NDM332 (3 Posts)

Serena was born in Florida, so going to Disney World was a regular part of her early childhood. Since then she has had an ongoing love affair with anything and everything Disney. It was only natural, therefore, that Serena and her husband (a fellow Disney fan) made it a goal to bring the magic of Disney into the lives of their children when they started their own family. Serena's children have been exposed to Disney since their days in the womb. After 14 years of marriage, Serena has never deterred from this path. Serena currently lives in Virginia as a graphic designer. She has many interests, including blogging, photography, video games, and psychology. She is no longer close to her beloved Walt Disney World. However, this has only served to sharpen some of her vacation skills, for now she has learned to pack a trip of epic proportions into an itty bitty week. It is no small feat, but Serena knows it is worth the effort when she sees her family enjoying the fruits of her labor. Seeing Disney through her children's eyes has helped her find a new level of joy, and it is why she goes back to Disney again and again.

Photo credit: Serena Skretvedt

In case you haven’t noticed, life is pretty complicated these days. It goes by fast, making us run after it, trying desperately to keep up. We turn to the experts for help, who tell us to simplify, de-clutter, refocus, spend quality time, look at the big picture, thin down, shape up, get outside, spend more, save more, read more, BE more.  And despite all our best efforts, we end up drowning in the well meaning advice of those trying to help us.

Does it really have to be so complicated? Weren’t the “good ole days” good because they were simple? I have found basic, fundamental truths that have helped me keep my life clear and focused. And I bet you’d never guess where they came from. Okay, considering the title of this article, you could probably hazard a good guess – Disney movies.  Some may think just because they are animated, and geared mainly for young people, that it would be impossible for adults to find deeper meaning in them. I propose that everything (important) we really need to know to have a happy life, we can learn from a Disney movie.

Top ten Disney life lessons:

1- Toy Story 3 – Life is about change, so we might as well embrace the changes as they come.  The realization that time goes faster than we want it go was never more apparent to me than after I had children.  With every doctor visit, height chart, birthday, and school year that goes by, we are marking the passage of time in a way we never did before. That awareness makes the time seem to fly by even faster. The fact that our children will someday be grown and gone is a cloud hanging over every parent’s head.  Change can be good for us though, and moving on to another stage in life is healthy. Even if it means the relationships with those we love will be different, it doesn’t mean we won’t still be there to support each other every step of the way.
“If nothing changed, there’d be no butterflies.” –Walt Disney

3- Meet the Robinson’s It’s okay to fail, as long as we keep moving forward. We really have a problem with failure- we do everything within our power to avoid it. We will turn down opportunities and stop ourselves from taking risks because we are afraid of failure. But as they bring out in the movie, “From failure, you learn. From success, not so much.” We need to remind ourselves to view failure as part of the journey, chalk it up to life experience and move on. That’s the important bit though – keep moving forward. That’s something Walt did better than anyone.
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney

4- Peter Pan We don’t have to grow up. At least, not if it means that we forget what it’s like to be a kid – the magic and joys of childhood. That’s something we can hang onto no matter how old we are. Have fun. Laugh. Tickle somebody. Play a game. Go on, it’s good for you. Be in the moment, and just enjoy it. It’ll keep you young.
“Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” –Walt Disney

5- Tarzan True love is colorblind. It doesn’t see race, color, age, or any superficial things. We don’t have to share a gene pool with people to become a family. That’s a wonderful thing, since everyone needs family – people that they know will be there for them no matter what. When we decide to bring someone into our life and love them like family, amazing things can happen-for us and for them.

6- Beauty and the Beast Never let other people’s expectations define you.  People will always have opinions about who you should be and what you should do with your life. We can’t allow ourselves to be limited by the stereotypes that people make for us.  Living life based on pleasing others will only lead to frustration and unhappiness. But if we have the courage to stick to our own values, we can find the life we are meant to lead
The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.” –Walt Disney

7- The Incredibles Don’t assume you have to look outside your family to find happiness. Sometimes we feel in a rut. The routine of each day just wears us down, and we feel frustrated with our life. Let that be a message that it may be time for a change. When we feel this way, we can’t shut out those in our family – they need to know how we’re feeling. Together, you may be able to rekindle some old sparks that you didn’t know were still there. Being honest about how we’re feeling gives everyone a chance to be a part of whatever change or help needs to come. Taking that journey as a family is going to bring you closer together, and maybe even remind you why you like to be around them in the first place.

8- Tangled Don’t let other people’s bitterness at life change the way you view the world. Let’s face it – there are some people in this world who can’t seem to catch a break. The reasons for it vary, but the fact is that life isn’t kind to everyone. Some people develop a bitter view of the world over time, dwelling on the negative, hurtful things in life. They tend to be suspicious of people’s motives and assume the worst. Maybe they have good cause to be that way, maybe they don’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we don’t allow ourselves to soak up that cynical viewpoint.  It will hold us back from taking advantage of the positive things in life.  We just might have to take a leap of faith and believe that things will turn out all right. And you know what? They probably will.
When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” –Walt Disney

9- Tinkerbell Find your talent. Everyone has one. We are all born with something of value to give back to the world. The trick is figuring out what it is. We may have more than one, and our talent may change or grow over time, but it’s always there. Don’t waste time being jealous of other people’s talents. They are probably just as jealous of yours. And if you can find a way to use your talent to help others, even in some small way, it will bring twice as much joy back to you.

10- Up It’s never too late to follow your dreams. We spend a lot of time dreaming when we’re young.  As we grow older, the business of living can take all our time and attention, leaving little room for anything else. It’s important to take out those old dreams every once in a while, dust them off, and take ‘em for a spin. Don’t put it off for too long. Time doesn’t always give us a redo.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”– Walt Disney

Contributed by: Serena Skretvedt (NDM#332) Serena is the DDL Psychology, Sociology, and Photography Blogger.


  1. Thank you Serena for making me smile. Love the Disney life lessons and feel they are so true. There are so many things that we can all learn from them.

  2. I love this! Disney has taught so many lessons about life. We talk a lot here about #3 here with the kids all the time, but llive by all 10 as best we can! 🙂

  3. I just wrote a post on my blog asking for suggestions to better manage stress. I’m thinkin I’m gonna go watch Beauty and the Beast again 🙂 Very well done post!

  4. I love Meet the Robinsons for all the reasons you stated. I wish more places put out that message like Disney did!

  5. At a time in my life when there are so many changes going on, this blog was so aptly timed. As much as I love Toy Story, I just never realized how important it’s message could be to me, especially at my age! This is really a GREAT post. Thank you so much, Serena. I am anxious to read your next one.

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