The 5 lessons I learned from Forrest Gump


When it comes to movies, few can rival the cinematic genius that is Forrest Gump. Adapted from the book ‘Forrest Gump’, written by Winston Groom, the movie tells the story of the local idiot who manages to achieve great success by doing what he does best: by being himself. Forrest Gump was released in 1994 but it continues to be one of the top most watched movies of all time. I have probably watched the movie more than twenty times but I never tire of it. There are so many life lessons to be learnt from the movie and below, I share my top 5:

1. Learn to embrace the unknown-The movie starts out with Forrest sitting on a bench, waiting for the bus. He has a box of chocolates on his lap, offers one to the lady sitting next to him, pops one in his mouth and says, “My mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” This simple and unassuming statement helps me answers my most bewildering questions of all: Is life made up of free will or it is predestined?

2. Whatever you are, be the best you can be- Success isn’t defined by riches or fame. It is defined by taking pride in whatever you do and putting your best effort in it. Gump didn’t set out to be a football star, a national war hero, or a shrimp boat millionaire, but he did apply himself in whatever ‘mediocre’ job he was given or took upon himself. His honesty and conviction in his work always paid off without him even chasing after an extrinsic reward.

3. Trust yourself; it always leads you to where you need to be- There is a scene in the movie where Gump explains why he ran across the country and back. As he simply puts it, “For no particular reason, I just kept on going….I just felt like running.” Have you ever wanted to do something that made no sense to others, but made perfect sense to you? Do it. You’ll never regret it.

4. Life is made up of tragedies-…and yes, they tear us into pieces, but how you react to them determines if you become a victim or victor of your tragedies. As a child Jenny was abused by her father and Forrest never really understood why she would run away from home. When she grows up, she and Forrest went back to visit her old home and the sight of the run-down house makes her hurl rocks at it while cursing her father. Exhausted and emotionally drained, she collapses on the ground sobbing. “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks”, Forrest says. Sometimes we go through so much hurt that no amount of reaction can right the wrongs. Like younger Jenny, we can either try to escape from our hurt by indulging in unhealthy relationships or damaging behaviors; or like older Jenny, we can embrace our hurt and try to build a better life for ourselves and our families.

5. Your actions, not your words, define you- “Stupid is as stupid does.” Anyone can proclaim to be strong, lovable, etc. Don’t believe what people tell you; believe what they show you. Likewise, if you want strength, be strong; if you want to be loved, be love.

These are my top 5 ‘Gumpets’ of wisdom. What are yours?


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