A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer: an easy guide to identifying
psychiatric illness. For the first time since the release of the first edition of the DSM and other books on psychiatric diagnosis, you, the therapist, teacher, student, non psychiatric medical professional, parents, employer, business owner, etc., will be
able to identify psychiatric problems and presenting psychiatric issues in the general population with my easy to use, easy to read book, A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer. Although the book is not intended to turn you into a professional psychiatric diagnostician,
you will have the knowledge at hand to recognize and identify individual psychological issues and problems. No matter who you are, professional or layperson, the ability to recognize psychiatric problems and issues is now at your fingertrips. A Psychiatric
Diagnosis Primer: an easy guide to identifying psychiatric illness will assist you in any environment, professional or personal, and help you to recognize and understand the behavior of those around you. Even if you decided to skip the introduction of my book–
please do not skip the Warning in the front of the book–you will quickly understand my simple and easy way to use A Psychiatric Diagnosis Primer: an easy guide to identifying psychiatric illness/2004.
10 different reasons for breakups. The most
common reason was that the couple had different levels of attachment to each other. Other reasons included differences in personal values, long distance, having a third person in the relationship, incompatibility of temperament, different level of engagement
in the relationship, different expectations and needs, disagreement of the parents, lacking sufficient time to be with each other. The interviewees together reported 18 different types of emotional disturbances. The most common one was the feeling of emptiness
from breakups. Other reasons, selectively, included guilt for proposing the breakup, anxiety from the inability to concentrate, anger and desire for revenge, anxiety from the disordered life after breakup, alienation from the other sex, pressures from parents,
fear for the next possible relationship, sadness and perplexity for not knowing what caused the breakup, low self-esteem, etc. The paper offers a detailed analysis about each interviewee’s experience of identification, catharsis, and insight while he/she
viewed the movie. Table 1 summarizes the emotional disturbances and the movies shown to have corresponding emotional healing efficacy to the viewers.
Table 1. Interviewees’ Emotional Disturbances and Movies with Emotional Healing Efficacy Interviewee
Reasons for breakup and types of emotional disturbance Movie title
A Breakup reason unknown, long distance; perplexity and sadness (My BlueberryNights)
B Different levels of attachment, long distance; guilt for proposing the breakup (Before Sunrise)
C Disagreement of parents; dejection and sadness (Le Divorce)
D Different levels of attachment and needs, breakup reason unknown; perplexity, sadness, emptiness (High Fidelity)
E Different levels of attachment, having a third person in the
relationship; emptiness, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, restlessness The Most Distant Course
F Having a third person in the relationship; anxiety, restlessness, worriment, anger Under the Tuscan Sun
G Different expectations and personal values;
guilt from proposing the breakup, alienation from the other sex Where the Heart Is
H Different expectations and needs; emptiness, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger (500) Days of Summer
I Long distance and having a third person in the relationship;
emptiness, fear, worriment, anxiety, restlessness, anger The First Wives Club
J Differences in values, incompatibility of temperament, different levels of engagement; emptiness, anxiety, fear, restlessness, alienation from the other sex Music and Lyrics
K Different levels of attachment and engagement, having a third person in the relationship; anxiety, loss, anger, alienation from the other sex Before Sunset
L Different levels of attachment, incompatibility of temperament; sadness, anxiety The War
of the Roses M Different levels of attachment, different personal values and expectations, incompatibility of temperament, lacking sufficient time; guilt for proposing the breakup, restlessness, fear for the next possible relationship Prime
levels of attachment; guilt for proposing the breakup, sadness, anxiety, loss
The list of initially selected movies English title Language Length (min.) Year of release
Funny Girl English 155 1968
The War of the Roses English
Before Sunrise English 105 1995
The First Wives Club English 104 1996
Where the Heart Is English 120 2000
High Fidelity English 113 2000
Unfaithful English 124 2002
Under the Tuscan Sun English 113 2003
Le Divorce French/English 117 2003
Before Sunset English 80 2004
Prime English 106 2005
Brokeback Mountain English 134 2005
Sad Movie Korean 108 2005
Elizabethtown English 123 2005 The
Break Up English 113 2006
The Holiday English 135 2006
Music and Lyrics English 105 2007
My Blueberry Nights English 93 2007
The Most Distant Course Chinese 118 2007
The Love of Siam Thai 157 2007 (500)
Days of Summer English 95 2009
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Films that thrill us or make us laugh may impress mainstream audiences,
but the best releases are more than just entertaining on a surface level. These films teach important life lessons in addition to entertaining, the latter being a feat that some of the most reviled films ever made can’t even accomplish. The appeal of these superior films extends to a narrative subtext that has something worthwhile to say about human nature, society, and how we can become better people
over time. Of course, art forms like film are always subjective, and these messages will often dictate which films connect with various members of the audience, even on a subconscious level.
typically think of inspirational films in more traditional terms. Films like Dead Poets Society, Forrest Gump, and The Pursuit of Happyness make their messages explicit throughout, but even releases that one wouldn’t
expect to have something meaningful at its core often do. For this list, we’re focusing specifically on films that aren’t typically considered message driven but that keep their core lessons inherent to the story at hand regardless.
Don’t commandeer another culture — The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas | Source:
At first this Tim Burton produced stop-motion animated film may just appear to be a part cheery, part gloomy musical about a fantasy world in which every holiday has its own land. However, it’s really about the chaos that ensues
when even well-intentioned individuals try to interpret another’s culture and end up forcing their own perspective on the unsuspecting public. Give it another watch.
2. Families take all forms — Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Mrs. Doubtfire | Source: Fox
This one is perhaps the most blatant on this list, as Robin Williams’s character essentially spells it out in the film’s final moments. Nevertheless, seeing
as the film is often remembered as a wacky cross-dressing comedy and not one with so much heart behind it, we’re comfortable putting it on this list. The fact that the Chris Columbus film is largely family-friendly makes its message even more powerful.
3. Be honest with people you care about — Liar Liar(1997)
Jim Carrey in Liar Liar |
Source: Universal Pictures
Jim Carrey cannot lie in this Tom Shadyac comedy hit, but aside from the hilarity that ensues as a result, the film is really a commentary on how we all have to put up a front and adjust our behavior in certain contexts,
such as at work or when being pulled over by a police officer. Still, the film’s message — that we should be our open, authentic selves with the people we love, if no one else — is a worthy one that should be celebrated.
4. Open yourself up to new possibilities — The Matrix(1999)
Keanu Reeves in The Matrix | Source: Warner Bros.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) enters a dystopian future wherein machines have enslaved the mind of humanity, thanks to a virtual reality program that keeps mankind firmly in the dark about the nature of reality. There’s plenty of thematic juice in
this Wachowski sci-fi classic, but the most basic message is one that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) teaches Neo early on. Keep your mind open to new possibilities, and don’t be complacent with your humdrum life. “Free your mind.”
5. Understand your own mind — Memento (2000)
Guy Pearce in Memento | Source: Newmarket Capital Group
Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece purports to be a neo-noir mystery about a man with severe memory problems (Guy Pearce) who aims to solve his wife’s murder. However, the film’s final moments reveal a remarkable twist that calls into
question our own understanding of ourselves and the world around us, encouraging viewers to strive for a better sense of self-awareness regarding our own thoughts and behavior.
6. We’re stronger together — The Incredibles (2004)
The Incredibles | Source: Disney/Pixar
For an animated film, the theme behind Brad Bird’s beloved tale of a family of super-powered individuals doesn’t necessarily break any new ground with
its message of unity within a family unit. Nevertheless, the central device — which uses a superhero story to break down themes of infidelity, isolation, and trust — is so expertly well done that few family films since The Incredibles have
reached its level.
7. Respect yourself and take responsibility — Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim
vs. the World | Source: Universal Pictures
Edgar Wright’s film may have been a box office flop, but its cult following seems to understand that this adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comics has more on its mind than
spastic comedy and video game conventions. Michael Cera’s character has a lot of growing up to do and by battling the literal demons of his beloved’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) past, he finds that to be with her and earn inner peace, he must gain
the “power of self-respect” and learn to take responsibility for his actions. Deep stuff for a film with such an off-the-wall premise and tone.
8. Appreciate the present — Midnight in Paris (2011)
Marion Cotillard and Owen Wilson in Midnight
in Paris | Source: Sony Pictures Classics
In recent years, Woody Allen may not have offered as many masterworks as his early days, but this Oscar-winning story certainly fits the bill. Owen Wilson plays a struggling writer entranced
by the 1920s literary heyday of Paris. His passion for the era only grows when his nightly walks lead him inexplicably back in time. The film ultimately makes the point that people tend to romanticize the past at the expense of the present.
9. Don’t blindly chase perfection — The Lego Movie(2014)
The Lego Movie | Source: Warner Bros.
The fact that The
Lego Movie wasn’t a terrible film may have impressed audiences and critics alike. However, the film managed to be both a rollicking and hilarious adventure as well as a meaningful story about the dangers of pursuing perfection. Without delving
into spoilers, the film shares some thematic ground with darker tales like Black Swan and Whiplash, albeit with a far more optimistic and emotionally resonant outcome.
10. Anyone can be anything — Zootopia (2015)
Zootopia | Source: Disney
Frozen may have been a bigger hit, but Zootopia is the very best non-Pixar Disney animated film since at least The Lion King.
Aside from its visual design and sharp script, it’s the film’s message that elevates Zootopia. Early on, lead character Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) — a bunny with dreams of being a cop — states that “anyone can
be anything” and that message subsequently expands out into a rich social commentary that breaks down themes of discrimination, racism, and other social stereotypes in genius fashion. Quite the achievement.
Today’s post is different from the usual. We’re going into the topic of movies
— specifically, inspirational movies with meaningful life lessons to learn. Get some popcorn before you continue reading! 😀
To be honest, I don’t watch A LOT of movies. I do love superhero movies (think X-Men, Marvel movies) and romantic
comedies (Enchanted, Ever After, Anastasia) — the former for its good triumphing over evil and epic humanity-centered messages, the latter for the light-heartedness, humor, and romance. While they’re
not exactly in the “inspirational” genre, they are inspiring to me in their own way.
I’ve compiled a list of great inspirational movies with important life lessons to learn. The first part of the post features 13 films complete
with trailer, description, and my personal review if I’ve watched that show before. Following that is a simplified list of movies that didn’t make the top 13 but are worth checking out. As there are videos throughout this post, if you’re
reading this outside of the blog, click this link to see the full post.
I hate spoilers, so don’t worry — there aren’t any spoilers here. Read
without reservation! 😀
Not in order of importance.
1. Bruce Almighty
Bruce Almighty is a fun yet inspiring film with a meaningful message. It’s about a TV reporter (Jim Carrey) who constantly has bad
things happening to him. He complains that God is doing a terrible job — at which point God appears to him and offers him all his powers to see if he can do a better job. Along the way, he learns lessons that change his life.
On the whole I think the film can place greater focus on the life lessons — the humor tends to take over the film sometimes, possibly to cater to the mainstream audience. Great weekend film
to watch with friends.
I like the Peaceful Warrior and there are many meaningful messages scattered throughout the show. In fact, I’ve included several dialogue in the movie in my inspiring quotes series. Some of my favorites are:
“There is never nothing going on. There are no ordinary moments.”
“The ones who are hardest to love
are usually the ones who need it the most.”
“Death isn’t sad. The sad thing is: most people don’t live at all.”
“A warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability. He’s about absolute
vulnerability. That is the only true courage.”
While I agree with the overall message of the movie and I feel that there were some great moments (like the rooftop scene), I found the movie quite slow paced and predictable. When
I was watching, there were many times when “Socrates” (the guide) said something or revealed a lesson I already knew and already guessed he was going to say (in the same exact words too). I think a large part is because I already came to these
conclusions myself before, so I’m just not the right target audience for the movie.
That said, there’s definitely some good stuff in this movie, especially as evidenced by the rave reviews by others. If you’re feeling jaded, losing
their passion, or looking for a deeper meaning in life, this movie is a great starting point.
2. The Peaceful Warrior
A friend read my blog when I started it back in 2008,
and told me that I had to watch the Peaceful Warrior. He said that many of the things I talk about on PE are similar to the film’s messages. So he shared with me his copy of the movie and I watched it.
Based on Way of The Peaceful Warrior (book), the film features Dan, a student from U.C. Berkeley who has everything a college student could possibly want —
looks, fame, great friends, attention from every girl, and talent in his gymnastics, his passion. Yet he’s unhappy, deeply troubled, and has trouble sleeping at night. One night, he meets a guide and his journey of self-discovery begins.
The Family Man is a comedy drama about a highly successful, single investment banker (Nicholas Cage) who gets to experience how his life would have been if he made
a different decision 13 years ago (staying with his girlfriend rather than opting for a high-flying career). It’s a movie that presents a ‘what if I had done this instead?’ scenario and contrasts a life with great wealth
and success vs. a quiet family life.
It’s a great movie that gets you thinking about life, though I’m not in exact agreement with the implicit message that life has to be either/or — in this case, either wealth or
family, not both. It encourages people to justify not pursuing career/wealth goals because they have a family, or that they shouldn’t pursue love/ have a family because they’re busy with work. Both are achievable — it’s a matter of expanding our capacity, prioritizing, and planning.
What I do like is the film gets you thinking about what
you’re currently doing in life. If you continue what you’re doing today, where is it going to lead you? Would you have a lifetime of achievements and wealth, but no real friends or loved ones to speak of? Would you have lived a life conforming
to norms while never taking action on your goals? A life living for others but not for yourself? Would you be someone bitter at life and at the end of it yourself?
And would this be a life you want? If not, what are you going to do to change this
Forget the trailer/marketing which comes across as your typical Hollywood slapstick comedy. This really isn’t. At first it may seem like that, but halfway through you realize that there’s something deeper that the film is driving.
It gets you thinking about life’s moments and how each moment is no less important than another. IMO, it drives home the message that “every moment is a moment to be lived” more strongly than Peaceful Warrior.
really, really love this film and highly recommend this to everyone. There is this really moving scene near the end where I cry like crazy every time I watch it. A great plot with a provoking mesage, and humor injected throughout
the film to keep it light-hearted. I highly recommend you to watch it. Kudos to Adam Sandler too for his acting. 😀
Click is about a man (Adam Sandler) who receives a magical remote controller that allows him to rewind, stop, and fast forward through time. He uses it to skip past moments that he finds mundane/boring like family dinner,
shower, and sickness. Initially this seems fun, but after a while he realizes that it comes with unexpected consequences — which you have to watch to find out.
The Secret is a self-help film on the Law of Attraction and positive thinking. It’s more of a documentary, not a fictional film.
The Law of Attraction (LoA) refers to the idea that both your conscious and subconscious thoughts affect your outcomes in life. The Secret took the world by storm when it was released and has been featured on Oprah, The Ellen Show, Larry
King, among countless other mainstream media.
I watched The Secret when it first came out in 2006. At that time I was new to LoA, so learning about it from the show was intriguing. Later on I learned more about LoA from reading blogs
and came to appreciate it even more. Basically the concept of LoA synchronizes with many things I’ve come to conclude from my experience, so watching the movie was more like an affirmation for me.
After watching the movie, I felt more conscious than my usual self. Just watching this once once in a while can create an upward shift in your consciousness. Of course, don’t fall into the
trap of a self-help junkie — ultimately self-help is meant to accentuate what you’re doing, not replace action taking.
There are many LoA detractors who feel
that LoA is a hoax, but I think their criticism comes more from a misunderstanding of how LoA works. LoA isn’t about sitting back and expecting the world to change after you start thinking positive — it’s about thinking positive,
taking massive action to realize your goals, and then having reality manifest results because your thoughts and actions are in synchrony. On the other hand, someone who takes lots of action but keeps thinking negatively
is self-sabotaging because his thoughts and actions are not in alignment.
So this movie is a really interesting one. Forget that the reason behind the time loop is never explained, because that’s not the point. Forget that this movie is somewhat old (released
in 1993). Groundhog Day has deep messages that may elude you in your first viewing, and the interpretation depends entirely on who’s watching. The movie never actually discusses the lessons it’s trying to
drive — rather, they are meant to be implicitly observed and interpreted by you.
Without giving away spoilers, pay attention to Phil Connors’ reaction in every scene and how it changes as the movie progresses.
Also, notice how other people’s reactions change based on how he reacts. While Phil keeps reliving each day, you can see that his motivations and hence reactions change throughout the film as he realizes that he’s stuck
there no matter what.
What do you do when you have eternity to live? Does Phil ever break out of the loop? Watch and you’ll know.
Someone in a
forum likened Phil’s story with the path taken by most humans in life, where they are doomed to repeat certain problems until they attain the revelation to deal with it appropriately. Some likened it with the path of reincarnation,
where humans are made to live over and over again until they attain the necessary lesson and ascend in their path. I found both to be very fascinating interpretations that I agree with. In fact I wrote a post about recurring patterns, inspired
by Groundhog Day: Are You Facing Repeating Patterns in Life?
(By the way, it wasn’t specified in the film but Phil spends 10,000 years in the time loop. That’s
a LOT of time to be stuck in a loop!)
7. Groundhog Day
Groundhog Day is about an arrogant TV weather man (Bill Murray) who finds himself stuck in a time loop where he keeps repeating the same day over and over. The worse
part? He’s the only one who remembers the past day’s events — no one else seems to remember anything! At first he uses this time loop for personal gain. After a while though, he starts to evaluate his life and priorities.
The Bucket List is about
two terminally ill men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who cross paths in a hospital after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Through their treatments, they befriend each other. They decide to embark on a trip to fulfill their bucket lists — a
list of things they want to do before they die.
I have not watched The Bucket List before but I have read about the concept of the bucket list elsewhere. I personally embrace the idea of having your bucket list and have a
few posts on it:
I know it may seem silly that I’m putting a movie like Space Jam in this list but the winning point of the movie is really its simplicity. It drives home the values of determination,
persistence/never giving up, hard work, self-belief, and friendship. I love the opening which shares Jordan’s childhood scene with his Dad, after which it transits to present day Michael. I got goosebumps watching it. R
Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly is the perfect theme song for the movie.
There is a joke about piracy in the middle of the film (when Bugs and Daffy are in Michael’s house) which I lol-ed when I heard it. You have to watch to find out
what it is. 😀
9. Space Jam
I watched Space Jam when I was a kid and I continue to enjoy it today. It’s a classic. The story is simple — the bad guys (Monstars) ousts the good guys (Looney Tunes) in a game of basketball
at the beginning, after which the Looney Tunes go through arduous training to triumph in the end. Michael Jordan stars as himself where he is “kidnapped” by Looney Tunes to help them succeed.
The Lion King is an all-time classic and hands
down the best hand-drawn animated film of all time. Even with all the 3-D films released today — which are great in their own right — none of them comes close to matching The Lion King in terms of its authentic
feel. I remember the very first time I watched The Lion King was in the theaters, right when it got released. I was just 10 years old and my parents brought me and my brother out on a movie outing. Childhood memories! 😀
If you haven’t watched The Lion King before, please rent/buy/borrow a copy and watch it. I’ve probably watched it 6-7 times at least. I never fail to cry
during a key scene in the second quarter of the film. I continue to rewatch the film once every few years and continue to be moved each time, because the story just never gets old. It speaks of love, responsibility, courage, and strength.
Pay It Forward is about a young boy who creates a good-will movement, where he helps 3 people with something they can’t do themselves. The recipient
cannot return the favor and must “pay it forward” by helping 3 other people. The film starts off a little slow, but picks up mid-way. Three-quarters into the film, everything starts to fall into place and the ending is a tear-inducing one.
I like how the dots unexpectedly connect throughout the film. It’s a film of kindness, generosity, warmth, and gratitude.
If you feel like you’ve been down and out in life and just about had enough of it, you should check out this film. It’s based on Chris Gardner‘s
12. The Pursuit of Happyness
The Pursuit of Happyness is about a salesman (Will Smith) who undergoes defeats, challenges and hardship such as his wife leaving him,
being rendered homeless, etc. to secure a better living for his son. Throughout his journey, he never once gave up, and stood firm to his goals. The mood of the show is slow and somber, intended for the audience to experience more fully what the character
is going through. Besides determination, self-belief, persistence and going after our dreams, the story also speaks strongly of a dad’s love for his child.
This is the same movie that PE reader Fahad watched. Yes
Man! is about a bank employee (Jim Carrey) who kept saying no to everything in his life until an experience in a motivational seminar changes him to say Yes! to everything that comes his way.
How many times do you say no in life? Do you shut out opportunities without even realizing? Is it about time you say yes to things that come your way? This inspirational movie will get you thinking.
there are times when you DO need to learn to say no. Saying no to the things you don’t want, that don’t match up with your ideal life. My article here will teach you how: How to Say No To
Others: Your Ultimate Guide
— This movie is very interesting because the entire show is set inside
a car, and shows us what happens to a man as he drives from Birmingham to London, and the 36 phone calls he makes/receives. There is only one actor, Tom Hardy, while the other characters are “heard” through a phone.
a drama film that gives us look into a man’s life over a 2-hour car ride as he makes some of his life’s biggest decisions. While the setup may sound boring, there are actually some tense moments where you feel for the character. Worth a watch,
and gets you thinking about what you would do if you are ever put in a morally grey circumstance.
– A science-fiction drama about a
man who develops a relationship with his intelligent computer operating system. While this sounds bizarre, it’s not that bizarre when you watch it (but there’s one sexual scene that will probably weird many people out though). It makes
you question what makes a relationship a relationship, and also question the typical societal definitions of a relationship (must it be monogamous? must it be physical? etc.). At the end of it, you also wonder if a connection is truly what human
beings should live for, or if they are simply outlets to help us grow as we evolve to our next life phase.
It’s about a corporate “downsizer” who travels around the world helping companies lay off people. His life philosophy is about being non-commitment – detaching oneself from things, locations, and especially relationships. Through the
course of the film, he meets people who gets him thinking otherwise. This film didn’t resonate with me much, though I’m putting it here as there have been many rave reviews of it.
– This film is “inspiring” in terms of how it is produced and also the lessons, albeit sad ones, that can be learned. This is not a “happy” or “positive”
film by any means — it’s a psychological thriller, but not your typical kind.
is about a man with anterograde amnesia (a condition where the brain can’t store new memories) who seeks to find justice
for his wife’s murder.
I don’t watch thrillers, but a friend recommended this and I was very impressed after watching. For one, Memento is a smart film executed in a very unique way. The film’s events unfold in two separate,
alternating narratives — one in color, and the other in black and white. The black and white scenes are told in chronology, while the color scenes are in reverse chronology. By the time the film ends, both narratives converge to shed light on the investigation.
There are different takeaways depending on the viewer. For me it speaks of how people put themselves in a state of self-denial and self-created fantasies, and because of that they pursue a hollow life, putting themselves in pain/anguish. Again, not a “happy” kind of film, but a film to watch if you like thrillers or you’re looking for a serious movie.
– Another “sad” serious film. This is a movie of a man who desperately
goes back in time to try to change the future for the better, with unexpected consequences each time. The butterfly effect is the phenomenon whereby one little action (the flutter of a butterfly) magnifies over time into a huge effect in the long-run (think
along the lines of a tornado).
I only watched this movie once because the show is overall very depressing. However, it does have an important message. Many people often wonder, What if I did this? or What if I did that? The
point is, we can’t change something without affecting something else in our life. Every decision we make comes with its downsides and upsides, and it’s our role to make the best out of the outcome, rather than regret and wish we did something else
as it’s already in the past. Looking backward prevent us from truly living our life. In the film you can see the character oblivious to everything that’s happening in the present because he is too busy trying to go back in time to change
things. I won’t spoil the show for you — watch the film and see the outcome yourself.
This is part of the Inspiration & Motivation series. Check out the other articles in the series:
FOMO — or the fear of missing out — has become a pattern in today’s world. We are constantly on our phones, glued to social media feeds and checking
what other people are up to. The more updates we see, the more anxious we feel. We see people living this exciting life, achieving this new milestone, doing that exciting activity. We feel like we are missing out, that we are not living a good enough life,
and we have a compulsion to keep up.
So we keep up… buying, keeping up, and absorbing as much information and updates as we can. And this addresses our anxiety… or does it?
Can you relate? Well, today’s episode is just for
you. 🙂 In this episode of The Personal Excellence Podcast, I cover
If you've found The Personal Excellence Podcast useful, I'd really appreciate it
if you can leave a good rating and review on iTunes. Your review does make a difference and it will help the podcast to grow and spread the message of conscious living to the world. Thank you!
of Missing Out [Transcript]
Celestine Chua: You’re listening to The Personal Excellence Podcast, the show that’s all about helping you be your best self and live your best life. I’m Celestine Chua, your host
and founder of PersonalExcellence.co. Let’s get started!
Hey everybody. Welcome to The Personal Excellence Podcast! This is Celestine Chua from PersonalExcellence.co. Today we’re talking about the fear of missing out,
otherwise known as FOMO.
Have you heard the term FOMO before? I’m sure some of you have. But if you haven’t, FOMO refers to the apprehension that one is not in the know, or one is out of touch with some event, experience, or
interaction. This compels the person to constantly want to know what’s going on, what’s happening out there, and whether they’re missing out on something.
In today’s world, FOMO exists on some level in many of our
social media habits and online behavior — even if you don’t realize it. This is why I want to discuss this topic today because I feel that FOMO has become such a prevalent issue.
Some Signs You Have FOMO
Some signs of having FOMO
Continually refreshing your social media newsfeed to see what’s going on, what’s the latest update, and the new things that people are discussing right now.
Feeling the need to know what so-and-so people are doing.
This can include the people in your social network. It can also include the people you don’t know, such as celebrities or famous people.
The constant feeling that you’re not satisfied with your life, and because of that you keep looking
outward at what others are doing.
Feeling that perhaps you are not doing enough.
So as opposed to enjoying your time right now with the people you are with and the life you have right now, you are constantly checking and seeing what
others are up to, because you feel that otherwise, you may be missing out.
Why FOMO is Unique to Our Era
I feel that FOMO is a phenomenon that’s unique to our digital era. FOMO as a term was coined in 2003 and it was added to the Oxford
English Dictionary in 2013. That’s just a few years ago. So why is FOMO unique to our era?
Imagine in the past, way before the internet was invented. Say it’s a Friday night and you just finished work. What do you do?
would read a book. Perhaps you would do some simple activities. Maybe you like to knit so you knit. Maybe you watch a video of your favorite movie. Or you have a quiet conversation with a loved one. So you do that and you sleep. And you could be feeling pretty
satisfied with your Friday night, doing something that you like.
Nowadays, everybody is connected. You can see what anybody is doing and everyone’s updates. With the Internet today, typically what happens is this: It’s Friday night.
You could be browsing your social media newsfeed and your Instagram newsfeed.
You see this professional coach or guru going to some event, achieving some new level of success, getting this new interview, living the high life.
Or you see
this celebrity, this person partying at some gala event, living in some mansion, doing some new photoshoot, or having some brand new product launch.
So you could be excited and feeling satisfied with your Friday night, reading a book, knitting,
talking to a loved one, whatever it is. But now you are left feeling like you’re boring and lousy because you’re not doing all of these things that these “exciting” people are doing. And that, in essence, is FOMO.
for Fear of Missing Out
I see FOMO as the result of a few factors.
1) Prevalence of Fast-Speed Internet
First, the wide prevalence of fast-speed Internet. It’s incredibly easy to get information today. In the past, when the internet
was new, it was slow and we were on dial-up modem. Some of you guys may still be on dial-up.
But in the past, dial-up was the norm. Over the years, as the government, societies build up the infrastructure, high-speed internet became more easily
accessible and at a lower cost. Many people around the world have fast internet today.
So you can easily get information at the click of a button. With that, you can easily see what people are doing with the click of a mouse. What Brad Pitt is
doing right now, what Angelina Jolie is doing right now, what the Kardashians are up to. All this information, just easily accessible at the click of a button.
Because of that, you can instantly know what others are doing. This starts this whole comparison
cycle and behavior because now you can easily compare and put side-by-side what other people are doing and what you are doing. This starts to create a feeling of lack, a feeling of inferiority, that maybe you’re not good enough.
2) People displaying
a perfect version of their lives
The second factor would be people using the Internet to exhibit their best selves. Along the way (in the 2000s), the Internet became this platform where people get to share about themselves. But now, instead of people
sharing about themselves, people are using the Internet to exhibit a very manicured version of themselves. Sometimes this version may not even be true to reality.
So there’s a very heavy level of self-monitoring and self-altering behavior going
But now, instead of this being an issue isolated
to magazines (and the media), we have people everywhere on Instagram, Facebook, etc. editing the photos that they upload. Instead of it being an authentic moment — which it used to be, where people were genuinely sharing what they were doing as part
of connecting with others — now it’s become a situation where people are sharing very edited, manicured, and perfected versions of what’s going on in their lives.
So they could be living their day and essentially
doing mundane activities — as with most people living their lives. Some of the things they’re doing will be mundane and usual, nothing to shout about. Then they have this one hour when they are doing something exciting, and then they will take
some pictures of that and edit that, make them perfect, add filters, and so on. And just highlight those moments.
When you have people everywhere doing this online, it creates this impression of, Oh this is what’s happening in everybody’s
life all the time. So I’m missing out! My life is not good enough! This creates a really skewed and warped sense of reality.
3) Existing social issues magnified by Internet
The third factor contributing to FOMO is there are
simply existing (social) issues that the Internet exacerbated. As opposed to the internet creating problems, I would say there were existing problems such as loneliness or low self-esteem.
The Internet, with the way it has brought the entire world closer and stripped away many boundaries, exacerbated this issue as we no longer have a strong sense of boundary or space. People who already feel lonely or low in self-esteem may feel more isolated,
while people who felt slightly lonely at times may have this feeling magnified in the presence of everyone else’s success and “exciting” life.
4) How today’s websites are designed
The fourth factor contributing to FOMO
is how companies have designed their websites.
To understand how this works, it boils down to this underlying principle. Essentially, most companies operate on profit. Well, the essence of a company is to be profitable because if you’re not profitable,
you’re out of the game.
When companies focus on profit as their sole objective — without regard for their audience and adding value to their lives — their number one goal becomes to maximize each user’s time spent
on their website. This is particularly true for platform companies like Facebook, Snapchat, Netflix, Instagram. The more time you spend on their site, the better it is for them, the more advertisers they can get, the more revenue they can get.
What’s the best way to maximize the time spent? By maximizing interaction, maximizing the number of engagements you (as the user) have on their site, be it by making you click from one place to the next within their site. Whatever keeps
you within the site and gets you clicking, interacting, commenting, and spending as much time as possible on the platform itself — whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat, or Netflix — even if it’s to the point of detriment of
your well-being, your productivity, or the utility value you’re getting from the website.
This is particularly so when a company starts to focus on profit and what it gets off its user base rather than having the users’ best interests in
mind and designing its services around them. This is where profit supersedes value — where companies focus on profit rather than giving value, as opposed to creating value as the
priority and earning profit as a result of that.
So platforms are now creating site designs to build addiction. We have Facebook — or any of these large attention companies really — having large teams of growth hackers, where
their sole job every day is to get together to discuss, find ways to hack your brain, and figure out how to break down your mental barriers, so that you’re constantly glued to their platform. Getting you to stay on their site, making you
feel compelled to come back, and making you feel, Oh I’m missing out if I’m not coming back to the site. I’m missing out if I’m not clicking this notification.
So it could be
Facebook popping up a message
and saying, “You haven’t been here for a while” or “You haven’t posted on your page for a while. Do you want to interact with your followers (if you have a Facebook page)?”
Snapchat. They introduced a streak feature
in the past couple of years where they encourage you to continue this streak of messaging someone consecutively each day or over a period of days, so that you can maintain the streak.
Some of these are questionable. Because, okay, Snapchat has
this streak feature to message this number of times or this frequency with someone. But does this help forward your relationship with that person or help you live a better life? These are questions to ask ourselves.
So we have these companies coming
up with all kinds of strategies. Many of them implicit — you don’t know they are happening unless you take a step back to think. Or unless you run a website yourself, where you become conscious of these issues. Ultimately, they are
there to suck you in. To get you addicted. To make you feel like you’re missing out. Hence, the feeling of “missing out.”
So you constantly refresh your social media feeds to see what you are missing out. You feel, Okay!
When I refresh and the thing is loading in my browser, I’m doing something with my life. Something is happening and I’m seeing all these updates! The page is now loaded, you see this barrage of new updates. Okay! Now I feel marginally
fulfilled. Then 30 seconds later, you are back doing the same thing, loading the webpage and seeing the next wave of updates.
Social Media Updates — Junk Food for the Brain
All these are very much what I call, junk
food for the brain. It’s like you eat junk food, and maybe for a few seconds, you feel satisfied. After a while though, you feel, Hey I need more!Like, This is not satisfying me.
Why is that? It’s because these
little pieces of updates are inherently not satisfying or nourishing. Junk food is not nourishing for our body. Media news sites and the attention companies, or any of these websites using these strategies to maximize attention and it can include
content mills with very low-quality articles, designed to make you click from one thing to the next — these are junk food for the brain.
When you have all this junk food content and you’re consuming it, the quantity may be huge and there
may be many pieces of such content everywhere. But because it’s not nourishing for the brain, you have to keep clicking and refreshing and returning just to keep this “nourishment “going. Because it’s so ungratifying,
you’re not being fulfilled, and hence you need to do it so many times.
Compared to if you are reading a piece of high-quality content, you can be just reading a short amount and that’s food for thought. There’s something you have gained,
that makes you think for the next few days.
So these four factors contribute to the phenomenon of FOMO. Even in the online business world, FOMO has created the shiny object syndrome. Where you feel this need to constantly buy that next app, that next
plugin, that next web service, hoping that you’ll create that next big breakthrough in your business. I’ve shared before in an article on the magic bullet — there’s
no secret sauce or magic thing that’s going to transform or create some huge results. Ultimately, it’s back to the same fundamentals and it boils down to
the strategy that you use and how you approach your business.
5 Strategies to Tackle FOMO
So how can you tackle FOMO? I have 5 strategies.
1) Stop comparing yourself to others
Stop comparing. I know it is difficult because all
this information about people’s lives is everywhere, and social media companies have made it so easy for us to access this information. When you come online, you have all these companies hungering to grab your attention, even if it’s to the
detriment of your productivity. You have all these companies fighting and eliciting you to, “Come and click, come and click over to my website.” It becomes really difficult because you are fighting all these forces: the macro forces and also the
internal force in you, where perhaps there is a sense of dissatisfaction or feeling that, Okay, maybe there’s something out there that I need to know.
So I know it’s difficult, but it is important to stop this behavior
from within. This can include limiting your social media usage and controlling the way you use social media which I’ll talk about in tip #3.
With regards to not comparing, two episodes back I talked about our
unique path in life. In that episode, I talked about how everybody is on a unique path. You are on your unique path. I am on my unique path. We are all on our unique paths in life. Don’t feel like you need to compare because
perhaps you’re not making the best of your life.
Sure, you can benchmark. Benchmark meaning you reference and look at what others are doing as an indication of what you could be doing.
But don’t compare in that you keep looking
towards what other people are doing as the reference point for where you should be. Because we are all different. We all have our unique paths. We have our individual aspirations, our individual paths to realize.
You can be the fastest swimmer
on Earth. If you keep looking at the bird in the sky and wondering why you can’t fly, you’re just putting your God-given talents in swimming to waste. This is the same between the bird and the swimmer. The bird can be in the sky flying,
with the ability to fly and soar, but instead, it looks at the fish in the sea and wonders why it can’t swim.
So the fish gets to explore the wonders of the marine world. The bird gets to explore the wonders of the sky. Everybody is on their individual
path to self-actualize and self-realize, and this path may not be comparable in many instances because it’s just unique.
Unfortunately, we live in a society right now with the tendency to diminish and condense people to a metric, and try to simplify
human worth or value to some number or statistic. But there’s something for you to keep in mind: We are not statistics and we should not be condensed to a number. Even if society or government or media tries to do that to us, we are not that. Each of
us is unique and we are unique individuals on our unique path to contribute and create massive value to the world.
Always remember that and don’t compare yourself to other people. Don’t try to alter yourself or shape your life so that it
looks like other people’s lives, because you have your life and you are your unique individual, and it’s about embracing that.
2) Fill your schedule with meaningful activities
My second tip is to fill your schedule with meaningful
Quadrant 2 activities. I talk about this in my article Put First Things First. It refers to the activities, tasks, and goals that are the most important in your life, but not
necessarily the most urgent.
Why aren’t they the most urgent? That’s because the most important things in our life rarely become urgent until it’s too late. They include our health, our relationships, our biggest life
aspirations. Fill your schedule with meaningful Quadrant 2 goals or tasks, whatever they may be. This requires you to take a step back to really think, reflect, and ask yourself:
What are my Quadrant 2 goals?
What are my most important life goals?
For those of you with Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program, many of the tasks (especially in Week 1) are about
goal setting. Assessing your life right now. Identify what is your ideal life, your ideal goals. Creating a life map and your vision board. And so on. All the 30 tasks in the program are meant to get you to think about the different Quadrant 2 aspects of your
life. For those of you with the program, review the tasks inside, and start thinking about your Quadrant 2 goals.
When your life is exciting and filled with meaningful Quadrant 2 activities, you will automatically not be interested or very interested
to see what other people are doing. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know what others are doing. To do that would be to isolate yourself from the world and that is just swinging from one end to the other. But you won’t have this constant
or unhealthy compulsion to keep seeing what other people are doing and filling your life with this filler information. Because you are living your life. These Quadrant 2 activities could be, say, being with your parents. Having a meal with them. Being with
your loved ones. Social activities. Volunteering work.
One of my recent coaching clients went on a six-week volunteer trip in Taiwan. He’s from Australia. He was in this rural village at a homestay, taught at a rural school, and ran some conferences.
From this trip, he gained so many insights about his future goals, what he wants to do for the next 10 years and beyond, and what he wants to do as his life direction. That’s because the work was inherently fulfilling and it was something that he
was personally interested and passionate about. Pursuing and doing this gave him insights on what he would want to do in the future. That was a huge Quadrant 2 activity. He could have spent these six weeks in a frivolous way or just doing nothing —
which is fine too because sometimes relaxing or taking time out for ourselves is important. But he could have just wasted six weeks away. Instead, he used it in a meaningful way, in his own definition. That helped him gain so much insight on what he wants
to do for his long-term goals, his 10-year goals, and his future life direction.
Quadrant 2 activities can also include exploring a new place you haven’t been to before. Learning a new skill. Doing something you like, whatever it is.
fill your schedule with these meaningful activities, as opposed to filling the entire day with refreshers of your social media newsfeed or what Kylie Jenner is doing. Ultimately, this won’t fulfill you. But taking action on your personal goals in life? That’s
going to fulfill you.
3) Cut down on social media usage
My third tip is to cut down on social media usage. I mentioned just now that the Facebook newsfeed is like fast food for the brain. Tickles you and keeps you busy. May taste well in the
first bite. May even make you think that you’re satisfied. But there’s nothing much there and it will ultimately kill you in the long run.
That’s why people need to keep refreshing and seeing their newsfeed so regularly. Because it’s
inherently not fulfilling. That’s why they need to keep seeing it over and over and over again, hoping that it will bring a different result each time — except that it doesn’t. It’s not much different from pulling the slot machine at
the casino. In fact, many elements of Facebook and a lot of these leading social media sites today are designed with reference to the addictive elements of a casino or gambling dens.
To avoid being in this negative spiral, limit the time
you spend on social media. Think about it: when you are in Facebook — and I’m using Facebook as an example, but it can be any website with the agenda to maximize a user’s attention without taking into consideration their personal
goals and life. So you could be in Facebook’s “walled garden,” and this is a common term used to describe the way Facebook has designed their site. It’s like a “walled garden,” to keep you inside their universe and
away from the outside world. Once you step into Facebook’s “walled garden,” it becomes an uphill battle to gain control of your conscious self and you have lost the game. Because now you’re up against this seemingly innocuous but very
meticulously and strategically designed website, designed to suck you in and get you to stay there as long as possible.
The best way to avoid this is to limit the time you spend on social media. 30 minutes, 10 minutes, I don’t want to set a specific
time limit because it depends on why you are using social media, whether there’s something you need to get out of the site at the moment. It could even be not using social media on some days. So it is subjective. But the underlying principle is
to limit the time you spend on social media. Because when you step inside, you’re going up against 100 or 1000 different strategies put in place to suck you deeper and deeper into the site. Because all of us have a limited amount of mental energy per
day, it becomes a downward spiral. It very quickly drains you, and soon you find yourself in this loop where you are just refreshing and seeing the next new update and so on.
So, limit the time you spend. And remove notifications except
for crucial ones or for crucial apps. Most websites and mobile app notifications today, they’re useless. They don’t serve a role in our life except to get you to go back to the app. They don’t tell us about anything important
or significantly urgent. You can check these apps once in a while, whenever you remember to. But there’s no real need to have notifications alerting you every single time someone messages you or some update is rolled out. This is a call that you make,
but I personally feel that most notifications today don’t have a role and they are not really useful.
4) Stop following people who promote an unhealthy lifestyle
My fourth tip is to stop following people who promote an unhealthy lifestyle.
Again this requires you to be conscious of how you are using social media and how you’re approaching your Internet usage. Take a step back and evaluate the people you follow and the kind of lifestyle and messages they promote. This includes people on
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, websites and so on.
As you are doing that, ask yourself:
How do you feel when you see the updates?
Do you feel inspired or do you feel bad or negative about yourself?
Does it make you feel like you’re not doing enough when you see these updates? And not in a good way but in a negative way?
Once I was following this guru. At first, it was interesting, seeing his updates. But
after a short period of time, it started feeling “off.” I realized that he was constantly talking about his achievements, and not in a once-in-a-while way. It’s fine to talk about what you’re doing and what you’re achieving —
it’s fine to share that.
But his updates felt sort of like he was… bragging? It was constantly namedropping and talking about how he’s really awesome for having achieved certain things above and beyond other people. After a while
of seeing that, it started to become toxic. Because he created this feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, or maybe I wasn’t doing enough to build my business.
So instead of it being a positive experience, it became a toxic and negative one
where seeing his updates made me feel like somehow I wasn’t good enough or that I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t sure if it was just me, so I asked two other people who knew this person and both of them got the same vibe too. The overall
sense was an off-putting one. Looking at this person’s updates made me feel a great sense of FOMO.
After that, I stopped following this person because it was a negative experience all in all. I wasn’t getting any positive messages from it.
For me, as someone who has a platform and shares messages with my audience, I have a certain standard in the kind of messages I send out and the intention of my messages, and I felt like this person’s updates wasn’t congruent with what I expect
of my own platform.
Or it could be a totally different type of message. For example, you could be following people who promote a materialistic lifestyle or a way of life that is not very healthy or not in line with your values. If so, you want to limit
your exposure to these people. Maybe they are constantly getting you to buy things, buy material goods. Or showing off branded stuff or insinuating that somehow having certain branded
goods or possessing certain physical possessions validate yourself or a certain part of who you are… which wouldn’t be a message that you want to carry.
When you are exposed to and following these people, this would keep creating the FOMO
feeling. This fear that you’re missing out. That you are not buying this thing (but you should). That you’re not being good enough. That you’re not living it up. That would naturally perpetuate the feeling of FOMO in you.
with the people you follow, maybe they present a very skewed version of reality. Maybe they constantly photoshop images or present a very cherry-picked aspect of life. And this cherry-picked aspect is a little bit twisted and not accurate to reality. So
you’re no longer learning or seeing an authentic side of the world and people’s lives, but a very manufactured version of reality. This will naturally skew your perception of the world.
When you are following people and their updates,
know that these are things that you are allowing to enter your consciousness. Ask yourself: Are these the kind of people you want in your living room, with you? Are these the people you want right beside you, in your daily life? If no, why do you want to see
these updates on such a regular basis?
So be conscious of who you follow, the updates you see. If people’s updates keep making you feel negative, fear-based, that somehow you’re not good enough, that you’re missing out, that you should
be doing/buying/getting that thing, take a step back and ask yourself: Are these the kind of people you want to follow?
Maybe’s it’s good to unfollow them. Limit your exposure to these people. Instead, follow people
and content that inspire you to improve, as opposed to making you fearful or feel that you have a lack, because that is not true at all.
5) Consume information in a targeted way
My fifth and last tip is to consume information in a targeted
way. The Internet today is characterized by an explosion of information. We have all kinds of information around us now. You want to be conscious of how you consume this information.
You want to receive and focus on content that’s tailored to
you, that helps you in your life. For example, some of you may be in Facebook groups. When you join a Facebook group, Facebook automatically makes you follow that group, that group’s updates, and automatically adds you to the group’s notifications.
The way I do it is whenever I join a group, I will immediately unfollow the group’s updates and remove the group’s notifications. So I’m still in the group, but I just don’t see its updates by the second. Instead, I go into the group
whenever I want to look at what it is up to. Why do I do that? This helps me to be conscious of the kind of updates I see when I enter Facebook’s main page. So firstly, I limit my usage of Facebook. Next, when I enter Facebook, I want to be conscious
of the kind of updates I see on the front page. Facebook has its own algorithm and it cherry picks and selects whichever updates fit that algorithm. Typically these are updates focused on increasing and maximizing engagement, and that’s not necessarily
what I want. Sometimes I want to see everything that the group has so far, discussions, etc. so that I can zoom in on the ones that are relevant to me. As opposed to having an algorithm that pre-selects and pre-filters, and the pre-filtered
material may not be what I’m looking for.
So being conscious in terms of how you consume information. You pick and choose the sites that you want to see, the updates you want to see, the groups that you want to focus on for today or for a week.
That’s the same for websites you follow, newsletters, YouTube channels that you subscribe to. You don’t need to be following everything. You don’t need to be subscribed to everything. You want to ask yourself: Which are the [sites/channels/etc.]
that give you great value? Where you genuinely feel uplifted by the content? And the content helps you to live a better life, live a conscious life?
These are the channels/websites/newsletters that you want to stay subscribed to. Don’t worry about
missing out because there’s just so much information out there. Your role today is to pick what works for you. Tuning into the information, the updates, the activities that are relevant to you. Rather than feeling that you need to be in the loop of everything.
I feel the websites today — how conglomerates have designed their websites — are created to elicit that feeling that you’re not seeing enough, that there’s more content you need to see.
Because of that, we need to learn to draw
our boundaries. Deciding that, Okay today I just want to consume this ABC piece of content. And that’s because this channel is something that I like, this website is a high-quality one. Hence I consciously choose to read and follow these things.
Beyond that, I’m doing other stuff.
So that’s it for today’s episode. I have a few articles that are relevant to today’s episode that I’ll be linking to them in the show notes.
If you have
found today’s podcast helpful, I would really appreciate it if you can leave a review on iTunes, and that’s at personalexcellence.co/itunes/. Doing so really makes a difference. It helps
to spread the message of conscious living out there to the world. And I feel that is something that we massively need today.
If you are interested in living a better life in just 30 days, check out my 30-day life transformation program, Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program. I’ve packed my 30 best tasks on life transformation and that includes some of my best exercises that I share with my life coaching clients, to help
them discover your life direction, discover their life goals, review how you are doing in your life, evaluate your routine, transform your to-do list, expand your comfort zone, discover their values, and many more. So you can check that out at personalexcellence.co/courses/30dlbl/.
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How Watching ‘Caddyshack’ Helps Me Stave Off Depression
The ritual of watching (and
quoting) my favorite comedy
Istare into a dark, star-filled screen. A white, illuminated “O” appears, and spins out the words “An
Orion Pictures Release.” Outside, the sky is blue. Birds fly across my window. I lie on the couch as a choir of Kenny Loggins fades in from the speakers.
I have watched Caddyshack, the 1980 film directed by Harold Ramis and starring Chevy Chase and Bill Murray,
more than 100 times. This is a conservative estimate; it does not include partial viewings, clips online, or the times it’s been played with the sound turned off.
Not once during any of these screenings
have I smiled or laughed.
I don’t hate Caddyshack. I
adore it. I can’t get enough of Caddyshack’s “snobs against the slobs” tale, set inside the members-only Bushwood Country Club. I relish the scenes with Al Czervik (played in a star turn
by Rodney Dangerfield), a nouveaux riche condo magnate, who humiliates Judge Elihu Smails (Ted Knight), Bushwood’s slow-burn villain. I still find myself imitating the cadences of Chevy Chase’s Ty Webb, the golf prodigy playboy who speaks in clipped
Zen koans. I adore all of it: the weak main storyline of working-class caddie Danny Noonan (Michael O’Keefe); the set pieces included for no reason other than to feature Smails’ lusty niece from Philadelphia, Lacey Underall (Cindy Morgan), in various
stages of undress; Bill Murray’s unscripted performance as Carl Spackler, the louche and unhinged assistant greenskeeper, chasing an elusive gopher with firearms and explosives.
I don’t appreciate Caddyshack as a golf comedy. I’ve never golfed. I’ve never seen anyone tee off, never been to a driving range. I might not even classify Caddyshack as
a comedy. Over the past decades, I have screened Caddyshack not as comic relief, but as something else. Spiritual comfort food comes close. It’s more like meditation or saying the rosary, a nourishing
ritual. I experience Caddyshack to stitch my mind back together again, to receive what we might call “total consciousness.”
I watch Caddyshack alone. Always. These Caddyshack screenings typically occur in late spring, when my mood turns gloomy, inconsolably sad.
I’ve called these periods a number of things over the years: ennui, melancholy, malaise, doldrums, afternoon stupor, feeling down-in-the-dumps. I know now this is depression, with dollops of generalized anxiety and an allergy to pollen. I watch Caddyshack as a rite of spring, to be return to a world where the biggest concerns include whether or not Judge Smails’ nephew, Spaulding, will pick his nose and then eat his own boogers. Watching Caddyshack’s mechanical gopher dance to Kenny Loggins has proven to have as much efficacy as my prescribed medications.
Humor, Simon Critchley writes, “exploits the gap between being a body and having a body.” When I’m depressed, that gap is exploited further.
I enter an animal-like, non-intentional state. My own story ends or is paused. The restorative power of watching a familiar comedy like Caddyshack, over and over again over several decades, is that it replaces
in the depressed person’s mind the real source of their sadness, whatever it might be. It narrows the gap, however temporarily. It allows you to imagine a body and mind restored to health.
I was too young to see the R-rated Caddyshack in
the movie theater. I saw it a few years later, at the dawn of cable TV. It aired constantly. I’m part of the first generation that got to re-watch movies at home on cable and VCRs, over and over again, committing scenes to memory. How many others have Caddyshack imprinted into the minds?Thousands? Millions? Sure, Caddyshack is funny, but what is it about this movie,
a modest success when it came out, that merits these re-watchings? Caddyshack:
The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story, Entertainment Weekly film critic Chris Nashawaty’s new book-length study just out this month, burnishes the film’sreputation
as one of the “most beloved comedies of all time.” How did a movie written off by critics like Vincent Canby of the New York Times as “immediately forgettable” trash become part of
the comedy canon?
In the most famous monologue
from Caddyshack, Carl Spackler recounts to a young caddy an obviously bullshit tale of jocking for the “Dalai Lama himself” in the Himalayas. Pitchfork in hand, poking prongs in the caddy’s neck,
Bill Murray’s character tells the story of how “the Lama” utters the mysterious phrase “gunga lagunga”:
AL CZERVIK Did somebody step on a duck?
Here’s the part where I admit to being one of those annoying people who rattles off Caddyshack lines in social situations. Most times I trade Caddyshack lines with another person, I do sense a connection, even a deep one.
TY WEBB We have a pool and a pond…pond’d be good for you.
These quote-sharing moments mark the only times I have laughed or smiled in relation to Caddyshack. I also feel myself on the edge of crying. My eyes well up. My lips quiver. My brain feels lighter.
JUDGE SMAILS I’ve
sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber. Didn’t wanna do it, but felt I owed it to them.
In these moments, I don’t need to worry about connecting with another person,
or think about what to say next. Time moves forward, onto the next object of attention.
Thank you, home video. Thank you, collective narrative. Thank you, total consciousness.
There’s a good chance that Ty Webb suffers from depression. Chevy Chase’s character is WASPy, his demeanor understated, sure. He is also withdrawn,
disengaged. He stares into space, and avoids eye contact. When Lacy Underalls, the movie’s femme fatale, visits him unannounced, we see his bachelor bungalow littered with leftover pizza, samurai swords,
“Here’s an uncashed check for seventy thousand dollars,” Lacy says.
it,” Ty answers.
Throughout their scene together, Ty never looks into Lacy’s face, never cracks a smile.
Words associated with comedy: masochism, narcissism, trivia, hysteria. Words associated
with melancholy: masochism, narcissism, trivia, hysteria.
On my desk: a Hallmark Caddyshack Christmas ornament of Ty Webb, dressed in his golf shirt and khakis. He’s barefoot. From the packaging: “Whenever he took to the links with Danny
Noonan, Ty offered the caddy not only lessons in honing his golfing abilities but also zen-inspired insights on the game…and the nature of life itself.”
Press the button on the ornament’s
base and you hear a recording of Caddyshack’s second most famous monologue, in which Ty holds forth about a “force in the universe that makes things happen”:
then chants some mantra-type sounds as he makes trick shot after trick shot on the putting green. All of this is on the recording. Other than taking out the battery, there’s no way to stop Ty Webb from talking. Once you press the button, it just continues
its monologue until the end.
In 2007, psychologists
at the University of Pittsburgh studied the facial expressions of 116 people. Subjects were shown “neutral footage” of a train moving down a track, followed by “robust positive stimulus”: a four-minute clip from Chris Rock’s 1996
comedy special Bring the Pain, selected “to reliably elicit positive emotion.” Using something called a Facial Action Coding System (FACS), the researchers confirmed their hypothesis: that depressives
are more likely to “control their smiles.”
Depressed individuals, in other words, keep thinking about depressing things. Even when Al Czervik tees off and nails Judge Smails in the crotch with
a golf ball.