5 Things Avatar Taught Me About Self-Improvement

I’m not a hyper when it comes to movies. On the contrary, I wait a lot before going to see a big blockbuster. I saw Titanic 3 years after the launch. Matrix 2 years after the initial hype. But last year I took the plunge and went to see Avatar.

In short, I liked it. A lot. I saw it in IMAX, 3D and all. Didn’t had any motion sickness, although some of the people around seemed to be uncomfortable with those 3D glasses and some of them even left the movie after a few minutes. I don’t know if it was the 3D experience, the stunning imagery, or the story, fact is Avatar was definitely a milestone in movies. At least for yours truly.

But since we’re talking (mainly) about being brilliantly better on this blog, in today’s post I’ll not give you a movie review (as much as I’d want to). Instead, I’ll try to outline some of the self-improvement tricks Avatar either taught me for the first time, either confirmed to me again.

1. Limitation Is Only In Your Mind

When Jake Sully arrives on Pandora, he is just a paraplegic ex-marine. He is taking on a job he doesn’t know anything about. He doesn’t really like anything about this new world. And nobody seems to like him either. He’s just used in a strange communication program in which he’s taking on the body of a local Na’vi male, his so-called Avatar. But as the story unfolds, it turns out the Jake Sully is much more than everyone around him sees in him. He’s even more than he thought he can be. At the end of the beautiful story, instead of a paraplegic ex-marine we find a truly inspiring leader, a man in love and a powerful warrior. And all he did was to literally get rid of the old self and become a completely new person.

Every once in a while life brings you into places which may seem harsh and impossible to overcome. But the word “impossible” holds true only in your current context. So, change it. If your current self can’t handle the job, become somebody else. Like Jake did.

2. If You Want To Get To Planet A You Have To Completely Leave Planet B

As a spy in the Na’vi world, working for the greedy corporation in search for “unobtanium”, Jake Sully discovers a new universe. He expected to meet “savages” but instead, he finds compassion, knowledge and real feelings. Compared with his cold and dark military life, the free and sparkling life of the Na’vi, as dangerous as it may get at times, especially when male rivalries are at the stake, that life, well, it’s simply a miracle. A miracle which attracts Jake so much, that he is willing to get rid of his old existence and become a true Na’vi. But he soon discovers that he can’t live in two places at the same time. He has to make a tough choice. Leave behind everything that was familiar and start anew, literally reborn.

The same approach applied to every situation in which you want to drastically change something in your life: your current relationship, your income level or your lifestyle. You can’t just wear this new avatar every once in a while, pretending you’re rich and happy, only to wake up in your own bed in the morning, broke and miserable. You have to become your own avatar.

3. Disappointment Is Part Of Life

This may be a little hard to chew. When Jake Sully comes into the life of the Na’vi people, all he wants is to screw them. That’s his motivation. He comes there by curiosity but also by the promise of hist captain that, if he provides enough “intelligence on the field”, he will get back his legs. But once in the field, Jake realizes that he’s on the wrong team. And that he’s in love with Neytiri. Only it’s a little bit too late. What he started cannot be stopped. The chaos is unleashed and the Na’vi are almost destroyed. Neytiri rejects him and he has to leave. If Jake would have stopped at this level, his only outcome would have been disappointment. Fortunately, he doesn’t stop. But the disappointment he created is still real.

We may hit disappointment. We may disappoint others or others may disappoint us. What really matters is to raise above our own limitations. This is exactly what Jake Sully does when he decides to tame Toruk Makto and to become the new leader of the Na’vi.

4. Pick Your Team Carefully

Just after he arrives on Pandora, Sully teams up with a military guy. In exchange of the information Sully would give from the field, using his avatar, this military guy promises Sully to give back his legs. In his “real” life Sully is walking in a wheel chair. As a former marine, this is one of the scars he wears. The information acquired by Sully will serve for the commercial expansion of Pandora’s conquerers. But, sometimes during his new life, Sully discovers that his former team was playing him. That he was just used in a bigger, more violent plan which will ultimately leads to the destruction of Pandora’s world. And he also discovers that the new world he is discovering is purer, nicer, simpler than his initial one. Oh, and it’s also filled with love.

The world is changing. Your values are changing. Your priorities are changing. Make sure you’re always in sync with what you really care for. Make sure you’re playing on a team which supports you in a genuine way, which respects you, which cares for you. If not, go for the next team that does this for you.

5. The Only Thing Worth Fighting For Is Love

As an avatar of the Na’vi population, Sully gets to know Neytiri, the daughter of the Na’avi leader. She becomes his guide on this new world. Sully learns the Na’vi way of life, their traditions and their values. He goes into a rite of passage where he learns how to fly a dragon. At some point, Sully falls in love with Neytiri. But the gap between those souls is huge. He is not what he seems to be. Even more, his actions are casting a wave of death and destruction over this world. His love is worthless without action. Hurt and disappointed, Neytiri rejects him. He almost gets killed in the conflict. But is the same love for Neytiri that makes him reach to the sky and tame the biggest bird on Pandora, Toruk Makto.

You know it’s love if you’d be willing to do everything, and I mean, everything for it. Reach to the sky, tame the biggest beast on the universe and bring it to the feet of your love. Everything else is just an illusion (including fight itself, if it’s without a purpose). The only thing worth fighting for is love. And when the love is won back, forget the fight all together.


Ok, now it’s your turn. What’s your take on this? What Avatar changed in your life (if anything)?

15 thoughts on “5 Things Avatar Taught Me About Self-Improvement”

  1. Wow this is one of the most interesting conversations Ive seen based around that movie. Leaving planet A for B is both funny and true. You do have to commit absolutely if you truly want to change. Can be hard to find the courage sometimes though!

  2. As if I haven’t already heard how great this film is (I haven’t seen it), you have given me reason to make the effort! I’ll report back!


  3. Hi Dragos. I absolutely love this post. In fact, I started writing an article the movie Avatar after I watched it; but I never even published it. What is amazing is that the big lessons I found in the movie are not the same as those you’ve listed here. I’m astounded that one movie could deliver so many life lessons. And you did a great job drawing correlations between Avatar and real-life.

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  5. I love the movie show, Avatar! You’ve certainly brought back memories of the beautiful shots in the movie. It’s nice that you related it all back to love, a wonderful reminder to celebrate relationships in the month of February.

    Shared, twittered and stumbled!

  6. I loved this movie. While before watching it I had laughed at the people who got depressed because they couldn’t go live among the Na’vi, afterward I understood why they felt that way. Fortunately, rather than allowing that desire to turn inward, I was able to turn it outward, in an effort to make humans more like the Na’vi (or at least to live my life in a more Na’vi-esque manner, and hope that others would do the same).

  7. There’s a 6th point that a local Malaysian artist made quite succinctly: “Ada kereta ada amoi” (literally translated: got car got girl). It was a jab at how Neytiri suddenly became all supportive for him when he got a bigger and better….bird.

    I just found it very humorous that the Na’vi’s (and Neytiri’s) perception of him changed after he got the Toruk Makto. Just goes to show what a symbol of power and authority can do for you in terms of communication and standing.

  8. Congrats, an excellent article. It looks like the say that great minds think alike is selldom an overstatment.

    I also saw a fabulous story with hundreds of metaphores and myths; a modern Harap Alb, a Dinotopian Flyer’s challange, the Tree of life, Elvish mysticism, the environmental fight, the terrans as invaders and alien manece etc

    I love this movie

    Only one little bug, it is Jake tames “Turuk”, he becomes Turuk Makto.

  9. I haven’t seen Avatar, but in real life I created the biggest change in my life with learning to forgive others for the pain that they caused me, and then I learned to forgive myself for my causing others pain. It is a two way path when people are feeling or causing pain.

    After many other life lessons I now live a life of happiness and bliss. I also live in my own personal paradise with the love of my life. I’ve just started a blog about this journey.

    Dragos, I found your site through Henri. Very good site you have. I will sign up to follow you by email. Lee

  10. Not a great movie but some great graphics.
    I guess any movie has it’s teachings it’s only about you to extract them.
    What about Inception what did that movie inspire to you!
    I liked it much more that Avatar.

  11. Hi Dragos!
    It’s a great post!I saw The Avatar several times, I also like it a lot. And this post made it even better. You’re right with all these points! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and this post! It’s great! 😉


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