As Disney fans, we’re thankful for many things: catchy songs, happy endings, the existence of Disneyland. But we’re especially thankful for the Disney princesses and the things they’ve taught us. Here are some of the invaluable lessons we’ve learned from their stories:
1. It’s okay to be a beginner.
How often do we let the fear of looking foolish prevent us from trying something new, or exploring somewhere different? If you only do things you feel comfortable with, you’ll never do anything new. Think about Jasmine’s fearlessness in journeying outside her castle walls for the first time, and doing it alone. She trusted her ability to figure things out, and you should, too.
2. People who love you will not bring you down.
When you’re good at seeing the best in people, it can be hard to recognize if someone who’s supposed to be your friend is actually just bringing negativity into your life. The truth is that good friends won’t insult you, manipulate you, or make you feel badly about yourself. As Rapunzel learns with Mother Gothel, one of the best parts about growing older is realizing that you have the power to surround yourself with people who only have your best interests at heart.
3. Things are often what you expect them to be.
Your mindset is more powerful than you may realize. Remember when Snow White ran through the forest terrified and convinced there were monsters lurking around every corner? And after she calmed down, she realized they were just harmless woodland critters? If you’re determined to find monsters, you will find them—that’s guaranteed. And if you’re determined to find the light, it will rush into your life and drive out every shadow.
4. Learning to see things from others’ perspectives will make you wiser.
The temptation to automatically shut down other people’s arguments is never stronger than when you’re convinced that you’re right. The thing is, if you give in to that temptation, it doesn’t matter how right you are; you’ll never be able to win people over to your side. Elinor wouldn’t listen to Merida’s argument against getting married, because she felt like Merida wasn’t understanding what she was trying to say, and vice versa. People have to feel heard before they can change their minds.
5. No dream is too big for your current circumstances.
There was little likelihood that Cinderella would ever escape Lady Tremaine’s tyranny, much less marry the prince of her dreams. Yet it seems that no one ever told Cinderella that, because she kept right on dreaming, and it did come true. In your life, you will encounter plenty of people who tell you that you can’t have whatever it is you’re after, so don’t make yourself one of them.
6. Don’t seek anyone’s approval except your own.
Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the line between what will make other people proud and what will make you proud. Consider Pocahontas, who as the chief’s daughter and potential wife of Kocoum, pretty much had it made in the eyes of everyone who knew her. Pocahontas didn’t care about their standards, though; she knew choosing the “smoothest course” wasn’t what she wanted. You’re the one who lives most closely with your choices, so make them for you.
7. Your limitations are a decision, not an intrinsic trait.
All of us walk around with a pretty clear idea of what we can and can’t do, and of what we are and aren’t good at. The problem is, once you’ve decided you’re not good at something, that mindset leaves you no room to grow in that area. For instance, Elsa internalized the idea that she was dangerous and couldn’t control her powers. That idea was actually what made her dangerous; as she and everyone learns, she can control them just fine. Whatever you feel is limiting you, works in the same way. The only thing that can limit you is yourself.
8. Maintain balance in all things.
Hard work is necessary to make your dreams a reality. But if all you’re thinking about is the future, you’re going to miss the beauty of everyday life and all the love you might find within it. Go ahead and work for tomorrow, but remember Tiana and “dig a little deeper” to embrace the present moment. Yesterday has already slipped away and you haven’t yet met tomorrow, so pause frequently to be grateful for what’s making you smile in the present.
9. Give everyone a chance.
Considering that he locked up both her and her father and had a terrible temper, Belle really had no reason to think that the Beast was anything other than a monster. Had she let that first impression be the only impression, she would never have seen who the Beast truly was and fallen in love. Always be open to seeing the best in people, and give others second chances to show their best selves.
10. Power is not just physical strength.
We are tempted to define ourselves by our physical abilities because they’re the easiest to see, the simplest to measure, and the most obvious to miss. The problem is that physical strength barely dips a toe into the ocean of what can make people powerful—there’s also courage, intelligence, kindness, and so much more. Mulan isn’t naturally fast or strong. She’s not a fast talker. She doesn’t have the charisma to immediately win people over. And yet, who can deny that she’s incredibly powerful? Her ingenuity, creativity, and bravery define her, not the list of what she can’t do.
11. Imagination will set you free.
Sometimes, for whatever reason, you find yourself stuck in a place that you don’t want to be. That’s okay, and part of growing is learning to appreciate beauty where you can find it. But pushing your own limits is also a part of growing, and that’s where imagination comes in. Aurora grew up in a cottage in the woods, and for 16 years never knew anything different, but that didn’t stop her from imagining meeting somebody “once upon a dream.” Your imagination is the tool you’ll use to build a life you love, so use it often.
12. There is such a thing as giving too much.
When you’re a dreamer who’s in love with the whole world, sometimes it’s easy to forget just how valuable you yourself are. Failing to properly realize that makes it possible to make mistakes like Ariel did by giving up something so central to who she is: her voice. Don’t dismiss or undermine your own value, even as you celebrate the things around you, and don’t focus so much on wanting more that you sacrifice the good things that are already yours.
13. Nothing’s more attractive than being happy.
We’re not just talking about the “romance” kind of attraction, either. We’re talking about that undefinable, yet unmistakable quality that makes certain people so much fun to be around. Think of the happiest people you know—aren’t they magnetic? Anna is a great example of this because her sense of humor, lightheartedness, and confidence in who she is makes her impossible not to love. You’ll attract good people to you if you focus your energy on being a good person. The light you shine will be impossible to ignore.
What lesson have you learned from a Disney princess? Tell us below!