What I learned from Mary Poppins

We all know the story of Mary Poppins. A family needs help because life gets in the way and this woman magically falls from the sky to help in any way she can. Although it’s just a story, with great characters and a wonderful concept, it also has many learning lessons. 

As a child, I remember most of my friends loving Disney movies. Most of my friends liked The Little Mermaid or Snow White or Cindarella. But my favorite was always Mary Poppins. When I was asked why that was my favorite, I always said how it was such a fun movie. But as an adult, I realized there is a much deeper reason why that has always been my favorite movie.

It centers around imagination.

When we’re kids, bordering on our teenage years, we are always told to grow up. As kids, we have HUGE imaginations and love to have fun and play and we learn by making mistakes. When we’re adults, the imagination gets thrown out the window, the play gets tossed aside for work and we learn less and less.  Mary Poppins Returns challenges these ideas.

I recently saw the new movie and it brought me back to my childhood. It made me remember what it was like to be a kid again, what it was like to have fun! And it reminded me of a few lessons I learned from the original movie. I want to help you rejuvenate your inner child and free spirit and help you remember to not take life too seriously.

It’s ok to get dirty every now and then.

When we get dirty as kids, our parents like us to clean up right away because we’ll get the furniture dirty or ruin our clothes. Trust me, I’m a neat freak and have OCD so I like things neat and tidy. But sometimes getting a little dirty means an adventure or fun is in store. In the scene where Michael and Jane are off with Mary and Burt, they meet the chimney sweeps and the adventure begins. There’s dancing and laughing and everyone has a good time. No one is noticing that they’re getting dirty, they’re more focused on enjoying themselves. So go out and get dirty from time to time. Take a hike with friends, have a snowball fight this winter or walk barefoot through the sand at the local beach. Get outside and enjoy what’s happening around you.

Great friends were once strangers.

The film doesn’t say it but you know Mary and Burt are dear friends. You can tell they support and love each other even though they don’t see each other often. But how do they know each other? The story doesn’t tell you, but it doesn’t even matter. Think of your best friend. Do you remember how you first met and became friends? You were probably strangers at some point and then something between you clicked and you just knew you’d be friends for life. Unfortunately, we aren’t born to automatically have a best friend. But we are born as social animals and we find commonalities between us. This can make lifelong friendships happen. And as kids, we find it easier to go up to someone on the playground and ask them to join us. As adults, it’s much harder. Get out of your comfort zone and find a stranger to talk to because it just might turn out to be the friend you’ve been looking for.

Money isn’t everything.

You probably heard the “go through school and get a good job” sentence at least once in your teenage years. Yes, you should have a good job, but that job doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make a ton of money. Sometimes money is the last thing you need to be a healthy, happy person. Think of what Mr. Banks is going through at his place of employment. At the same time, Michael and Jane decide to feed the birds. He becomes stressed and worries about money because he knows what’s coming. But something changes in the story. Mr. Banks realizes what he needs to make himself happy has been right in front of him. His family. If you’re always worried about money, take a step back and think about what you DO have rather than what you don’t for a second. We need money to survive in this world, but we also need things like love and a good spirit and good relationships. Money isn’t everything, but your soul and the people around you are.

Kindness should always come first.

The last lesson is one that stands out to me the most. Sometimes we get so busy with life that we forget about being kind to our fellow man. We forget that everyone is going through something, and the person next to us could have it way worse. Imagine venting to someone about how your boss didn’t give you your yearly bonus this year, meanwhile the person you’re venting to has just gotten their home repossessed. What Mary Poppins teaches us about kindness is that it always needs to be present. We should always be kind to each other because by doing this, you’re showing empathy and showing you care. The teaching moment here is to try to be a little more patient with ourselves and with others because showing a little kindness can go a very long way.

While there are many other lessons in Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Returns, these are the ones that stick out to me. They have made an impact on me time and time again. If you’ve seen the movies, think back and try to remember one thing you learned from them. You might come up with something very different…and I’d love to hear about it!

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