How To Get Motivated With The Help of Comedian Bernie Mac
Do It For Yourself
“Love yourself enough to be the person you want to become” is one of the best motivational Life Lessons that I’ve learned, and it came from watching the documentary I Ain’t Scared of You: A Tribute to Bernie Mac (2011).
Getting the motivation to follow a goal is not easy, and if self-doubt comes into play, it can paralyze or end that journey. But if you are able to imagine your own success and believe it, which is really a reflection of the value you place on yourself, then you can set in motion what you need to achieve it. If you don’t value yourself, if you don’t have high expectations of yourself, then you are less likely to have the fight in you to continue through with the struggle of achieving a goal.
The other motivational message here is the idea that you already are the successful, winning, person you envision yourself becoming. The person who achieves the goals you want is inside of you, so you should treat yourself the way you would treat that person. This means that if a setback appears, you do not put yourself down, you do not talk to yourself in a critical, mean-spirited way, and you do not give up. You simply push through the obstacle that has appeared, ignore it, and move on. These difficulties merely become the steps you have to take in order to achieve the success you envision.
Be Self-Reliant and Self-Directed
I Ain’t Scared of You shows us how comedian/actor/entertainer Bernie Mac (1957 - 2008) achieved his goals. This documentary is a modern-day retelling of the American Dream narrative, of rugged individualism, of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps and achieving the good life. If there is a story with the message “I did it!” that makes you believe that it is possible for you too, it is Bernie’s:
A black man, very dark-skinned -- I’m talking midnight hues -- starting life in serious poverty, in a dangerous neighborhood, the South Side of Chicago in the 1960‘s, orphaned by age 17, sets out to achieve his dream while supporting a family, and emerges from the very bottom, little by little, by overcoming prejudice and tragedy to put together an illustrious career, a loving family, and a wonderful extraordinary life. He starred in his own network television show for five years, The Bernie Mac Show (2001 - 2006), acted in over thirty movies, including Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and Transformers (2007), and had a large following as a stand-up comedian.
Love Who You Are
How did he do it? The opening sequence of the documentary gives us some insight. We watch Bernie walking down a hall while screaming fans shout his name, and he says, “so let me explain something to you about The Mac Man. I love who I am. I love what I’ve become.” This statement brings up some very important questions: How many people honestly feel this way about themselves? And how many of them feel they are successful? And which came first, the pride or the success? It seems self-evident that if you feel proud of yourself, it is likely that you achieved some level of success first. But even before he gained fame, when he was still in high school, Bernie had a strong regard for himself. His widow, Rhonda, tells the story of the first time her mother met a teenage Bernie Mac:
“He rang the doorbell. I opened the door and my mother, she was coming past the hallway, and did she not say: ‘Oh, my God! Rhonda said you was dark. Oh, my God!’ And I said, ‘Mama!’ and she said, ‘well, he is.’ And I remember him saying, ‘yeah, I’m dark, but you ain’t never seen nobody pretty as me, have you?’ And she fell out. And from that moment, my mother was in love with him.’
How many people would wilt from such an encounter -- someone being shocked by your physical appearance -- and want to hide, or become embittered by feeling different and live a life full of resentment? But Bernie’s reaction is different. His reaction is that of a person who knows he will succeed in life. It is one of humor and understanding, of appreciation for who he is. He doesn’t care what you think of him, he knows he is beautiful and that is all that matters. There is nothing you can say to change that.
“That’s it. That’s all.”
And this is the core wisdom that we are privileged enough to learn from watching this movie: Do what you need to do to respect and cherish who you are, because no one will ever be able to take that away from you. And when you recognize that you are of value, your goals suddenly become achievable. Your light will shine through and others will respond to that. On the other hand, you won’t get very far by berating or belittling yourself, or by being down on yourself, all of which suggest disregard or contempt for who you are. Instead, love yourself enough to be the person you want to become. As Bernie says at the end of the documentary, “That’s it. That’s all.”
Related Scientific Study:
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803-855.
Bernie Mac On Poverty:
“We were so doggone poor man, we ate cereal with a fork, so we could pass the milk to the next individual. I remember my first three piece suit. That’s how poor we were: I wore the pants, my brother wore the vest, my sister wore the jacket.”
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