Part of what makes the Star Wars series so special is the abundance of positive mental health advice and philosophies it shared.
The Star Wars series of movies is one of the most successful franchises in history that has touched the lives of adults and children alike over four decades. Steeped in the timeless battlefield of good versus evil, the characters and stories brought to life by George Lucas have played a key role in shaping our culture. Here we take a look at some of our favourite quotes from these movies.
“Always with you what cannot be done.… You must unlearn what you have learned…. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
Probably the best-known piece of positive mental health advice in all of the Star Wars movies, Yoda utters this as new student Luke takes a negative approach to a challenge.
This quote is multi-layered, so we’ll break it down:
- ‘Always with you what cannot be done’ – Yoda speaks to Luke’s negative mindset and the fact he dismisses the possibility before even trying. Instead of taking this self-defeating perspective, if we take a positive mental health approach to our challenges and look at what we can change and what we can do, we put ourselves in a position of control and hope and have a much better chance of making a difference.
- ‘You must unlearn what you have learned’ – our long-held beliefs can hold us back from success or change. To make changes in our life, sometimes it’s necessary to let go of what we hold as ‘truth’ and look at things from a fresh point of view.
- ‘Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.’ – This is a statement that encourages us to believe in ourselves. By concentrating on completion of the task we reduce self-doubt and hesitant thinking. Hesitation and lack of true commitment can cost us the prize.
“You will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” — Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi
Uttered by Obi-Wan in a conversation about Luke’s father, Darth Vader, this is another popular quote that relates to our belief systems and how they can shape our reality.
Our experiences in life contribute to our view of the world, but that does not mean that these beliefs are accurate. Our beliefs can become so strong that we deem them to be ‘truth’, but when closely examined they are simply our interpretations of our experiences.
What seems to be true for you may not be so for others. Obi Wan is reminding Luke to keep an open mind, but also explains a core philosophy of positive mental health – our points of view can shape the way we interpret everything in life and thus create our reality, so make an effort to take a positive view!
“You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting” – Shmi Skywalker, The Phantom Menace.
Anakin Skywalker’s mother, Shmi offers this pearl of wisdom to her young boy who is resisting leaving her for the life of a freed slave.
Change is a constant in our lives and much of it is beyond our direct control, but many of us spend a lot of time fighting against change. While there are certainly changes that are worth fighting against, sometimes the best path for positive mental health is to accept that change is coming and re-position yourself to make the best of the situation rather than fighting the inevitable.
Once you accept change, it can be an empowering opportunity to start things anew.
“What’s in there?” “Only what you take with you.” – Luke and Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
Yoda’s response to Luke’s question about what is inside a dark cave, a test that Luke must face during his training, touches on a deep concept often used in philosophy. The cave is a metaphor of what emotions lie beneath the surface and exploring our biggest (and often unexamined) fears.
The idea is that what we carry with us in an emotional sense (negativity, anxiety etc) into a given situation can have an impact on the outcome. In Luke’s case, he is taking negative feelings with him everywhere, like anger and fear. As he takes these feelings into the situation, the cave reflects these emotions back at him in a vision. While we’re lucky enough not to face a cave this scary in our everyday lives, many of our experiences can be affected by the mood and thoughts we bring into the situation – for better or for worse.
“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda, The Last Jedi
Yoda counsels Luke with this sage advice when Luke despairs about his failure in losing his disciple to the dark side.
Probably our favourite quote of the bunch, this idea shows us that what we view as our failures can often carry the biggest lessons for us and the biggest opportunities to make long term positive change in our lives. It’s OK to fail, failure is there to help us improve. The key is to learn from it.
While we may not have the timeless wisdom of Yoda and friends, we do know a lot about positive mental health.