Lessons From: Amélie

How to enjoy the little things in life like Amélie

There is no country on earth that can handle romance better than France. Therefore, who could be better than Jean-Pierre Jeunet at filming romantic comedies? I have absolutely no idea but if you know then I'd be delighted to see it, because to this day, Amélie is one of the greatest movies I have ever seen and it is full of little lessons that you could learn and use in your daily life. 

In case you haven't seen it, I won't spoil much of what goes on in the film, but a big theme in it is how the little changes in life can snowball into bigger circumstances until you've done a 180 and ended up somewhere you never imagined you'd be, and this was so well-placed into the story that if you asked most people what the reason for change in Amélie's life was they genuinely wouldn't be able to say because it's a pretty tiny detail.
Not exactly this but pretty close

Today, we're going to focus on the little things, and not necessarily those that will transform your life completely, but you'd be surprised at what you can find if you stop and smell the roses. There is so much that you can see in the places that you've been to a hundred times, if only you would stop and observe, just like you will always notice new details in the background every time you see this movie. 

Amélie Poulain was a very shy and nonchalant girl from her childhood all the way through adulthood, whose mother was neurotic and father was probably obsessive-compulsive. In the first five minutes you get to know her parents intimately because the narrator gives you a list of quirks that both of them had, and although they were explained in a broader sense at first, you didn't quite get it until the mold was filled with these grains of sand. 

You can imagine how growing with strange parents would affect her, and all her childhood is explored through the small things as well; the goldfish she had who would eventually be let go in the Canal de Saint Martin, or the photographs she would take with her Polaroid camera, the way she would meddle with a neighbor's antenna during soccer games because he would prank her, and as she grew it was very clear that she wasn't any regular person, but a self-contained world bursting with emotion, and the catharsis she had was through, you guessed it, the little things. 

If you pay attention to the movie, things that were mentioned pretty briefly at the beginning would be shown in one way or another. Amélie liked to collect small, smooth stones to skip at the Canal, and you get to see her bend down and put them in her pocket from time to time. She likes to find forgotten pictures at the photo booths in metro stations and put them in a scrapbook. You see her looking for photos from time to time, and even piecing together certain special pictures. 

The whole plethora of small details you can notice goes way beyond Amélie and her parents. Little things about other characters the narrator tells, you can see being shown from time to time, and sometimes there are many traits left unsaid but shown subtly. You won't get them all in your first viewing, and you might not even get to notice them all, but this is what keeps you coming back to the movie. 

How to apply it

Whenever you feel unhappy or unsatisfied with your life, pay attention to your thoughts and realize that you're generally thinking about a future that's far away or a past event that cannot be changed or relived. You must stop these thoughts and realize that happiness is not the destination, but the journey itself and everything you come across in your path. 

There is a stereotype in romantic stories about couples who got married in a very young age or in bad circumstances, and once they pulled through, became unhappy with each other, remembering the times they were struggling with fondness. Why is this?

When you struggle, you don't have time to think yourself into a spiral of depression, because you already know that there is much to do if you want to live a better life, and during times like this, people tend to focus on what they do have instead of what they don't. It is natural to want more than what you have, even if you already have what you need, but when you focus on the big picture in some far-off future instead of staying in the present and appreciating life for what it is, you're not going to enjoy the journey. 

Stop and smell the roses. Go outside and look at the mountains, or the trees, or the horizon far away in the distance if that's what you can see. Pay attention to your family's quirks, see what little details make them happy, what grinds their gears. Observe your coworkers, take a good look at what your boss does; sometimes what's always there can be pretty amusing if you think about it, because a lot of people tend to live their life in autopilot and you get to see some habits that just don't make sense, and it can be pretty fun to notice. After all, the big picture is made up of the little things, so you might as well enjoy them. 

You can watch Amélie on Netflix (or buy the movie somewhere)

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