Everyone loves a good animated movie; most of us have grown up with them. We cheered on our heroes as they tackled the obstacles in their lives, we felt for the characters when they went through extreme hardships, and we may have even cried or felt sad when characters passed away.
We encouraged our favorite animated characters as they tried new things, burst through barriers and escaped what was holding them back. We were not only entertained, but we also picked up a few good lessons along the way.
Here are five life lessons you may have learned through these amazing films from Disney, DreamWorks, Pixar and others.
Many times we find ourselves in difficult situations. When life gets tough, we must overcome our fears and face them head on.
Take the story of "The Lion King," when Simba is chased away from home by his Uncle Scar after Scar murders his father. Simba escapes to the jungle where he adapts to a new life of "Hakuna Matata," a life of no worries or responsibilities.
But Syracuse junior Sierra Pullum says, "You have to face your fears if you ever want to overcome them."
And that's what Simba finally does when he returns to Pride Rock and faces Scar.
"It took a large amount of courage to confront himself and Scar," says Karissa Strate, a Bonneville junior. "Especially because (of) all the years Simba had been hiding from the guilt of believing he was responsible for his father's death."
Or in Disney's "Hercules," Meg jumps in the way as she sees a pillar falling toward Hercules, and saves his life. She says in her dying breath, "Sometimes you do crazy things when you're in love."
Courage isn't just sacrificing for yourself, but very often for those you care about and love.
Don't give up
Mulan -- star of Disney's "Mulan" -- is told something that really rings true: "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all."
Mulan is one of those flowers. She started out feeling like she was never good enough for anyone. Then she took her father's place in the army and endured many hardships in training. After going out to battle and being actually cast out, she fights her way back and ultimately saves China.
It is important not to give up "because tomorrow will be a better day. If we give up now, we can't see our great potential for the future," says Pullum.
When life gets hard, Dory of "Finding Nemo" also gives us some great advice: "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming." Take on your hardships one step at a time, and you can conquer them.
"If you never try new things, you can never grow," says Katie Handy, a Clearfield senior.
Trying and discovering new things and following our dreams are vital to truly experiencing life.
In Disney's "Tangled," Rapunzel tries to make the best of being locked up in her lonely tower, but she has a dream to leave. Her dream is to see the lights that go off every year, on her birthday. When she asks her mom about going, she receives a strict "No!"
But she still kept her dream, and, finally, she decides to take a chance. With a swing of her hair, Rapunzel jumps off her tower with Flynn Ryder to go and see the annual light display. Just like this heroine, sometimes we have to take advantage of opportunities and go for something new that might sound scary at first. If we take chances, amazing new doors start to open up that we never knew of before.
See inner worth
It would really be a better world if people didn't judge by outer appearances. The old phrase, "Don't judge a book by its cover," is true because a person's inner personality is far more important than outward appearance.
In DreamWorks's "Shrek," Fiona doesn't turn out to be who Shrek thought she was at first. After being pleasantly surprised, Fiona ever-so-nicely replies, "Well, maybe you shouldn't judge people before you get to know them."
Or Clearfield senior Ashley Bailey says, "In 'Beauty and the Beast,' as Belle was in the castle and first caught a glimpse of the Beast, she was terrified because he was an ugly monster. But as she spent more time with him and she realized he was actually beautiful inside, she accepted him for who he was. She would have never known how he really was without giving the Beast a chance."
When a friend or family member passes away, it is always extremely difficult. Many teens have gone through this kind of hardship and know what it feels like.
In "Up," Carl and Ellie marry and live a long, happy life filled with amazing memories and dreams of reaching the far-away Paradise Falls. When Ellie passes away in this Disney film, Carl, heartbroken, feels he is left with nothing and hides away in his house.
"It is always hard after someone you love and care for has passed away, but it's not the end for you," says Bailey.
Handy adds, "You need to remember the person and what they stood for, but if you don't let go and move on, you will miss essential life experiences and stop growing." She also says, "The thing to remember is that while they may be gone physically, they will always be with us spiritually as our guardian angels, until the end."
One of the most pivotal scenes in "Up" is when Carl finally opens the book and sees something Ellie had written that he never saw before: "Thanks for the adventure." Then her final words say, "Now go have a new one."
Bailey says of this final scene: "Once he opened the book and realized there are memories within, he also realized that he can move on. Ellie made his life wonderful and when she passed it was devastating to him. But by looking in the book he realized life wasn't a waste but merely worth living for. And that helped him to move forward."
In "Lilo & Stitch," Lilo -- who had lost her parents years ago -- says, " 'Ohana' means family. Family means no one gets left behind, or forgotten."
So it turns out there are some amazing life lessons packed into animated movies -- examples of strength, perseverance, believing in your dreams and many more. If we can apply some of these lessons to our own lives, they may give us some great traits and values.
Nathan Beeston is a sophomore at Syracuse High School. Contact him at email@example.com.