Everyone loves movies, and a lot of people wish their life was just like one. Movies excite us, give us a chance to think, and they can even motivate us to live better lives. Well, you’re the main character in your life, and you’re filming your story right now. With the right mindset, you can use that philosophy to tackle whatever scene comes your way.
We are constantly looking for the best ways to stay productive and make things easier, but we forget about the most valuable tool we have: our imaginations. As we get older we forget how to “play”. We forget how to open our minds and hearts in order to make life more fun and exciting, and our imagination goes by the wayside. Grown ups can play too, and they can play in a positive and productive way.
Movies let us check our minds at the door and let our inner child play for a while. Long after the credits roll, the thrill of what we saw still lingers. We want that “movie magic” in our own lives. We want the romance, adventure and magic to carry over and make our lives more than the normal grind it really is. Well there’s a way you can carry it over, but you have to be willing to shift your mindset and play a little.
First and foremost, you need to have some confidence. Believe that your life is worthy of a film adaptation. You don’t need to puff up your chest like you’re the king of the universe, but it’s important you at least feel good enough about yourself that a movie about your life could be made. Now, remember, this is a mindset and not necessarily a reality. Would anyone actually want to make a movie about your life? Maybe not, but you should believe that you could make a movie about your life.
The main characters in movies and biopics have extraordinary, interesting lives. They encounter tremendous odds, yet they always manage to emerge victorious. In the same way, you have your own struggles and you’ve probably encountered your own fair share of plot twists. A good movie is unpredictable, just like your life. Tell yourself that your story is important, and tell yourself that no matter how bad things get, your life will at least be interesting. You’d be surprised how motivating it can be when you simply believe that you have a story tell.
On top of that, the star of the movie always knows their lines. That’s you, so act like it. Confidence comes from a lot of things: the way you move, how you make eye contact, but it also comes from how you talk. Many of us are afraid to be heard, so we cower and speak softly so nothing can hurt us. Well this is your movie! You know your lines perfectly because you’re writing the script as you go along. Nobody is looking at you expecting you to flub or forget your lines, so speak with confidence.
Move the scene forward and get your point across. If you feel like you need to say something, say it. It could be a line worthy of being featured in your film’s trailer, but you’ll never know if you hide behind silence. Don’t look back at what you said as something negative either. What looks like a mess up is actually nuance, and what looks like something stupid is actually some comedy to give dramatic contrast. You’re the main character, so how can what you say ever be wrong? A mistake here and there is required for you to get better, smarter and stronger in the long run. Believe what you’re saying and get the words out like you knew they were coming. Worst case scenario, it’s ok for your movie to have a blooper reel. Sometimes things just don’t go as planned and that’s OK. Laugh at yourself and shrug it off so you can look back at your blooper reel and smile.
Now, with a great story to tell, you also need a great soundtrack. What great movie doesn’t have a great soundtrack to accompany it? There are a few out there, but for the most part, the music can be just as important as the spoken lines themselves. Music motivates us and it’s even better at drawing out our emotions. Think of your favourite songs and, more importantly, think about why you love them. Maybe they’re tied to specific memories, or maybe they just have that certain something that moves you one way or the other. These songs are the soundtrack to your life.
Get creative and turn your soundtrack into playlists devoted to your morning routine or your drive home. Put together playlists that fit certain themes or emotions in your life. Maybe there’s a certain song for the sad scenes that helps you get all the tears out — it’s good to feel what you need to feel — or a song that always makes you happy no matter how many times you’ve heard it. Use the power of your favourite music to score your film. Maybe you even have certain songs that remind you of certain people, like a leitmotif. Eventually, the music can play in your head, and you’ll feel driven to move your story forward. Your boring morning routine is now a suspenseful, thought-provoking build up to a major scene. Your traffic-filled drive home is now a race against the clock in an epic car chase. Will you make it in time!?!
Movies do away with the monotony of real life. We don’t have to sit and watch people doing house chores or paperwork unless it’s in a montage. In film, the montage is used to show a bunch of stuff happening quickly over a short amount of time (usually with some upbeat music). Rocky’s training scene, the Breakfast Club running from Principal Vernon, Kevin Bacon teaching people to dance, etc. Well, we all have monotonous things to do, but they don’t have to drag you down.
Start thinking of your monotonous tasks as something to montage. Play some music, or sing a tune yourself and get busy. Imagine that you’re chipping away at your work in quick, fun cutaways while the time is flying by. In no time, you’re boring busy work will be complete and you can look back at it with a positive light. Did you just do your taxes or did you just destroy your taxes while an ’80s tune — and some slapstick comedy — blasted you through it. It’s all about a different mindset. You have to do the work so you might as well have some fun with it.
But not everything is boring busy work, and life can throw some pretty big moments your way. Good or bad, look at these events as scenes that have a beginning and an end. By doing so, you can convince yourself that what’s happening right now will eventually pass. Maybe it’s something good, for example:
- Beginning: You just got a promotion and you’re very happy about it. You tell people about it, you celebrate a little, and you jump in the air for a freeze frame.
- End: Now it’s time to work. You let the excitement carry you into your new position and you keep moving forward. What, did you think you were done? There’s still a lot of scenes to shoot.
But it can feel like the more of the big moments in our life are a little tougher:
- Beginning: Your significant other has left you. You’re sad and a little angry. You cry and wander around downtown in the rain for a little, collecting your thoughts, while some slow piano plays.
- End: You jump off your couch determined. You have a quick montage of working out and you start showering again. You’re out at a bar with some friends and you catch someone across the way smiling at you.
It’s all about learning to move forward, no matter what has happened. Get those scenes “in the can” and look ahead. Whether you’re experiencing failure, loss or victory, the show must go on. No movie is made entirely of one scene with the main character crying and moping about, or one scene where the main character just smiles happily counting his money. Next scene. What’s next in the story? It’s up to you. Don’t you want it to be fun to watch? You’re the main character and you should be rooting for yourself! Everyone else watching already is.
In a movie, the stakes are always raised to the max. The fate of the company, city, country, world, galaxy or universe rests in the hands of the main protagonist. Well, in your life, that’s you. If you don’t get that work project in on time, is it really the end of all time and space? No, but you should approach it that way anyway. At least, approach it that way in a fun, imaginative way. You don’t want to over stress yourself by actually believing failure is the end of everything — because it isn’t — but what you do want is that motivation that movie heroes encounter. So find a way to play:
- “If I don’t pick up that dry cleaning today I won’t be able to get to that secret map stashed away in my jacket pocket.”
- “I need to pick up groceries before the monsters in my basement get too hungry and start searching for other sources of food…”
- “I need to exercise or the zombies will get me because I’m not fast enough.”
- “I need to get over to the bank and take a look at all the camera angles for my next heist while I deposit a check.”
You get the idea. It’s OK if you feel a little silly, nobody else needs to know it but you. No one is going to approach you while you’re running and make fun of you for preparing to escape zombies. Raise the stakes on your own and make everything matter in a fun, but exciting way.
Another important part of every movie is the supporting cast. The protagonist rarely gets through their story alone, so think about the important people in your life. Remember that there are people around who want and can help you when the going gets tough. Sometimes the reason things don’t go well for the main character is because they ignore their support network.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your supporting cast. Sometimes, it takes a team of heroes to take out the bad guy, not just the main character. Ask yourself who you would give an Oscar for best supporting actor or actress. Thank the people in your movie, and show gratitude when they’re willing to play their parts.
Last but not least, believe that your story will come to a satisfying close. You don’t need to dwell on thoughts about the end of your life, but live each scene like eventually there will be that moment when the conflict is resolved and you leave the theatre pleased with how it all turned out. It may not be the actual case — tragedy is an unfortunate reality — but you should play out your scenes like the final act is going to be epic, beautiful, and worth the long treacherous trip you took to get there. Movies are only so long, so use up every frame as best as you can.
If you do your best and try to have a little fun, when the credits finally roll, and the film strip starts to spin off its reel, whoever was watching will set down their popcorn and say “Damn, that was a great movie…”