1) “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — The Princess Bride
Life is struggling and failing, worrying about money, having to do things you don’t want to do for people you don’t like, getting your heart broken, losing friends, having people you love die, getting hit with health problems, and wondering if you’ll ever be good enough. Some people find this to be dismaying, but it’s actually liberating.
Once you accept that life is painful, you realize that it’s hard for everyone — not just you. You also begin to understand that there is no magic bullet. No matter what mountain you climb, goal you reach, woman you get, friend you make, or dollar amount you put in your pocket — life is still going to be painful. So, you might as well learn to enjoy the ride because it’s never going to get easy. Once you start seizing the day, treasuring every moment of happiness, and looking for the good in life instead of waiting for painful parts to stop, that’s when you’ll finally have happiness in your grasp.
2) “No matter how much you change, you still got to pay the price for the things you’ve done.” — The Town
When you’re 18, life is coming at you like a meteor and it seems like every possibility is open. At that age, it’s almost hard to comprehend that one thoughtless mistake could cast a shadow over your life until the day you die. Have sex without a condom once and you might end up pregnant or with a venereal disease. Fall asleep driving home just one time and you might crash your car and end up dead. Get drunk and drive a single time and you could kill someone, end up in jail, and have that on your conscience for the rest of your life. If you’re making any decision that could still have consequences for you 50 years from now, you better think very carefully about it.
3) “With great power comes great responsibility.” — Spider-Man
This is one of the most famous quotes from a super hero movie, but it’s not just advice for mutants, aliens from Krypton, and teenagers bitten by radioactive spiders. It’s also advice for the wealthy, the talented, parents, teachers, government workers, and bosses. That’s why the quote resonates. It’s essentially the Golden Rule applied to power and ability. If someone else had power over you, how would you like to be treated? If someone else was a genius, had billions, or had other incredible talents, how would you want him to use his gifts to help humanity? That’s how you should be behaving towards your fellow man if you have the same opportunity.
4) “You ask how to fight an idea. I’ll tell you how. With another idea.” — Ben-Hur
In Ben Hur, this quote was used in a broader sense, but it’s also an explanation of how you can control your thoughts. If you tell someone “not to think of a pink elephant,” he’ll fail because his brain doesn’t work like that. However, there is a much easier way “not to think of a pink elephant.” It’s to think of a blue elephant.
Similarly, most people don’t realize how much their emotional states are driven by what they think about on a regular basis. You want to be sad? That’s easy to do. Take the happiest person you know and have him spend 30 minutes thinking about people he loves who are no longer with him, the ways he’s failed in life, reasons he’ll never succeed, and all the things in life that he’s lost and chances are, he’ll be miserable by the time he’s done. On the other hand, find someone who feels sad and have him spend 30 minutes thinking about all the good things in life, why his future is bright, all the great things he can do right now, and what he has to look forward to and you’ll find that his mood will improve considerably.
For good or ill, how you feel and behave is a consequence of what you’re thinking. Change your thoughts and the rest will follow.
5) “It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” — Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Your friends are almost as likely to screw you over as your enemies. That’s because you don’t care what your enemies think, but you’ll do all sorts of dumb things for your friends. Could your enemies convince you to ride in the backseat while they drive drunk? Could they talk you into lying to your wife about where you’re going? Would you believe your enemy if he told you that you aren’t good enough to achieve your dreams, primarily because he’s secretly worried that you will be too good to hang out with him if you succeed? Would you ever spend hours agonizing over whether to loan your enemy a hundred bucks that you really can’t afford to lose even though you believe he is so irresponsible with money that he probably won’t pay you back? Despite all of their great qualities, friends can hurt you in a myriad of ways that your enemies would never even think up in their wildest dreams.