13 Life Lessons From Movies and TV Specials

GrinchSantaAs the holidays were underfoot last month, all the classic Movies were played on TV. As I watched some of these, I realized that there were some great messages in these flicks. It got me thinking… What if a list was compiled outlining some great messages? What a great thing to share with others!

Have you thought about how holiday movies and TV specials can teach us how to live better and enjoy more happiness year-round? I am sure you have seen many of these (if not all) movies. These are some of the most important life lessons from a few old favorites and some other works that may be less well known.


“How the Grinch Stole Christmas”:

  1. Sing joyfully. Before he had his change of heart, singing was what the Grinch liked least of all. Surround yourself with the music of the season and sing along.
  2. Resist commercial pressures. The Grinch learned that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Focus on the true meaning of the holidays by sharing time with loved ones and looking for ways to make others happy.
  3. Let your heart grow bigger. Dr. Seuss suspected that the Grinch suffered from a heart two sizes too small. As soon as it grew three sizes larger he brought back the toys he stole, put everything right and got to love his new friends in Whoville.


“It’s a Wonderful Life”:

  1. Recognize that one person can make a difference. While the challenges around us can seem overwhelming sometimes, we all create our own environment. George Bailey leads a modest life, but he prevents good old Bedford Falls from turning into a sleazy Pottersville.
  2. Celebrate the potential to create better outcomes. With all the talk about “toxic” people, we may sometimes overlook the fact that we all possess a mix of constructive and destructive qualities. By appealing to the good in people, George helps them to succeed in every walk of life.
  3. Welcome help from others. As powerful as George is, he still needs Clarence, the angel, to help him through a rough night. Regardless of whatever weaknesses you possess, you can still serve as somebody’s angel if you’re willing to reach out.


“A Christmas Carol”:

  1. Teach old dogs new tricks. We may sometimes feel that our habits are too ingrained to change. Scrooge proves that a life of stinginess can give way to one of kindness even late in life.
  2. Pay attention to your dreams. We spend about one-third of our life sleeping. Put that time to good use by listening to what your dreams may be trying to tell you.
  3. Come to terms with your past. Recognize the unhealthy patterns that get between you and greater happiness. Scrooge’s greed cost him his first love. You may need to become more generous to transform your own relationships.
  4. Become more resilient. The Cratchit family remains cheerful in spite of their poverty. Tiny Tim appreciates his blessings even though he’s poor and crippled. If we bear our hardships with patience, we can protect our peace of mind.


I started to think about what other movies could some classic wisdom be pulled from. How about these?

Other Holiday Programs and Movies:

  1. Focus on others. Steven Spielberg’s cartoon, “Pinky and the Brain,” is about more than a laboratory mouse trying to take over the world. The friendship between the two mice shines through when Pinky writes to Santa saying it’s okay to forget about him and just give Brain what he wants.
  2. Work for world peace. The true story of the 1914 Christmas truce is captured in “Joyeux Noel.” If German, French and Scottish troops can call a ceasefire on one Christmas Eve, maybe we can all be more peaceful.
  3. Believe in Santa Claus. “Miracle on 34th Street” looks like it was ahead of its time in questioning consumerism. It’s also timeless in affirming the importance of faith. Plus, it may offer the best legal argument for believing in Santa Claus.

Many of us look forward to watching our favorite holiday movies and specials each year. It’s a great way to revisit their inspiring messages and share them with our children.

I will have to remember to re-publish this in 11 months when you can re-watch these movies and get in the holiday spirit while remembering to concentrate on the finer things in life!

This was fun! With all the movie watching (as well as binge-watching during the pandemic) maybe I will do another post like this from ‘regular’ movies!

What movie that you can think of, has some great lessons in it (maybe directly, or maybe not so direct) – leave a comment below and let me know!


  1. Kebba Buckley Button on January 6, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Paul, what a great article! I thought I was in trouble, when I saw your theme, but reading through, I realized I was actually familiar with all but 2 of the movies. To your list from It’s a Wonderful Life, may I add simply: There are good people everywhere. Look for them.

    A movie I found very inspiring was– are you ready?– Beverly Hills Chihuahua! It’s family friendly, decries vapid vanity and consumerism, champions friends teaming together, celebrates that each of us has our particular strengths, and also helps us believe the Scriptural truth: All things are possible. Thanks for a great piece.

    • Paul on January 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm

      Actually, Kebba, in most movies there is probably a good lesson you can learn from it (sometimes you have to look harder than others). Sometimes, it might be cliché and others it might be subtle.

  2. Jen on January 7, 2022 at 12:20 am

    Good points. I liked the ones in A Christmas Carol – my favorite version is the one with George C. Scott. I think most of the the children’s Christmas shows had life lessons. I know Charlie Brown’s Christmas special did. Enjoyed the topic.

    • Paul on January 7, 2022 at 12:36 pm

      A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott was the first version I ever saw, and I think that is my favorite version as well. Thanks, Jen.

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