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The Life Lessons of Forrest Gump

on October 6, 2014

To celebrate 20 years of Forrest Gump and the first Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant opening in the heart of Central London, I’ve decided to write an article about the cult classic. Although Forrest is a fictional character, I believe we can all take something away in terms of life lessons from the movie.

This article contains Spoilers to the movie Forrest Gump!

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Life

Lieutenant Dan: Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?
Forrest: I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.

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“You twins? ” – Lieutenant Dan

I believe a lot of people feel living life to the fullest is skydiving, bungee jumping, diving into the ocean. You know, those adrenaline junkies. Wrong.

Those are life experiences. Thrilling experiences I may add. But I believe living life to the fullest is getting the most out of life as you can. Success is a journey. There are no shortcuts.

So living life to the fullest and being successful requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It includes taking risks, taking what life gives you and thinking, “I can do that.”

Forrest Gump is an example of someone who lives life to the fullest. You don’t become a college footballer, army hero, meet American Presidents, ping-pong champion and world record setter by just being an adrenaline junkie. Don’t just live to live, leave a legacy.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

It’s about being diligent. You have to believe you are on the right path in life and working towards being the best version of yourself. Even when Forrest was being bullied when he was a child, they chased him but that didn’t stop him breaking through his leg braces to run away. You can always achieve anything you really put your mind to.

Believe in yourself and be the best you can be, and I truly imagine you can have any type of success you want. Then indulge yourself once in awhile with that extreme adrenaline rush or relaxing family vacation.

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Forrest with US President John F. Kennedy

Friendship 

“A promise is a promise.”
– Forrest Gump

“A Promise is a Promise.”

You realise when you get older it’s a cutthroat world out there. Especially when enquiring for jobs and when a lot of people you trust are not true to their word. But what I always try to do is give anyone and everyone the time of day. With the volume of applications it must be hard when your a manager or CEO of a company, but that’s no excuse in my opinion. They too was once struggling with no job and know first hand how it feels to ask for an opening or act of gentleness. It’s just pure ignorance and disrespect when they don’t even try.

Although Fictional, Forrest is an inspirational character. He treats everyone with the same respect. For example Forrest meets Bubba, a Black guy in the army who kindly offers Gump a seat on the bus. You wouldn’t expect them to be friends but that act of kindness from Bubba was enough for Forrest to take him in like a brother. During their time together he ends up listening to Bubba’s dreams of owning a Shrimp Boat and when Bubba sadly pass away during battle, he decides to pursue that dream in honor of Bubba. As he says, “A promise is a promise.”

Forrest succeeds and helps Bubba’s family achieve Bubba’s lifetime goal, to get them out of poverty. The scene that never fails to inspire me is when Forrest saves as many troops as he can while searching for Bubba in the war zone. He must’ve saved over 5 men but lost Bubba doing it. It shows he didn’t care if he didn’t know you, if you were on his team you were worth saving. That’s a hero.

You’re still Lieutenant Dan.
– Forrest Gump

Take Lieutenant Dan for instance. Gump saved Lieutenant Dan from dying on the battlefield, an incident he grudged Gump for years with hatred. Being a characteristic gratified lieutenant, he never actually thanked Gump for saving his life. But his actions spoke louder than his words. He defended Gump when the two girls called him “stupid”. To put the icing on the cake he turned up to Forrest’s wedding walking, a married man and with a smile.

In life you never know whom you will collide with. Remember the lyrics from Joan Osborne “What if God was one of us? Just a stranger on the bus, trying to make his way home.” Sometimes one good deed can go a long way. Treating people exactly how you would like to be treated will help people unite together. It’s a domino effect.

You will always get those obnoxious people. The ones who are so egotistical and arrogant, that they will look and talk down to you. But I am a true believer the people who choose to be a bigger and better person than them are the ones who will get far in life.

Success 

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”
– Forrest Gump

Forrest proves to us that nothing in life is prearranged. You may give yourself life plans, Plan A’s and B’s. But ultimately most of the time it will never pan out the way you imagine it. Life’s not simple that way. It’s good to have goals and aspirations but you have to be ready for what life throws at you.

Jenny: Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you’re gonna be?
Forrest: Who I’m gonna be?
Jenny: Yeah.
Forrest: Aren’t-aren’t I going to be me?

Forrest shows success isn’t just about the perception of having money, it’s doing what you love for the people you love. Helping others when in need of help. These opportunities to share his talent to world arose in his life from just being himself and letting opportunities come to him. Once discovering his blistering pace, he eventually played college football. This wasn’t a part of his plans.

After graduating he joined the army, as it was a prospect that opened to him. While in the army he mastered the game of Ping Pong so much so he could play at the world stage. And most remarkably he saved lives while in the army and was televised as a National Hero. None of this was planned.

Sometimes you have to open a box of chocolates and expect so much. Because you never know what your going to get until you open it.

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 “You have to do the best with what God gave you.” – Mrs. Gump

Love

“The girl you want, isn’t always the girl that you need.”

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Jenny Currant, Forrest’s childhood sweetheart wasn’t bearing down the glamorous road he was headed down. Her childhood was traumatic. When she was younger she was abused by her father and constantly move homes. This affected her adult life, she was never comfortable staying in one place. Jenny never really had a home.

Love is a feeling you can’t explain but most of us feel. Whether the love is true or not, only time will tell. Forrest was awkwardly in love with Jenny. So in love with her that he will continuously think about her on a daily basis. However Forrest didn’t need a rebellious woman like Jenny in his life.

You may see Jenny as the wicked guidance in Forrest’s life that did drugs, slept around and lived like a hipster.  But she actually saved Forrest. As fate happens, they always cross paths throughout the movie and particularly she always leaves. She leaves without saying anything.

Someone so self-destructive like Jenny will only bring someone like Forrest down. He fails to understand this but the matter of the fact is, he would’ve not accomplished his remarkable feats if Jenny were around. Eventually she would anchor him down with her outrageous lifestyle.

With her last throw of the dice, Jenny finds out she’s dying and ask for Forrest’s hand in marriage. As they have a son together it was the honest thing to do.

The moral of the story is not everyone like Forrest ends up with his or her childhood sweetheart. Sometimes you can love a person so much, but everyone around you can see that person was so wrong for you except yourself. When feelings and emotions are involved it’s hard to differentiate if your partner is the companion you NEED in your life or the one you temporarily WANT.

In this movie, Jenny needed Forrest more than Forrest needed her. But he doesn’t see this. He continually thinks he’s not good enough for her. All along it’s the other way round.

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Forrest

“Stupid is what stupid does.”
– Forrest Gump

While everyone thinks Forrest Gump is a slow, sidesplitting and senseless fictional character, and the list of accomplishments he achieved are merely impossible by one human being. Maybe.

But the morals of living he breathes, and life lessons he teaches us. They are not stupid at all.

We can all learn and take a leaf out of his book.


Main image used via Google Images – Labelled for reuse with modification. 



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