From folklore to fables, animals have been used to teach us how to live. Sometimes stories are about good versus bad. While at other times they are not so black and white. Human traits are attributed to animals (a form known as allegory), making it easier for kids to understand and make distinctions in behavior.
These days we are serving old wine in a new bottle. Instead of fables, we have larger-than-life animated movies that offer valuable lessons in living for children. One such movie is Madagascar. The lovely thing about the Madagascar characters is that they have both positive and negative traits, as humans do. But we don’t criticize them for that, we accept them. There you go, life lesson one – acceptance.
People around us have their own individual traits. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so are these traits. We classify these traits as good and bad based on who we are. Accepting people as they are and allowing them to find their way out of their own obstacles is one of the greatest gifts of friendship. We don’t tell our friends what they should do and lay down conditions for being lovable; we show them that we are there for them no matter what. Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman show us how!
“PhotonQ-M.Soleil” by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Go after your dreams.
As Marty shows us, we cannot waste away our lives daydreaming. To make our dreams a reality we have to get out of our comfort zone. That is not easy. Marty also believes in that old saying, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ and his optimism is infectious.
“Marty the Zebra…” by rmansoorian is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Be Comfortable in Your Own Skin.
The more comfortable you are with yourself, the happier you will feel. We learn that from Gloria who takes life at a leisurely pace, never losing her cool, no matter what is going on around her. She drives home the point ‘cool head on the rapids’ and enjoys having a good time.
“gloria & moto moto” by digipam is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Take a Chill Pill.
Melman loves getting attention and sometimes gets it by imagining all kinds of illnesses, but what he really needs is to relax and know that letting go is all it takes to be content. He also teaches us to take a stand; we don’t have to always please others and be agreeable in order to be liked.
“Melman” by Luciano Joaquim is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Go with the Flow.
In stark contrast to Melman is Alex, who is a born showman and confident. Alex is also a perfectionist and does not like change. The less you hold on to the way things were and your past, the easier it is to stay open to all the wonderful things life has to offer.
“Alex Dance 0439” by mliu92 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Happiness is but a Move Away.
While he may come across as conceited, King Julien XIII knows the secret to happiness. Let your hair down, dance (it releases happiness hormones) and have a good time every now and then. Another lesson: we need not wait for other people to make us feel special. We can hold our heads high, wear our crowns and know we rock!
“Cartoon Lemurs” by Maurina Rara is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
If you think the Madagascar characters and their shenanigans are farfetched, you will be surprised to learn that animals in real life can make unlikely friends too!