Four Nerdy Star Wars Lessons to Change Your Life

3 min read

green frog figurine on brown wooden table
green frog figurine on brown wooden table

What makes Star Wars so compelling and relatable to millions of people?

The truthfulness of it and the wisdom that we intuitively grasp.

You see, George Lucas created his space opera using Joseph Campbell’s concept of “Hero’s Journey.” He intertwined humanity’s shared themes of dark and light, love and family, courage and fear, justice and power with timeless lessons that define them. By doing so, he crossed the boundaries of time, culture, and experience delivering powerful lessons.

While Disney, in my opinion, destroyed the original narrative with Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, the deeply relatable nature of Lucas’s storytelling continues to resonate.

Today is Star Wars Day, so I wanted to share a couple of lessons inspired by it:

1) YOUR ATTENTION DETERMINES YOUR REALITY.

Whatever you focus on – grows. If you focus on the dark side, it will envelop you; if you embrace the light, it will empower you.

Try this exercise: decide to look for a grey Toyota. If you think about it, look for it for a few days, you will suddenly start seeing it everywhere. 

This is why gratitude exercises can be so powerful.

That said, this type of focus only works if it's not trying to cover up for a deeper truth . . .

2) DON’T IGNORE YOUR SHADOWS — FACE THEM.

Throughout the saga, we see Anakin Skywalker ignoring his true emotions, forcing a different outcome contrary to his truth.

Although Obi-Wan Kenobi warns him to watch his thoughts, he also enables him (and fails him) by never actually engaging with him about it.

The Jedi Council does the same — at no point does Master Yoda or others sit down with Anakin to help him process these thoughts and feelings he should not have. 

In truth, the dark size emerges--anger, hatred, guilt, resentment--when we ignore our true feelings, however shameful they might feel. (We can ignore the moon all we want, but the moon will still be there!)

They merely tell him not to focus on them.

This stems from their own arrogance.

The more concerning and unexplained things they kept witnessing, the more confused and arrogant they become.

Arrogance sits at the intersection of our insecurities (fears) and our inability to detach from our perceived identity.

 The Jedi were unquestioned masters of the Force, set in their ways and rules, certain of their power; how could the Sith possibly come back – in their midst? 

This identity (we are this way, the world is that way, and nothing could change it) coupled with a fear they might be wrong (and Jedi could not possibly be wrong) led them to arrogance.

Yoda admits this at the end of Episode III.

Facing our shadows requires humility, radical openness, and a deliberate willingness to look and, indeed, be wrong, too.

Consequently, it also requires a willingness to change--to let go of our ego and our attachment to our past identity.

But to do that, we need something else ...

3) COURAGE IS THE DIFFERENTIATING INGREDIENT.

In Anais Nin’s words, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to our courage."

Anakin didn’t have enough courage to face his demons. The Jedi Council didn’t either — they pretended there was no problem and hoped for the best.

Do you remember what happened as a result?

Anakin experienced the very thing he was afraid of: he lost his wife, children, his Padawan, his best friend, and more.

Most importantly, he lost himself.

He was only saved, in the end, by someone determined to take his father's courage to the next level: Luke.

There’s a powerful lesson in this: what you run away from catches with you.

As Yoda puts it, fear is the path to the dark side.

Mind you: courage isn’t the absence of fear, but our willingness to do it afraid.

This isn’t easy, but we can’t live any other virtue properly without courage because courage assures all others.  

4) HEALING IS KEY.

90% of who we are is programmed in the first seven years of our life. For most of us, that programming isn’t helpful later in life. Therefore, we must re-program.

This often requires deep healing.

Think of Anakin; if he’d had the proper guidance to heal from the loss of his mother, slavery, and all kinds of other traumas, he probably would not have fallen under Sidious’s spell.

Think about it, Chancellor Palpatine spent 13 years molding, brainwashing, influencing Anakin. Imagine where he’d been if Yoda had been as effective! 

But their focus was different: Yoda left a lot to chance and taught him external performance (i.e., be this way to fit the mold and expectations of a Jedi), whereas Palpatine left nothing to chance and validated Anakin's hurts, victimhood, and anger, creating the Darth Vader.

There was no healing.

Padmé felt soothing to Anakin, but she didn’t heal him.

She couldn’t

No one could.

Healing requires you to do it.

(Check out a few other lessons inspired by Star Wars here.)

I hope these lessons help guide you on your path of living on the light side!

May the Force be with you!