As the New Year approaches, it’s the perfect time to take a good long look in the mirror and ask ourselves: How can we be better men in 2014 than we were in 2013? How can we be more present to those around us, more of a mentor to our kids, more of a partner, more fulfilled in our careers and as human beings?
It’s a question Disney asks and answers through the circumstances and lives of so many movie characters. What those characters wind up learning can be of great inspiration to the rest of us. Here are 10 Disney movie characters that go through enormous personal crisis, spiritual change and growth, and the ways they can inspire our goals for ourselves.
1. Stay Chill. 1 of 8
Marlin's odyssey to find his son in Finding Nemo is also a personal odyssey of self-discovery. He learns things along the way from many characters, but what he learns from fellow dad Crush is perhaps the most valuable lesson of all: You have to balance protectiveness with encouraging kids to become independent, confident and strong.
2. Find Goodness Before You Seek Greatness. 2 of 8
Oscar Diggs of Disney's OZ the Great and Powerful wants fame and fortune but unfortunately doesn't care who he has to hurt in order to achieve them. His journey to the Land of Oz grants him both of those things, but also allows him to discover his own moral compass -- his goodness -- which proves to be the most powerful thing of all.
3. Accept That Children Change Our Priorities for the Better. 3 of 8
Russell Donovan of Disney's 1975 film The Apple Dumpling Gang is a gambler, a bachelor, and a smooth-talker. When three children suddenly show up in his life, he at first sees them as a nuisance and an impediment. It's when he allows himself to see how much they enrich his life that his previous goals come to seem shallow to him. Ultimately, his new circumstances compel him to become a better man.
4. Remember That Part of What Makes Our Kids Human is Their Flaws. 4 of 8
Geppetto, in Disney's 1940 classic Pinocchio, wants nothing more than to be a father, so he creates a son out of wood. Geppetto soon realizes that in order to be truly human, though, Pinocchio can't be perfect. He must make mistakes, lie, even cheat as all real human beings do. Geppetto's job is to forgive, and inspire him to do better.
5. All Work and No Play Makes Dad a Dull Boy. 5 of 8
Mr. Banks of Disney's 1964 Mary Poppins learns, by way of Mary's insight, that he's become a big bore and a pretty distant father and husband. Deciding to take his kids outside to fly a kite symbolizes a rediscovery of his own sense of joy and wonder, and providing those things in his childrens' lives makes him the best provider he could possibly be.
6. Treat Your Employees Well. 6 of 8
Scrooge McDuck of Disney's 1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol takes the life lessons found in Dickens' classic novel and makes them just a little quackier. The moral is the same, though, for him as for Ebenezer Scrooge. Pinching pennies reaps fewer rewards than truly looking after and caring about the needs of your employees.
7. Take Risks and Allow Room in Your Life for Miracles. 7 of 8
Charley Appleby of Disney's 1973 film Charley and the Angel, is a struggling hardware store owner during the Great Depression. He makes ends meet but has lost a sense of connection with his family and has lost his capacity to wish and dream. When an angel visits him, all that changes -- he throws caution to the wind, rediscovers who he is, and in the end lands his family a true miracle.
8. Don’t Let Your Own Fears Limit Your Kids’ Horizons. 8 of 8
King Triton of Disney's beloved 1989 The Little Mermaid has a hard time accepting that his daughter Ariel wants a life that's different from the one he wants her to have. When he allows her to be true to herself, follow her heart and her own inner passions, peace is restored in his kingdom and in his own life.