We recently spent a week at a beach house in Oregon. We drove up the coast, so we spent over 26 hours in the car with our kids in the back seat. We know the soundtrack to Frozen pretty well now.
Music changes how we learn. The more parts of your brain that are engaged, the easier it is for us to learn and remember. If you’ve ever gotten a song stuck in your head, you know how well the melody and meter reinforce the message and make it sticky. Plus, it’s learning disguised as fun! Preschoolers love learning to sing their ABCs; they wouldn’t get as excited about a rote recitation.
Here are five life lessons that stood out to me as we wound our way through the redwoods and rocky coast on US–101. These are by no means the only interpretation, or even what Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez necessarily intended, but they’re good lessons to keep in mind.
From “Love is an Open Door” (full lyrics):
Say goodbye to the pain of the past.
We don’t have to feel it any more. …
Life can be so much more!
Bad things happen to good people, even you. Happens to everyone. The happiest people you know aren’t people to whom nothing bad has happened. They’ve just learned to accept it, deal with it, and move on. They see adversity as a challenge to overcome, an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t let yourself be defined by the negative experiences that happen to you. Learn to let go.
From “Let it Go” (full lyrics):
It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
Do you ever get caught up in doing one more thing after another, afraid that if you didn’t do it right this second, it would never get done? It’s a powerful feeling, and an awful one. It traps us at work and keeps us up late at night.
Instead, write it down. Capture the idea. (Even if it would take less than two minutes to do it, just put it in your inbox—the two-minute rule comes later, when you process your inbox.)
This creates an important break in what can otherwise become a vicious cycle. It gives you a chance to evaluate these tasks within the larger context of what we’re trying to get done today, this week, or with our life. After a while, you’ll see just how creative your mind can be at inventing a crisis to get out of what you really need to be doing. You’ll feel greater satisfaction in what you’re doing, less fear that something is slipping through the cracks, and greater peace along the way.
From “Fixer-Upper” (full lyrics):
People make bad choices if they’re mad,
or scared, or stressed.
Throw a little love their way,
and you’ll bring out their best.
There are two sides to this coin. If you’re mad, scared, or stressed, understand that you might not be thinking clearly. Instead of reacting impulsively, you might be better off just waiting. Don’t escalate a war of words. Don’t lash out in anger or frustration. Keep calm and carry on.
If you’re dealing with someone who is mad, scared, or stressed, show them the same patience, compassion, and understanding that you want others to extend to you. You may need to make the first move and give them a way to calm down with dignity.
From “In Summer” (full lyrics):
Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle
But put me in summer and I’ll be a… happy snowman!
(This is my favorite line in the movie. I love the subverted rhyme.)
Like Olaf, you have a dream. Others may think you’re crazy to chase it, or naïve to think it could happen to you. They can’t wait to destroy your dream. (Kristoff: “I’m going to tell him.”) Some may offer superficial support while waiting for you to forget about it and change your focus. (Anna: “Don’t you dare!”)
You don’t always know up front what it’s going to take to realize your dreams. They may seem impossible, and if you don’t work towards them, they will be. The funny thing about dreams is that they really can come true. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, and intermediate goals. And you need to learn to ignore the haters who are just jealous because you’re making progress and they aren’t.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to see what you can do, to test your limits and break through. Nothing’s in your way—open up the gates!
(By the way—there is no song so good that it can’t be improved by a two-year-old belting it from the back seat.)