The famous quote from Forest Gump about life being a box of chocolates always stuck with me, let alone some of the other amazing parts of the movies. I often pondered on the character of Forest and that this movie was released when mental health wasn't really talked about as it is now. My daughter currently works at a co-op placement in the life skills classes at a high school. It is one of her happy places as the students are just them. The students don't hide behind masks, as many of society does these days. They are just them. Emotions are out on the table and moods showed on display. Their souls shine brightly without the traps of social restraint that goes on for the rest of us. Forest had people who loved him for who he was irrespective of his thoughts or actions. They saw the sheer beauty of his soul.
The reference to the box of chocolates was a fantastic example of how expectations in life can be one of our biggest undoing in being mindful. Setting out with a prior thought of how something will be is not allowing the beauty of surprise or seeing the wonder of what is. The bite of the chocolate and anticipation of what flavour it will be allows the burst of bountiful flavour on your tongue or humorous reaction of distaste.
I was thinking about the game Bean Boozled that my children have loved playing or the Harry Potter Bertie Botts beans. So many times, there was much angst over if they were going to bite into vomit flavour or Berties earthworm flavour and then not wanting to play. Part of me couldn't blame them as let's face it who wants to eat vomit or earthworm flavoured beans! Each day of our life can be like Bean Boozled or Forest's box of chocolates. You can walk life with the sheer wonder of what the day will bring or in fear of the worst outcome. Forest approached life allowing opportunity to knock loud and clear with openness to his journey. What flavour of interactions and connections will happen? If some of the day is more like a vomit bean, then trying to find the humour or finding the lessons is far less impactful than attaching to the awfulness.
Taking lessons from those who walk in a world like the character of Forest Gump can be so very freeing. To learn to be in the now and not attaching to it. Now I am mad. Now I am sad. Now I am happy. The emotions come and go. Most of us feel an emotion and then create an attachment to it. If we are angry or sad, we might fear this emotion and do everything we can to not feel it or worry that there is something wrong. Often it is just our body processing stress of emotions; it is human. If we are happy, we often want it to last or try and recreate the feeling rather than allowing it to be. With this style of emotional attachment it takes far longer to heal or recover and can create an unhealthy coping strategy for feeling happiness.
Many people find it hard or uncomfortable to be around people who have developmental disabilities or who are having large emotions. The main reason behind this is mostly due to feeling inadequate in how to be, or it is a mirror back in their own life showing areas of their own emotion they can’t handle. As soon as we see people or ourselves as limited it can disempower and restrict the interaction and experience.
We are all human. We all have a heart, emotions and soul.
In life, can you spin the dial on the Bean Boolzed wheel of life and be open to what it lands on? Can you pick out a chocolate and eat it without knowing what the flavour is? Can you walk your day open to all possibilities?
If this thought instills fear, hesitation or doubt, then I encourage you to approach life much more in this way. Being in the now is freeing and allows so much more joy to come to you.
We can all learn from those who are free from the limitations and traps of society pressures. I for one am going to spinning the wheel and go for it!
Andrea Lines-Botell is a mental health advocate and life coach with a passion for dynamically supporting change.
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