence.) Each of the movies below can help you to start important conversations with your children if you feel it is age appropriate and relevant.
I credit Disney for helping me along in my happiness journey. One of the biggest reasons is that Disney movies are generally happy and positive. Of course there always must be a villain or two with some negative action or there wouldn’t be much of a movie.
Enter spirituality, Disney style. Embedded in the movies are some important spiritual lessons. These messages can help us out in our own happiness journeys as well. Below is a list of the Disney movies that really stand out to me as having a great spiritual message.
(Spoiler alert: I will be talking about the plots of some of these movies.)
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Related Post: Disney with Toddlers and Babies
Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition – (BD+DVD+DIGITAL HD) [Blu-ray], 1991 – To say Belle and the Beast get off on the wrong foot would be an understatement. They are both a little stubborn and take a while to warm up to each other. But when they do, they realize wonderful qualities in each other and Belle is able to get past the Beast’s appearance to see who he really is. We learn to see people for who the really are and to give others a second chance.
The Lion King (Blu-ray/DVD, 2011, 2-Disc Set, Diamond Edition), 1994 – The big take away from the Lion King is it’s central message about the circle of life. This message is explored throughout the movie and the song named The Circle of Life, which states that we are all connected through the circle of life. It is important to realize that our actions impact others. Through the song we also understand that everyone has ups and downs as they find their own path. Sometimes when you’re going through something difficult it is a nice reminder to know that others have gone through something similar and come out stronger because of it. The difficult moments make the sweet moments that much sweeter.
Pocahontas [Blu-ray], 1995 – In the movie, Pocahontas sings an incredible song if you take the time to really listen to her words. In the song Colors of the Wind she sings about judging people without really knowing them (“You think I’m an ignorant savage…”). She then continues to list the differences in thinking between the two groups of people. Her song really explores the importance of respect for other people and also for nature (“And we are all connected to each other in a circle, in a hoop that never ends…”). Both are very relevant topics today. This movie and its dialogue are a great starting point for a conversation with children about respecting people and our environment.
Tangled (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo), 2010 – When Rapunzel decides to leave her tower to see the floating lanterns for herself, she stands unsure on the windowsill wondering if she should go through with it. She makes the decision to go and happily and quickly uses her hair to slide down the tower wall. She stops inches from the ground before actually taking her first step. We learn that when you want to move toward a goal or dream of your own it begins with a single step. This movie also shows us the importance of trusting yourself throughout the journey.
Frozen [Blu-ray], 2013 – As a young child, Elsa watches Pabbie, the troll, heal her sister Anna after Elsa accidentally struck her with her ice powers. Pabbie tells Elsa and her parents that her power will grow and that while there was beauty in her powers, there is also great danger. Elsa spends most of the movie focusing on the potential danger, feeling isolated and afraid of her magic. It is only once she has learned to love, and let love replace fear, that she is able to enjoy life. We need to take that message to heart and let love replace fear. That can be easier said than done in some circumstances, but as Elsa shows us, once you do life is warmer.
Moana [Blu-ray], 2016 – If you are going to only watch one movie on this list, make it Moana. It is a gold mine of inspiration, without even going into the fact that she has no love interest in the movie and is does not fit into the Disney princess mold (we’ll save that for another day).
Moana makes the difficult decision to follow her heart and travel beyond the reef even though it is forbidden by her father, the chief. The journey is difficult and at one point she has to make the decision to continue the journey or to give up. Her grandmother’s spirit comes to her and tells her that it’s OK to go home. When she sees that Moana is at a crossroads, Grandma Tala lets her know that her experiences in life make her who she is and to listen to the quiet voice deep inside to guide her. Moana does this and learns to believe in herself. She also succeeds in her mission. Moana thought the purpose of her life was to become the next village chief to her people. In reality she was destined for so much more.
Through Moana we learn to listen to the voice inside us and follow our hearts. We need to trust in ourselves to do so. We also realize that life’s experiences are valuable and make us who we are. In addition, we find out that our lives have a purpose even when we don’t know what that purpose is. Listen to the voice within to find out who you truly are.
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To recap, Disney movies can teach us the following lessons in happiness and spirituality:
- Respect other people. (Pocahontas)
- Respect the earth. (Pocahontas)
- We are all connected. (The Lion King)
- Love is the answer. Let love replace fear. (Frozen)
- See people for who they really are. (Beauty and the Beast)
- Give others a second chance. (Beauty and the Beast)
- Follow your dreams. (Tangled)
- Trust in yourself. (Tangled and Moana)
- Follow your heart. The answer is within. (Moana)
- Your life has a purpose, even if you have yet to discover it. (Moana)
- Take some time for personal reflection to figure out the next step in your journey. (Moana)
What Disney movie guides you in life? What is its message?
What’s your favorite Disney movie & why?
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4 thoughts on “Spirituality, Disney Style”
Disney just doesn’t everything right, don’t they? Beauty and the Beast has basically been the cornerstone of my whole life. There’s always good in people.
Renee, I love Beauty and the Beast too! I agree, Disney does seem to do everything right!!!
We just introduced our kids to The Lion King and I had forgotten how great that movie is! I do love how wholesome and encouraging these movies are.
I agree Emily! They are pretty wonderful. 🙂