Hua Mulan, a clumsy girl who couldn’t fit in, but finally transforms into a strong and incredible hero! Today, we are going to learn Mulan’s life lessons from the Disney version in 1998. Yes, let’s pretend that the 2020 one never happened…
Mulan is my favorite disney cartoon movie! I have always felt very connected to her character, as I can imagine many others have as well. She leaves her hometown to join the army instead of her father to save his life. She has to pretend to be a man and struggles immensly with the training. She inspires us because she starts out, looking completely lost in her life and doesn’t belong anywhere to embracing her true self and becoming a badass warrior!!!
This may be an animated movie, but it’s filled with life lessons to change anyone’s life. I think it can actually bring more to adults because we can understand all the subtleties. If you wish to get up and become your own hero, then let’s get down to business to learn 10 life lessons from Mulan!
1. Blossom at your own time
“My, my, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look! This one’s late. But I’ll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all.” — Fa Zhou
It’s ok to be a late bloomer or to take time to accomplish your goals. It seems that nowadays, we try to rush everything and do all of our tasks as quickly as possible. We do this to the point that we forget to love the best part, the journey! If we learn to slow down and let ourselves bloom at our own time, we can actually do a much better job and take time to enjoy ourselves.
Live at your own rythm
We all live our lives at our own rythm. There isn’t the perfect age for everyone to have their first child, to get married or to start a new life project. It’s ok to start later what all your friends or family are doing before you. There are no absolute rules. I know so many people who do things before they’re ready to simlpy be the same as others.
What do you feel that you want to do at this time? Are you hesitating with something that everyone else is doing? Sit in a quiet place. Focus on your breath for a few minutes. Now, when you think about a decision you need to make, does your body, your heart or mind feels like it’s vibrating of joy or does it feel constricted?
Read more about how to listen to your intuition here 😉
2. Be determined and persevere!
We see determination in Mulan’s eyes quite a few times in this movie. Several times, she gets pushed down by life’s circumstances. She can either give up and choose to be a victim or she can make the decision to change her mental state and take charge of her own destiny! If you have seen the movie, you know that she took the decision to empower herself and persevere through the challenges.
So, Mulan acquires this warrior mindset when she goes up the pole, because she perseveres through the challenge and doesn’t give up. This was so important to change the rest of her training there, because she changed her way of looking at her situation. She changed her mindset because she started doing it for herself, to prove to herself that she was strong and powerful. Changing requires a lot of strength, so you need determination.
Why is determination important?
Why is determination so important? Because, without it, you will always be influenced by everyone’s opinion around you. If anyone wants to block you on your journey, than you will easily give up. If it’s not from others, than it’s your laziness or your negative thoughts that will bring you down.
I am saying, choose to not let life just pass you by anymore. You want something, then be determined to accomplish your dreams. Then persevere! It’s easy to say you want this change, but you have to show that you want this more than anything!
3. Feel and process your emotions
After she finds out that her father is being sent to war and with his health condition, she knows that if he went, he would die. Naturally, she feels overwhelmed by her emotions. She goes outside to cry. She lets her emotions come out. But, she also gives herself time to process her emotions. A lot of us try to burry those emotions to not face them. But the problem is sooner or later, they will come out.
Sometimes, if I am angry or super stressed, I try to take a moment for myself, because admit it, we make absolutely no sense in those situations. I try to give myself time on my own to process so that after that, I can think more logically when I feel more distant with the situation. Afterwards, it’s simpler to see how to correct a situation. Because nobody’s perfect and a lot of times, when a situation goes bad, everyone has their responsibility in it, we just don’t see it right away.
In the movie, instead of letting herself be consumed by her emotions, after she processes them, she thinks of a plan to save her father. Even though, she still feels sadness, she isn’t overwhelmed anymore by it. So, she’s able to think and make better decisions at that moment.
4. Set an intention and take action!
Continuying with her decision to join the army instead of her father. What does she do first? She lights the incense and prays. She is, in this moment, setting an intention on what she must do. This is an important life lesson. Because, it’s much more difficult to accomplish something when you feel doubt or divided between options. When you are set on a particular goal and you truly set your intention on that, it makes the climb over that mountain much easier.
Create your own ritual
Do a ritual to set your intention. No matter what spiritual beliefs you have or don’t have, you can create your own ritual. You can write it down on a piece of paper, that you will then put in the fire. Maybe, you can write it down on a board that you keep somewhere where you will see it often. Or meditate on your intention. Show you mean business!
She starts taking action by cutting off her hair and putting her father’s armor on. Then, she leaves to join the army.
If you don’t like the circumstances in your life, it won’t change anything to moan and complain about it. Instead, use the time right now to take action! The life lesson we learn from Mulan is to take charge of our own life, our own destiny. So, change the circumstances to make the situation better for you. I understand that it’s not always possible to do so right away. Instead, work on your mindset to make your situation more acceptable until you can change it.
For example, you are working at a job you don’t like, but you can’t quit because you need the money. Continue to work there while searching for another job. Since it can take time, work also on accepting your current circumstances. Know that you’re not there for life and look at what the positive points this job is bringing you. It brings you money to buy food. Maybe, it brings you knowledge and abilities that are useful to get a better job. Make a list of the positive points in your situation!
Take action right now by writing down the steps to get to your goal. And remember to focus on what makes you feel good and put all your energy into that, you will be able to take on a whole army by then 😉
5. Stop doing things to make other people happy
Mulan keeps trying to conform and be accepted by everyone. She tries to be the perfect wife-to-be for the matchmaker or the perfect daughter for her family. She sees herself get rejected over and over again. You don’t need to fit in the box that others want to put you in and follow their ideals. Mulan gets accepted by others only when she is completely herself and accepts herself deeply.
When she is about to be expulsed from the army, you can see that she actually wants to stay for herself. She does so much better with her training after that because she no longer is doing it for others but also for herself.
Sometimes it seems easier to try to make other people happy and forget your own happiness. I tried that and people would still complain and always asked for more. When I stopped, I was scared and some people did get angry with me. But after a transition period, they accepted the real me and my relationships with these people got so much better!
Listen to your own voice
The only thing that is blocking you is the barriers you have in your mind. Don’t listen to any other voice than your own. Don’t listen either to that negative voice that always brings you down. Listen to the real you who truly knows what you are capable of. It knows that you have all this power and inner strength in you. It’s just waiting for that inner warrior to say yes, I can totally do this!!!
Everyone has different abilities. Use your strengths and with your will and determination, you can accomplish so much. Focus on your goals and dreams, your heart will whisper the steps to take for you to get there, because yes, you are enough!
Shine your light
When you stop doing things for other people and you do it because you really want to, your motivation and your positive state of mind changes everything in your performance.
- Be brave enough to disagree with others.
- Be confident enough to stand up for yourself.
- Be kind enough to yourself to actually live your life for you, not for others.
When you live your passion or with your values, you transform so much that your light will inspire the other people to want to shine themselves and find their own way. So, you’re actually helping yourself and everyone around you.
6. Get out of your comfort zone
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” — The Emperor
I think that what the Emporer is actually trying to say is, if you are able to evolve while in a difficult or uncomfortable situation, then that’s rare and wonderful. A lot of people just prefer staying in their life circumstances even if they aren’t happy, because they know what to expect. Trying…nahh that’s too hard.
It’s not when life is comfortable that we evolve and transform ourselves the most. If your circumstances are fine or even not great but at least you’re used to it, you don’t have the will to push forward. You don’t have a reason to make an effort to change, to blossom into the best version of yourself.
Practice coming out of your comfort zone
My martial arts teacher, from China, told us in class one day that when you want to evolve, you also have to go through the pain. If you practice regularly small tasks that take you out of your comfort zone, then it will become much easier to work on bettering yourself. Wether you want to have the discipline to start training for a marathon or you want to eat healthy on a daily basis, you need to train your discipline. Especially since you can’t rely on motivation alone because it is way too fluctuating.
How do you do that? Here a few examples. Take the stairs whenever you can instead of the elevator. Meditate 15 minutes every day. Or the one I resist the most is to willingly decide to turn the handle to make your shower cold. If you can accept coming out of your comfort zone regurlaly, then it becomes much easier to be disciplined and to go on your journey of self-transformation.
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7. Let go of your anger
“Relax and chant with me.” – Chien Po
When you have an angry thought that makes your insides feel like they’re boiling, you become the slave of that emotion. It’s a reaction to a thought that is making you feel bad. Instead of continuing to fuel that thought that is making it worse and makes you feel like you’re going to explode, like Yao, listen to Chien Po.
8. Think outside of the box
“You seem to be missing something. This represents discipline and this represents strength. You need both to reach the arrow.” — Shang
Let’s take the example of when Shang tells the soldiers to climb a pole while carrying a heavy weight on each arm. None of the soldiers succeed. And as long as Mulan tries to go up the same way as everyone else, she fails. You can imagine that at up to this point, she keeps trying to get past a wall just by running into it, instead of going around it. Which, if you’re honnest with yourself, haven’t we all done that at one point in our lives ?
We clearly see that what we are doing isn’t working, but we think that if we can continue the same way, at one point we will succeed. This is what Einstein called insanity.
When Shang tells her to leave, she starts thinking about how, with her strengths and weaknesses, she can get up that pole. She stops trying to go the conventional way. With her creative mind and sense of strategy that she combines with her strength, she figures out a way. By tying the two weigths on the other side she can pull herself up.
Or just like the time in the mountains. Even though the army knows they’re going to die because they are greatly outnumbered, she doesn’t give up so easily. Again, she uses her intelligence to use a single cannon to get rid of most of the Hun’s army.
Don’t follow the status quo, let your creativity express itself.
9. You’re stronger than you think
“Who am I fooling? It’s going to take a miracle to get me in the army.” — Mulan
When, Mulan first arrives at soldier’s camp, she really struggles a lot. She fails at every exercise and is behind the others when they have to climb the mountain. We know that she completely doubts herself before she enters the camp. But then, how come there is such a transformation between this part and after Shang tells her to leave the army? She decides that she doesn’t want to leave. As mentioned before, she uses her own strengths to get to the top of the pole and after that she starts excelling at every exercise.
Yes, I know it wouldn’t happen so quickly in real life. But there is definitely a mental shift going on that changes her performances. If in your mind, you’re telling yourself you’re not going to make it, well it’s pretty much sure that you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if you really believe in your worth and strengths and you fight for what you want, you have a much higher chance to succeed.
Everything starts in your mind! Your negative toughts will tell you to give up when actually you can go on for much longer. If you can go past those thoughts and the struggle, you will see that your limits are way way higher than what you thought. Let Mulan’s lesson inspire you here. You are so much stronger than what you think you are! Trust yourself!
10. Balance every part of yourself
At the end of the movie, when the evil Shan Yu tries to kill Mulan, she only has a fan on her. Interestingly enough, that is the same object we see her with at the beginning of the film when she is all dressed up. If she had only tried to use brute force, I am not sure she would have won. But instead, she combines her feminine strength, the use of the fan, to get the sword, which she has been training with as a man, to defeat her opponent.
She embraces both sides. She goes beyond pure strength to win. She uses all of her abilities, such as creativity and strategy, that she has from the beginning, to succeed.
Clearly, Mulan shows throughout the movie that you don’t have to be 100% masculine to be strong! Actually, when she tries to become a man, when she arrives at the training camp, well… she not only looks riddiculus, but she’s definitely not stronger.
You don’t have to reject any part of you. Some may think to be strong, you have to reject your feminine side or your emotions. Well, in Mulan, we find out that it’s quite the opposite! As long as she doesn’t find the balance in herself and simply be Mulan, she isn’t at her fullest potential. So, balance both your yin and yang!
Accept who you truly are
She realizes that she didn’t need to bend to their expectations, she doesn’t need to change for them. She became her true self, the real Mulan.
If you are too afraid to go against everyone’s expectations because you could disappoint them, then you won’t honour yourself. And if people understimate you, that doesn’t mean you should underestimate yourself. Use this as an inner fire to motivate yourself.
If you want to also find YOUR way, then listen inside. What does your heart or your gut say? Try the exercise mentioned in blossom at your own time.
Be a badass warrior with Mulan’s life lessons!
Mulan isn’t perfect but she grows so much by learning to accept herself that she becomes an inspiration for all of us! She teaches us that it’s ok to have flaws and to fail, but every time you fall, get back up. Even if your life circumstances are uncomfortable or even painful, don’t let that bring you down. If someone tries to make you feel unworthy or inferior, don’t let that person have any power over you. You don’t have to follow anyone’s ideals. Be who you are, choose what you love and do that! This is how you can honour yourself.
We learn through her lessons about self-empowerment and accepting our true selves. We learn how to take back our power and be strong physically and mentally. She shows the importance of integrity, self-love, kindness and standing up for yourself. For me, Mulan represents the true meaning of strength and what it means to be a warrior in every day life!
You’re also a badass warrior! So be inpsired by Mulan’s life lessons, be brave and start doing actions to accomplish your dreams and be yourself in your life!
What about you? Which scene, in Mulan, did you find the most inspirational? Leave it in the comments!