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What We Can Learn from “Unbroken”

It wasn’t a typical Friday night for me. Normally, Friday’s are for taking it easy and unwinding a bit from a busy week and staying at home, but this time around the husband and myself went out to the movies and we saw “Unbroken”.  I had read the book last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Once I heard a movie was going to be released based on the book and the true story of Louis Zamperini, I knew that I had to get to the theaters and see it eventually.

I left the movie theater that night with a renewed sense of purpose and a complete new perspective on what it is like to go through something that is “hard”.  In fact, I came up with a small list that I will share with you below.

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1.  My definition of “tough circumstances” changed.

I did read the book “Unbroken”, but the movie really did a great job matching the words and the scenes in my head into actual pictures that I could relate it all to.  The unimaginable circumstances that Louis Zamperini survived will probably forever be in the back of my mind.

I go through each day and almost always something comes up and I think to myself, ‘Well, this is going to be difficult’, or ‘This sucks, how am I going to get this done.’  I know when those moments come at me again, I need to look at it with a new perspective.  Anything is possible.  Anything can be done.  Anything can be survived.  Nothing can be as hard as surviving that many days at sea or that many days being abused mentally and physically in those POW camps.

Life is really not at all bad considering what others, like Louis, have gone through in their lives as a soldier.  I need to be thankful daily about how good I’ve got it and keep things into perspective.

2.  The right attitude can make anything possible.  It is your choice.

I honestly do not think Louis Zamperini would have survived anything that he went through in WWII if he didn’t have the right attitude.

During their time at sea on the raft, he was the one that kept the other two on their toes.  He truly had a belief that they would survive and kept encouraging the others to stay positive as well.  Without that attitude and positive encouragement, there is no way they could have lasted half that time in the sea.

It just goes to show that a positive attitude is contagious and it helps you see the good in almost any situation.  If we are able to control our attitude appropriately, then we can battle any adversity that comes our way.  Battling adversity is a part of life and successful people use it as an opportunity rather than an excuse.

3.  Forgiveness is the best alternative to hate and it can set you free.

Louis Zamperini was mentally and physically tortured on a daily basis in the POW camps in Japan during WWII.  He was, unfortunately, targeted daily by the hated “Bird”.  Louis could do everything right and it didn’t matter.  The Bird had it out for him and never gave him a moment of freedom from abuse.

Several years after the war and after a long battle of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), however, Louis found his way back to Japan.  He not only set foot back on the soil of the very country that kept him captive, but he forgave his captors, including The Bird.  He even wanted to confront and forgive The Bird in person, but he declined to meet with Louis.  No matter, Louis still forgave.

Forgiveness.  This is a powerful tool that we must all have in our arsenal.  I know there are many people that have come and gone throughout our lives that have done us wrong, but if we do not forgive then we are the ones ultimately living in the cage guilt.  We need to love people when they least expect it or least deserve it, just like Louis did with The Bird.

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If you have not seen the movie, then I highly recommend you to read the book and then see the movie.  The book is rich in detail and gives you not only every detail of Louis Zamperini’s life, but it also is a great historical account on WWII.

So many soldiers have stories very similar to Mr. Zamperini and for that we owe so much appreciation and thanks to those WWII Veterans.  The strength and resolve they all had (and have while some are serving as we speak) is the greatest gift for us all.  Not only are we protected, but we can also learn a great deal from each story.