Life Lessons From the Movie Love Actually

December 13, 2016

Love Actually is a classic holiday movie, and it's definitely among my favorites (for the holidays and otherwise). It's a feel-good flick with valuable lessons about matters of the heart, like, finding love in a hopeless place, saying "I love you," and saying it often, and not letting a little thing like a language barrier stop you from being with the one you love. But if you look more closely at the film, you'll find that there are also precious life lessons that go beyond the romantic, "love conquers all" motif. Here are a few things we should try to remember in our every day lives.

Lesson #1: There comes a time when you have to put your own needs first. 
Laura Linney's character in the movie passes up a shot at romance with her crush to permanently care for her mentally ill brother; she puts his needs before her own, and basically succumbs to a loveless, sparkleless existence. All too often we make this same mistake in real life--we tend to the needs of others, we put the happiness of other people ahead of our own, we make ourselves less of a priority--and we risk missing out on a fulfilling, joy-filled life. Sometimes we've got to learn to say no to the demands of other people and put ourselves first.

Lesson #2: Wonderful things can come out of the most awkward or uncomfortable situations.
This is perhaps one of life's most difficult realities to accept, but it actually does apply to all of us. In the film, John and Judy are two body doubles, gracelessly fumbling around like a pair of shy teenagers (granted, they're working on a porn film set, and wind up simulating sex whilst naked--awkward), until they eventually turn their uncomfortable scenario into a love story. In real life, we all have to navigate some difficult and awkward situations, but if we can just hang tight, there could be an extraordinary reward waiting for us at the end. 

Lesson #3: Sometimes you've got to look elsewhere to find the thing you're after. 
In the movie, young Colin travels to the U.S. to find love after being rejected again and again by English women. This narrative can easily translate into all aspects of life--career, love, home, you name it. We are not meant to live our lives in the safe zone, and more often than not, the thing we want most is located on the other side of the comfortable little box we've placed ourselves in. If you've been searching and searching for the thing that will make you feel complete and happy, and you still haven't found it, it might be time to look elsewhere. 

Lesson #4: Know when to keep your mouth shut.
There are a lot of experts and a lot of books that will probably say otherwise, but sometimes it is best to keep your feelings to yourself. In this movie, Mark is in love with Juliet; Juliet is married to Peter; Peter and Mark are best friends; Mark keeps his big mouth shut. There is a moment where Mark shows up at the door with cards professing his feelings, but he never actually speaks the words. Our words wield the power to destroy, so we must not only choose them carefully, but we also need to know when it's best to say nothing at all. 

images via 1, 2, 3, 4

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