Three Lessons Holiday Movies Can Teach Us About Real Life Happiness

Movie stubs and popcornYou don’t have to look at a calendar to know the throes of the holiday season are here; over-packed shopping mall parking lots, reports of airport travel delays and incessant TV reruns of seasonal movies are always a dead giveaway. But just because your eyes might glaze over after the eighth broadcast of A Christmas Story within 24 hours, don’t write these sentimental tales off as just mindless entertainment. Here are three lessons holiday movies can teach us about real life happiness:

  1. Be true to yourself. My favorite holiday season movie is Love Actually. No matter what is going on with the nine intersecting stories, the theme of embracing and accepting who you really are rings true. From Hugh Grant’s adorable Prime Minister endearingly declaring his romantic interest on stage during a child’s Christmas pageant to Andrew Lincoln’s character admitting his unrequited love for a friend’s bride in order to move on, being true to yourself and expressing it to others frees you up for greater happiness.
  2. You get to carve your own path. Feel like others have permanently pegged you as the family’s “Debbie Downer” or as a chronic underachiever? It is not too late to change your ways if the desire is authentic and comes from within. When the Grinch abandoned his plans to steal Christmas, he transformed himself from a foe to a friend of Whoville. The appearance of three very persuasive ghosts helped  Ebenezer Scrooge discover a newfound sense of generosity. At whatever stage you may be in life, you can always take steps that lead to a happier life.
  3. Believe in something bigger. In Miracle on 34th Street, a young girl’s belief in Santa brings joy to all around her while in The Santa Clause, Tim Allen’s character becomes closer to his young son and saves the legacy of the big man in red’s worldwide gift dispersal by finally accepting that he can be Santa. Whatever your spiritual inclinations are, believing in something bigger creates hope, possibilities and a sense of community – all of which can increase your happiness.

BTW, I tried to find a Hanukkah movie to reference but the only one that came up was Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights cartoon, which was vastly inferior to his Hanukkah song in my humble opinion as a nice Jewish girl. :)

What are some of your favorite holiday-themed movies?  What are you doing this season to embrace more happiness?


  1. My favorite holiday movie is Elf. Not because I watch it (I am a one time per movie kind of person), but because my daughter loves it so much. I now associate Elf with my daughter being home for the holidays. And I admit I enjoy Elf’s optimism and enthusiasm!
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    • Shira Miller says:

      I think Elf is hilarious and can’t wait to see Anchorman over the next few weeks. What a sweet thing to associate with your daughter. Happy holidays!

  2. I love a Christmas Story and I have since I was a little kid. I also love Scrooged – the Bill Murray version of Christmas Carol. It’s a nice reminder it’s never to late to change your path.
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  3. Great post & points! Got to say I love Miracle on 34th Street first & then A White Christmas cause it tugs at my hear too – believing… HUGS!
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    • Shira Miller says:

      Believing makes so many things possible! Hope you get to catch both of these flicks on TV over the next week. ;)

  4. Love Actually is one of my favorite movies for just that reason. My other favorite is White Christmas, it inspires hope and reminds us that relationships are important and to be cherished. Love your insights and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year. <3
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    • Shira Miller says:

      Thanks Jenn – have a wonderful holiday season! Now the theme song from that movie is playing in my mind :)

  5. I enjoy the theme of transformation in a lot of these movies. Sometimes the season becomes very stressful, and movies help lighten the mood. Thanks Shira!
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    • Shira Miller says:

      Movies are a wonderful way to escape, learn or be motivated. I look forward to checking out some of the big ones that are about to open when we are back in town!

  6. Kristen @ Swanky Dietitian says:

    I love Love Actually!! I have yet to watch it this holiday season but I need to ! It’s so important to remember he’s this holiday is all about. :) these movies definitely help to do just that!

    • Shira Miller says:

      Kristen, so many people have come back expressing how much they adore Love Actually. My husband is British so I’ll have to make him watch it with me this year to hear his accent compete with the ones on the screen. Happy holidays!

  7. My favorite Christmas movie is Elf, just for its pure silliness and joy. That’s the kind of fun, light spirit that I try to foster during the holidays. (When it is far too easy for me to feel stressed instead!)
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  8. Great post! My favorite holiday movie is a white Christmas! Doing something selfless for others!
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  9. YES!!!
    love the notion in so many movies about carving our OWN PATH.
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