For many of us it may feel as though we just rang in the New Year and wished our loved ones a happy 2011, but once again, the holidays have snuck up and are right around the corner. With the celebrations come the joyous festivities of sipping hot chocolate, penning letters to St. Nick, waiting under the mistletoe…and of course crowding around the living room to watch Christmas films with our families. So because of the theme of the impending season, a classic movie to reflect upon as we hang the stockings with care is a beloved and favorite to all: It’s a Wonderful Life.
In this 1946 American drama, Jimmy Stewart plays the role of George Bailey, a troubled man who believes that the world would be a better place without him in it. After spending his entire life giving himself to other people and taking care of his family and his town, a series of unfortunate events cause George to contemplate suicide as the best option for his future. On the edge of a bridge and ready to end it all, George meets his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers), who intervenes in an attempt to save George’s life. Clarence gives George a glance into the world if he had never been born. When George is faced with what could have been had his existence not come to be, he sees the impact his life has had on touching the many lives around him. George then begs God to live and realizes that it really is a wonderful life.
It’s a Wonderful Life sends the message that each person has the capacity to change the world. One of the most important spiritual themes to take away from this movie is that everything you do matters because your actions and thoughts have a ripple effect—despite how small you may think you are in this great big universe. Your life, actions and thoughts impact the lives of every person in yours.
Think about the ripple effect like this: should you pass on a good deed to someone, there is the chance that they will be moved by your act of kindness and be inspired to share a good deed of their own with someone else. When you emit positivity, you attract positivity in return and it washes like a wave over others. Those who are overcome with negativity are more likely to pass on the effects of their bad attitude. As spiritual human beings, we must believe that everything has a point of origin—be the point of origin to make a difference in the world and spread joy. Before every decision made, consider how it will affect those around you.
Use this classic film as a template for living. Try to approach every encounter as if it is a part of your spiritual contract and an opportunity to do good for others. You never know when your call to service might come—that’s one of the things that make life so thrilling. Understand that there is a bigger reason behind even the most seemingly insignificant or minor events. Wherever you go give someone a smile, pass out thoughtful compliments and spread your laughter. Everyone you meet is facing their own struggles—for all you know your smile at that stranger on the street may have made all the difference because it came at the lowest point in their life when they thought all faith in humankind was lost. Don’t ask why, instead just trust that the universe is guiding you to the right place, at the right time, where you are meant to be.
Watch It’s a Wonderful Life, reflect upon the spiritual questions it triggers and let it inspire you…not only this holiday season, but every day of your life. Make it wonderful.
Ellie Stevens is a guest post author contributing this movie review and spiritual analysis of It’s a Wonderful Life.