It’s been nearly 20 years since the movie Elf was gifted to the world. I’m not exactly sure when we began watching it yearly, but it has become a holiday staple for my husband and me. It might be the night we decorate the tree or it might be Christmas Eve, but each time we watch it my obsession with it grows.
Although Elf is labeled a Christmas movie, it is actually a year-round “Secret to Happiness” movie. It contains lessons in embracing our authenticity, our accepting and loving nature, our ability to be enthusiastic, open, vulnerable, naïve, generous, joyful, spontaneous, committed, trusting and self-unaware (meaning not taking ourselves too seriously).
So here you go—the top 10 lessons I’ve learned from Elf.
#10. This dude is TOTALLY comfortable in his own skin!
Every time I watch it I’m fascinated with how effortlessly Buddy the Elf walks through the world! A world that can be so quick to judge, yet he seems completely unaware and unconcerned with what others think of him.
#9. His unwavering belief in others.
Buddy’s ability to see the good in others is not only inspiring but completely endearing. HIS love and faith in others make me love HIM more.
#8. His fearlessness.
Now I say “fearlessness” but in actuality it is his willingness to move forward through any fear that touches my heart. Buddy appears to give fear no more thought than one would any other emotion. He appears to be aware that, like all emotions, fear is only fleeting and, like all emotions, should not be allowed to rule his actions.
#7. Buddy’s surprising secret skills.
Buddy’s ninja-like snowball skills and artistic genius with an Etch A Sketch pad are reminders that we each have secret genius inside of us. His effortless awareness of his own super powers inspires me to look for (and be open to) my own.
#6. His passion.
The way Buddy puts his whole heart into every single thing he does, no matter how small, shows me the power of being fully present. In my mind I always thought that having a passion is what causes me to be fully present. This movie demonstrates that the opposite is true—when we are fully present we provide space for passion.
#5. Unconditional love.
I cannot think of any other movie that demonstrates unconditional love the way this movie does. Personally the idea of unconditional love is a bit hard to wrap my mind around. It brings up feelings of vulnerability and fear, but watching it in action shows me how loving others, no matter what, can move others closer to unconditional love.
#4. Authenticity in action.
Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be 100% authentic? I do. Buddy’s ability to be fully authentic without even an inkling of pretense is awe-inspiring. What makes HIS authenticity so completely engaging is his pure heart. For me this is a reminder that if I’m unable to truly be authentic, I might have some “heart” work to do.
#3. How society views and reacts to authenticity.
I believe we don’t give society enough credit to be able to handle our own authenticity. I’ve been out in public and looked at someone and thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, I just love you!” It might be a funny hat they have the courage to wear, or the way they are able to laugh at themselves, or even just a vibe I get from them. Sometimes I turn to my husband and say, “I love them, can we bring them home?”
What would happen if I told them? Why do I resist? For one, my husband would be mortified. But mostly I keep my thoughts and feelings to myself out of fear of being looked at like I’m a crazy person. In actuality they might be surprised for a moment (so what?) and in the end take my loving thoughts with them throughout the rest of their day. Maybe it’s time for me to trust others to accept my own authenticity.
#2. I connect with the Buddy character.
Every time I watch this movie I am struck by the idea that I AM BUDDY, and there’s a part of me that would love to show that part of me to the world. As I watch Buddy I am in a perpetual state of wanting to give him a hug. It is a nurturing instinct and reminds me to nurture that part of me that IS Buddy.
#1. The movie perfectly demonstrates the beauty of innocence.
There are probably thousands of books out there that touch on this subject. These books talk about how, why, and when we lose our sense of innocence. But our connection to this movie proves that this innocence has not been lost, it is simply dormant. And it is in this innocence that resides our happiness. The more we are able to connect with it the happier we are.
As another year ends with my yearly “Secret to Happiness” movie I affirm:
I am a child of God, created in his image and likeness. I am brave enough to shine my true light. I am trusting enough to shine my true light. I am worthy enough to shine my true light. I am enthusiastic about the future and grateful for all that life holds for me. I am grateful for the light that shines within me.