I adore Albert Brooks. Yesterday was his birthday and so I was thinking about one of my all-time favorite movies Defending Your Life and how it changed my own life. It's easy to watch the movie as an enjoyable and amusing comedy but really it contains one of the most profound life lessons: it's our fears that keep us small minded and stuck in life.
I think I've recommended this movie to everyone I know but incase you missed it: Daniel dies in a car accident in the prime of his life and he, as everyone does, makes a stop at Judgement City to spend four days defending his life to see if he will move on or be sent back to Earth. In the evaluation process you must revisit certain times in your life were you let fear overcome you and you are forced to explain why you let fear rule vs following your true wishes. If you're smart/evolved enough not to let fear run your life you progress to a higher level of existence and if you are still ruled by fear back to Earth you go.
I'm not an overly fearful person but I also don't live the biggest bravest life I can and I am constantly wishing to be more myself and really living into my greatness. The idea that fear fogs our joy really rings true to me and when we combine the fear upfront with the regret of fear stopping us it's actually a double whammy. Anytime I'm afraid to do something I try to remind myself that at the end of our lives it is only the things we are too afraid to do that will haunt us. Brave boldness is not something that comes naturally to most of us, even as an amazon of an extrovert I still play small and safe in much of my life. And the real ridiculousness of it is that most of us know this and are still letting fear stop us from being our most magnificent selves.
One of my favorite scenes is when Daniel is eating in a fancy restaurant enjoying a wonderful time with Meryl Streep's character Julia and instead of fully enjoying it he is overcome with fear that the waiter is embarrassing him by bringing him nine pies to take home. He's so uncomfortable and anxiety filled and this is while he is already dead!
My wish for my life and for all of you is that we live true to ourselves and let fear play its proper place in our lives- to warn us to run from lions... and not from challenges and our dreams. I highly suggest you watch the movie sometime soon and if you're a fan follow @AlbertBrooks on Twitter. I'd like to someday say I've tamed my fears to the point of playing at life like it's all one big comedy. Not there yet but having DYL as a reminder to try has been profound for me and makes me very happy Mr. Brooks was born and brilliant and brave enough to make this film :)