How to Win at Life



Longhorn Cavern State Park, Marble Falls TX

There are no great stories that start without adversity. No one wants to hear about the rich man who got richer or the smart woman who got smarter.

We want to hear stories about people who beat odds. Who overcame obstacles.

Sometimes those obstacles are external. Life situations like poverty or bad parents. Racism. Oppression.

Sometimes the obstacles are internal. Like mental health issues. Perceived messages from others, like “You can’t do it” or “you’re not good enough.”

If Scrooge had been a philanthropist from the beginning, there wouldn’t have been a story. The narrator in Fight Club started off feeling powerless, and went on to make something bigger than himself. Abraham Lincoln was poor and mostly self-educated.

I know many successful people who beat themselves up for not being perfect. Of course, they know they’re not supposed to be perfect, will tell you that it’s impossible to be perfect, but then stress out over mistakes.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Maybe because we know we’re capable of being better than the mistakes we make? Maybe because we judge ourselves by our mistakes and worst behavior? Or we’re worried that others are judging us that way?

I’m sure that it’s all more complicated than just one or two reasons. Our brains are magnificent, frustrating, complex entities, capable of creating art and science, and capable of telling us that others have nothing better to do than remember when we say or do something we shouldn’t have.

Here’s the thing: your life is just a story. It’s a series of memories, and moments. You get to pick what you put int that story. You’re the narrator. Are you going to pick on your main character every time they screw up? Or are you going to treat them kindly, putting in only the learning from the mistakes?

Most of us don’t focus on all the times Harry Potter screwed up. He destroyed Voldemort in the end, so what does it matter that he drove a car into the Whomping Willow or that he didn’t learn occlumency? People still read Twilight, despite the fact that Edward was an emo sparkly vampire. (Maybe not the best example. And yes, as much as I make fun of it, I read and enjoyed Twilight. But please don’t tell anyone.) We still like Kevin Smith, even after Gigli.

Mistakes don’t define us. It’s how we deal with mistakes that counts.


Okay, no post by the TV Guy today, but I thought that since I haven’t posted in several days, I would make up for it.  Kevin Smith has a newish show on Hulu Plus called Spoilers.  He takes a bunch of people to the movies and has them review it, then does a celebrity interview.  It’s all done in the irreverent Kevin Smith style I know and love, and Jason Mewes features on the show as well.

If you like talking about movies, like hearing about movies, like discussing and speculating about movies, this is a great show.  Even if you don’t like any of that, it still may be entertaining.  They have a connected Facebook page with more news and info about the show.

Movies that Made Me Think

In Hollywood today, there aren’t many great stories.  I love a good blow ’em up type movie with lots of car chases and swear words, but those can only be done and redone so many times.  I’m a fan of movies that make me think, even if I don’t necessarily like the movie.

Filmbalaya recently did a great blog on the “25 movies that could blow you away in the second half of 2011”.  Here’s a link to that website.

It made me think about how I haven’t done a top 10 list in awhile, and how maybe it’s time.  So without further ado, here’s the top 10 list of movies that made me think.  In no particular order:

1.  Red State (2011)–  I’m normally a Kevin Smith fan, and while I didn’t like this movie much, it really did make me think.  I didn’t hate it and have the urge to turn it off; it’s just that when it was over, I was left with more questions than answers.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I recommend watching it at least once.

2.  Inception (2010)– This was a twisty turny thinking movie if I ever saw one.  I didn’t think I liked this movie when I was done, and I actually had to go on other sites and read various interpretations of the movie.  If you haven’t seen it, this is one to watch with a group of friends and to debate and discuss over a bottle of wine afterward.

3.  V for Vendetta (2006)- It’s social, it’s political.  It’s interesting, sad and funny.  If you’re starting to wonder if 1984 by George Orwell got it right, this is a movie you must see.

4.  The Dark Knight (2008)- Yes, I know it’s a Batman movie.  However, it’s dark and says a lot about human psychology.  It’s a fascinating look at the human mind, and why no matter how far we come as a society (or don’t), the only predictable thing about human nature is that it is unpredictable.

5.  Forks Over Knives (2011)- This is a documentary about food and how maybe science knows more about curing disease than we think.  I promise you, pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to see this one.

6.  Food, Inc.(2008)- I delayed watching this one for a really long time, and I was right to do so.  I cried through it and had to stop because I got nauseated more than once.  If you want to know where your food comes from and the control that you have over the food industry, and that the food industry has over you, watch this movie.

7.  Fight Club (1999)- Again, this is another movie that explores human psychology, and more than that, group mentalities.  I recommend both the book and the movie, but the movie does a good job of staying true to what made the book great.

8.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)-  A guy arrives at a mental institution and breaks all the rules.  It’s an interesting look at institutionalization.  Again, the book is better, but the movie has Jack Nicholson, so it’s worth watching.

9.  Taxi Driver (1976)- Robert DeNiro plays a taxi driver who starts mentally breaking down.  He becomes obsessed with a young prostitute and takes action.  The ending is discussion worthy, and makes me wonder if this could happen.

10.  Basic (2003)-  A washed up military investigator is called into a base to figure out why several men on a mission disappeared.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  The story gets more complex and convoluted as it goes on, but the ending is worth the journey.