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3 Things Aladdin Teaches Us About Being More Honest – With Ourselves and With Others

Aladdin first became popularized in the United States in the 1990s by Disney’s animated musical of the same name. But the story is not original. In fact, the story of Aladdin is actually several hundred years old and is only 1 of over 1,000 original stories published in a book called Arabian Nights in the 18th Century. 

Despite there being different versions, let’s stick with Disney’s take for our purposes here. In the film, Aladdin is a street-wise orphan who hustles and steals to try to get by. But after a series of events leads him to discover a magic lamp with a Genie who will grant him 3 wishes, he completely transforms himself. But this comes at a cost.

Aladdin wishes to be a rich prince so that he can win the heart of Princess Jasmine, who he met and lied to about his identity when he lived in the streets. The problem is, even though Aladdin becomes a rich prince, Princess Jasmine recognizes him which causes Aladdin to lie to her for a second time. Throughout the course of the film, Aladdin continues to lie and lie until it not only almost costs him the love of the Princess, but almost costs him his life. 

What can you and I learn from Aladdin specifically as it relates to honesty and dishonesty in our own lives? 

  1. When in potential trouble, dishonesty seems more convenient. Aladdin found himself in trouble all throughout the film. While some of this trouble wasn’t his own fault, some of it was. When Princess Jasmine confronted him about his identity (she did recognize him from the streets when he became a fake prince) he chose to deceive her. But why? He did so because he thought the princess would never accept the real him so he became something else to try to win her over. In our lives, we might also experience potential troubling or inconvenient situations and we too will have to choose between whether we will be honest with others or trick them into believing we’re something (and somebody) other than who we are. Have you ever been less than forthright with people because you wanted their acceptance?
  1. Dishonesty jeopardizes our relationships. Even though Aladdin thought he was trying to maintain his relationship with Princess Jasmine by lying to her, he was actually jeopardizing it because he was manipulating her for his own purposes. It’s not that he meant her harm, but he still disrespected her by taking her for a fool. Instead of being brave himself, he chose to act cowardly so that he could make her his girl by any means necessary. For you and me, when we tell fabrications or half-truths we are manipulating others even if our intentions are good and very much disrespecting them. For our own sakes, we should be completely straight with people so that we don’t potentially lose important relationships.
  1. Dishonesty makes us postpone our own growth and development. One of Aladdin’s biggest flaws was that he was less than truthful and had a tendency to cover things up, especially as they related to Princess Jasmine. Each time he covered up, he was delaying growing into the person he was meant to be – an honest and courageous man who was strong enough to tell himself the truth so that he could tell others the truth too. For us, we must choose honesty if we are to stop lying to ourselves and others – and if we are to overcome our biggest flaws and grow into the people we’re meant to be.

Ultimately Aladdin teaches us great lessons about honesty and dishonesty. It shows us that we should always be honest even when it seems less convenient; that we should not risk our relationships for lack of honesty; and that by being honest with ourselves and others we are choosing to accelerate our own growth and development as people. 

Dr. Rob Carpenter - known simply as “Dr. Rob” -changes lives for a living. He is a trained social scientist, transformational author, movie director, and speaker whose mission is to empower and entertain people around the world so they can live their best lives. He has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, and Business Insider, among others. Dr. Rob has also been a filmmaker for the 2x Emmy Award winning USC Media Institute for Social Change, is a former professor and startup CEO, and has worked and lectured around the world. He is the author of upcoming book The 48 Laws of Happiness: Secrets Revealed For Becoming the Happiest You; writer and director of the film American Dropout; founder of the School of Happiness; host of The Dr. Rob Show podcast; and has hundreds of resources available on his website (coming 2021) to help make people’s lives better. Dr. Rob has also been an activist and innovator around the world. He co-founded Students Against Genocide when he was 19, which mobilized 50,000 students against genocide in Darfur, Sudan, which helped force UN peacekeepers to end the mass murder of millions of people. At 23, was appointed as the youngest Commissioner of Transportation in the history of Los Angeles where he saved 100 ambulance worker jobs and exposed $217 million dollars in fraud. Dr. Rob received his B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, M.A. from Northwestern University and doctoral degree from the University of Southern California.


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3 Things The Wizard of Oz Teaches Us About Diversity

Wizard of Oz Photo

The Wizard of Oz is one of the most iconic movies of all time. I remember watching it countless times growing up and wondering, each time, if the film would somehow change.

The Wizard of Oz follows the story of Dorthy who runs away from home in Kansas when she tries to save her beloved dog, Toto, from being euthanized. But when she runs away, a tornado occurs which knocks her unconscious. When she wakes up, she realizes that she’s not in Kansas anymore and that, in fact, she is in the Land of Oz. But the only way to get out of Oz and back to Kansas is to reach the Wizard who runs the land and ask for his help to get out. As Dorthy makes her way to see the Wizard, she meets Tin Man (who has no heart), Scarecrow (who has no brain), and the Cowardly Lion (who has no courage) who successfully help her on her adventure.

What can you and I learn from Dorthy as it relates to the new, diverse friends she met who ultimately helped her reach the Wizard and escape from Oz?

  1. We can learn that there are diverse people all around us who will have defects and shortcomings that we won’t understand on our own journeys. When Dorthy met her new friends Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, they all had almost unbelievable insecurities and shortcomings. Tin Man had no heart (i.e., no compassion), Scarecrow had no brain (i.e., no intelligence), and Cowardly Lion had no courage (i.e., no backbone). Despite their flaws, Dorthy still decided to be friends with them so that they could help her on her way back home. Likewise in our own lives, we will meet people throughout our lives who will have their own shortcomings – who lack qualities we believe they should have already gained or mastered – and it will be up to us whether we want to overlook them so they can help enrich our lives.
  1. We can learn that there are diverse people all around us who will have strengths and abilities that we will be in awe of and that will benefit us. Even though Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion lacked many things, they also had strengths that ultimately helped Dorthy as she made her way through the treacherous Land of Oz. In our own lives, the same people who have huge shortcomings will also have huge strengths and we will have to learn to first see their strengths so we can extract them to move forward in our lives. One of the greatest challenges for many people – especially young people – is not being able to see the true gifts of others and leverage those gifts to get ahead in their lives.
  1. We can learn that the diverse, gifted, and imperfect people all around us will help us fulfill our destinies. Dorthy was meant to escape from the Land of Oz, but she couldn’t have escaped without her new, talented, imperfect friends. That is, Dorthy will most certainly have been defeated by the Wicked Witch of the West or gobbled up by the Munchkins if it wasn’t for the help of Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. For you and me, if we want to grow into the people we’re capable of being, we will have to accept the good and the bad from those around us so that we can reach the goals in our lives. We will never meet perfect people who will help us become who we’re meant to become.

Ultimately, The Wizard of Oz teaches us many things about diversity that can be truly beneficial if we take advantage of them. But learning to identify and accept the diverse shortcomings, gifts, and help of others of those around us are three of the biggest lessons. 

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Michelle Obama’s Top 5 Life Lessons

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama is one of the most inspiring and influential women in history. Not only was she the first African American first lady of the United States, but she is also a fashion icon, acclaimed author, and social activist who has been putting people – especially young girls – first throughout her life.

Whether you agree with her (or her husband’s) politics or not, as a cultural figure she has done phenomenal things with her life that we can all learn from. She studied her way through Princeton University as an undergrad, for example; was a top student at Harvard Law School; and spent time as a hospital executive helping sick people get healed. She has also launched health food and empowerment initiatives for girls that have literally improved millions of girls lives throughout the world.

Given all of her amazing accomplishments, what are Michelle Obama’s top 5 life lessons we can learn from?

  1. We have to choose ourselves. Time and time again, Michelle Obama hearkens to the idea that we have to be authentic to our values, goals, and personalities. Too often in society it is easy to try to fit in out of fear of rejection and we don’t have to do this. Sure, if we don’t fit in some people will reject us, but other people will accept us. We should want to be around the people who will accept us for being who we truly are.
  1. We have to trust ourselves. In Michelle’s memoir and documentary of the same name, Becoming, she talks about the need to believe in ourselves, believe in our own voices, and trust that we matter to somebody somewhere. This lesson some people never learn, but if you and I learn it early we will be much better and stronger because of it.
  1. We have to practice who we want to be. Because of hurts, insecurities, and other things we’ve experienced in our lives, it can be easy to not know who we are – it can be easy to question our identities – so we will have to practice who we are according to Michelle. What this means is we will have to practice being brave, bold, original, and real even if we don’t feel these emotions at the time we’re practicing them. The more we practice, the more we become.
  1. We have to choose excellence in all that we do. In order to move into our destinies and prove our doubters wrong, we will have to be excellent at all that we do. We will have to speak, write, dress, and behave in excellence if people are going to take us seriously and if we are going to achieve success. This might seem like a given, but in practice it can be harder than it seems. Michelle believes that we must choose excellence over mediocrity every single time.
  1. We have to keep moving forward no matter what comes at us in life. Michelle Obama is certainly no stranger to controversy, pain, or opposition, but despite these things she continues to move forward regardless of what is thrown at her. Because she was the first African American first lady of the United States, there were many personal and professional questions thrown at her that she had to deal with. And when she dealt with them, she did so with class. For you and me, we can also learn to do this no matter what life throws at us – we must keep pushing forward and never accept defeat.

So there we have it, Michelle Obama’s top 5 life lessons. If we can choose ourselves, trust ourselves, practice who we want to be, choose excellence in all that we do, and move forward no matter what life throws at us we will be well on our way to implementing our first lady’s top 5 life lessons in our own lives.

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