What 'The Great Gatsby' Taught Me About Happiness

What 'The Great Gatsby' Taught Me About Happiness Hero Image

The movie The Great Gatsby is in theaters now, and it has inspired a wave of media attention. Multiple media outlets are sharing stories about the clothes, makeup, cocktails and culture of the 1920s. 

But The Great Gatsby is more than that, and much more than just a story that takes place in the Roaring Twenties. After seeing the film, and upon deeper reflection, I realized that there are abundant life metaphors woven into the script. 

Whether you watched this blockbuster movie in theaters or you remember your sophomore English teacher quizzing you on the classic American novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the depth of the characters in this story can teach us a lot about life, love and happiness

Can The Great Gatsby make you happier? These five life lessons inspired by the characters in the story can help you live a more authentic and happy life. 

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1. Always try to see the good in people.

In the opening scene of the movie, Nick Carraway says that his father taught him to "always try to see the good in people." This has helped him meet new people and to live a life that is full of rich experiences. 

In your life, you can choose to focus on the good in people too. Instead of focusing on their flaws, choose to see their good side and always give them the benefit of the doubt. 

2. Let your inspiration guide you.  

Every character in The Great Gatsby is driven by a deep desire and unwavering passion. Whether they want to end up with the love of their life, discover the truth about another person, or protect their family, each character is driven by these inspirations. The most successful people in life focus on their goals, and let their inspiration guide them. 

3. You can always start over.

Jay Gatsby didn't let his life circumstances define who he was. Although he was born poor, he believed in the power of his dreams, and with a dedication to hope and his unmatched optimism he created an entirely new life for himself. He proves to us all that we do have the power to transform our dreams into reality. It doesn't matter what you have, don't have, or where you are; you can change your destiny. The power of believing is enough to transform your life. 

4. Live for the moment. 

Gatsby throws extravagant parties, and his guests come with the goal to celebrate life and live for the moment. You don't have to live in a gigantic Art Deco mansion like Jay Gatsby to throw a "My Life is Awesome" party. In my book, Find Your Happy, I talk about how we don't celebrate enough in our culture. We tend to only find time to party when there’s a holiday or birthday. Make it a habit to celebrate life for its own sake, and to live for the moment. 

5. Money and things won't make you happy. 

Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are simply an attempt to impress the love of his life, Daisy. He creates a life of extreme luxury in the hope that it will make him happy. Ultimately, using money as power proves to be unsuccessful for Gatsby, and that’s true for most of us as well. 

When we think about the American Dream, The Great Gatsby is a cautionary tale of the downside of decadence. It reminds all of us that money will never buy happiness. The only thing that really matters in life is the relationships we have, the contributions we make in the world, and the love we give. 


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