7 Walt Disney Quotes That Will Change Your Perspective on Life
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a Disney fan. As a child, my favorite movie of all time was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I would watch it over and over again, crying out to warn Snow White every time she was about to bite into the evil witch’s apple. There was just something so magical about Disney films.
Then I went to Disney World, and my conception of ‘magic’ grew exponentially. Disney World wasn’t (and still isn’t) like other theme parks, where the rides are the main draw and everything else is just thin decoration. At Disney World, monumental care is given to even the tiniest details — from the ‘hidden Mickeys’ (on everything from restaurant menus to flower arrangements) to the security guard who treats every little costumed girl as a real princess, even going so far as to ask for their autographs. Magic is conjured from those tiny details, and even as an adult, I still find Disney World to be the happiest, most magical place on earth.
But all of this would be impossible without the eponymous Walt Disney himself, who grew a global magical empire from the tiniest of seeds: Mickey Mouse, who he created in 1928. As Walt always said, “I hope we never lose sight of one thing — that it was all started by a mouse.”
Walt’s wisdom doesn’t end there. Here are seven of Walt’s most poignant and moving quotes to help you unlock your inner child, refresh your imagination, and find a bit of magic in your own life.
“Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows.”
This quote surprised me when I first read it — Walt Disney, the king of bringing joy to children and adults alike, the master of happy magic, acknowledging — and even embracing — the fact that life isn’t always smooth and perfect. In fact, he says it’s a bad thing to pretend life is always perfect, a sentiment that I think is so important in today’s culture of social media influencers and celebrities who carefully curate their images to ensure their lives look unattainably incredible. Life is not perfect, and it is often the ‘shadows’ Disney speaks of that let us really bask in the light, when it comes. The beauty of life is in the contrasts.
“Why worry? If you’ve done the very best you can, worrying won’t make it any better.”
Even before I read this quote, this was something I told myself and my friends and family often. As a Type A person, it’s in my nature to worry — Did I perform perfectly on that test? Did I play amazingly in that volleyball game? Did I deliver that presentation as well as possible? In the end, the answers to these questions aren’t important, because on each occasion, I did the best I could. Taking Walt’s advice is a step on the path to self-compassion — don’t beat yourself up over something if you tried your best, because your best is all you can do. Have some empathy for yourself, accept yourself wherever you are, and let the worries fall aside. You’ll feel better, I promise.
“The worst of us is not without innocence, although buried deeply it might be.”
It’s really easy, especially in today’s climate, to think the worst of people. I always try to remember that even if someone has acted hatefully toward me, that person is still a human being worthy of respect and dignity. Often, people lash out because they are dealing with their own internal struggles, and it’s so easy to forget that when we’ve been hurt. This bit of Disney wisdom reminds us to think of people with kindness and empathy, even when it may be extremely difficult to do so. Approaching the world in this way not only helps those who are struggling, but it also helps us — we become happier, kinder, and more forgiving.
“A man should never neglect his family for business.”
I’m going to amend that to “People should never neglect their families for business” — but the sentiment remains the same. Walt Disney said this over half a century ago, and it seems so straightforward — yet our workaholic culture is so pervasive that even something this simple is a struggle to realize in our lives. In the end, family (whether the one we were born into, the one we made, or the one we pulled together), is all we have. As we stand on the precipice of a new decade, here’s to hoping that ‘work-life balance’ becomes more than just a buzzy corporate phrase.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
This quote resonates with me quite deeply. Last year, I quit my corporate job to pursue my dream of becoming a full-time writer. At the time, I was absolutely terrified —not only was I nervous about leaving my position of security, but I was also worried about my ability to actually earn a living as a freelance writer. I had a lot of support to help me make my decision, but the hardest part was summoning up the courage to actually commit to the biggest change in my life. And boy, I’m so glad I did! Now, just six months later, I have a fantastic literary agent, a novel out on submission to publishers, and a successful healthcare copywriting business.
We all have secret dreams within us, and so many of us let fear stop us from pursuing them. Don’t let fear hold you back for one more day — rally your courage, your curiosity, and your work ethic, and you will accomplish amazing things.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
When I was a child, books were portals to other worlds— fantastic, scary, beautiful, adventurous, and everything in between. Books took me on incredible journeys, taught me life lessons, grew my empathy, and helped me learn about everything from evolution to space travel. My vocabulary grew, my imagination flowered, and my creativity sparked like a live wire. As adults, books are more important than ever, because they connect us to our imaginations, our world, each other, and ourselves. Walt Disney was spot-on when he said books are the true treasure.
“That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget.”
With this quote, Walt was talking about the unfortunate path many adults follow that leads them to not only exit childhood, but also to exile childhood from their grown-up atmosphere completely. They build an impenetrable wall between childhood and adulthood and stay determined to keep childhood in the past. Perhaps, at one point, this seemed like the right thing to do — grow up, forget about silly children’s pursuits, and move on. Disney insists that far from the right thing to do, this exile of the child within us all is actively damaging. After all, wouldn’t the world be a better place if everybody were more in touch with their imaginations? If we could all see the magic that underlies so many wonderful things on earth? If we could access that well of happy, carefree, creative emotions we so easily felt as children? I, for one, agree with Walt — that would certainly be a fantastic world to live in.
I hope these bits of Disney wisdom bring you as much comfort and inspiration as they have brought me. Most of all, I hope they help you break down that wall between your inner child and your adult self and let some of that magic flow into you once again.