Have you seen the 2015 remake of Cinderella starring Lily Allen? If you haven’t, we highly recommend it. Besides the gorgeous costumes and the beautiful story of a mistreated girl who finds her “happily ever after,” this version contains a very important lesson.
Early in the film, Cinderella’s mother becomes ill and knows she’s about to die. Before she does, she shares some advice on how to manage many of the trials life has to offer. Of all the things she tells her daughter, this is most important in her eyes: Have courage and be kind.
If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s a short clip of the scene:
Have courage and be kind. Two things that sound simple, right? Well, not really. Cinderella’s mother was very wise. Courage and kindness won’t solve every single problem in our lives. But, if we look a bit closer into these two traits and learn how to use them with purpose, they can really help us in dealing with people and tough situations.
We talk a lot about courage; we hear a lot about it too. But let’s look at what courage really means. Here’s the definition from the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:
The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
What does this mean for us? Cinderella’s mother did not want her to give up during tough situations. And for Cinderella, losing her mother and then being mistreated by her step-mother and step-sisters, was definitely a tough situation.
She had a rough time but she didn’t give up and she didn’t give in. She fought! She was determined to get to that ball and she (with a little help) made it happen. But notice the Fairy Godmother didn’t find Cinderella inside the house after her first dress was torn. Cinderella was outside, not settling for spending another evening in her attic room, unfairly.
But courage goes even further. We need courage to try new things. Auditioning for a play or musical, joining the cheer squad or learning to play a new musical instrument– it takes courage to put yourself out there. These activities require skill and they are difficult. But throughout our lives it’s the difficult things that help us grow the most. You won’t make every team or nab every key part. But have courage. Keep trying. Don’t sit inside and wait. Go out and try something new!
It’s easy to be kind to our best friends and to others who are kind to us. But this “kind” of kindness was not what Cinderella’s mother was talking about. She wanted her daughter to show kindness to everyone, even unkind people.
This is hard. This is really hard. Often, our first instinct when people are rude or mean is to become defensive. We sometimes want to react with anger or to raise our voices. We might try to out-wit them. We want to be smarter, louder, maybe even…better? We might want to give them a verbal smack-down and show them up.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not referring to criminals who are trying to hurt you or steal your purse! This is the barista at Starbucks who is snippy and impatient with you. This is “that girl” in school who always frowns and gives you dirty looks. This is about your grumpy boss at your first job, or a coworker who is always trying to find fault with your work.
Be kind. Stay calm and respectful.
Challenge yourself to not let your behavior be dependent on others’ behavior. Be who you are. If someone is rude, you can still show them respect. You can still be calm and graceful. You can still act more like you do with your best friends.
In the movie, Cinderella still treats her stepmother with a basic respect that this woman doesn’t even deserve. Because Cinderella is a giver of respect. She stays true to herself.
And even in her horrible situation, Cinderella is kind to animals another movie characters.
So what can we learn?
Kindness doesn’t have to depend on the situation. It can just be who we are.
How can you have courage and be kind, today?