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9 life lessons from kimmy schmidt



When I find a new TV show I like, I get really into it. My latest obsession? Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which I've been binge watching on Netflix. I'm a big fan of the whole fish-out-of-water concept (hence my obsession with the film Elf), and I'm (not surprisingly) obsessed with uber-positive characters like Buddy the Elf, Chris from Parks & Recreation, and my latest favorite: Kimmy. 

If you haven't seen the show, the premise is this: Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, in real live) was trapped with three other women in a bunker for 15 years and has just emerged into the modern world of NYC, where she's discovering the modern world, making new friends, and struggling with romance. It sounds like a silly premise, but it's such an uplifting and funny show that I can overlook some of the nonsense that comes along with it. 

The best thing about the show is Kimmy's positive attitude. Even when she was trapped in the bunker, led to believe the world had ended by a creepy reverend (played by the hilarious John Hamm), she maintained an optimistic outlook and tried to keep her fellow captives' spirits uplifted. And when she got out of the bunker and found the world much changed in the 15 years she'd missed, she doesn't mope around, thinking about how helpless she is. She takes her life into her own hands, using her determination and optimism to move to NYC, find a job and place to live, and make new friends. 

Whether or not you've seen the show, here are some excellent life lessons (and great Kimmy quotes!) you can take away from Kimmy and her adventures: 


"A person can stand just about anything for ten seconds." 

I've always been a fan of taking things one day at a time. Sometimes the whole oh-my-god-this-is-going-to-last-forever mindset can really take its toll, and focusing on a smaller block of time can make whatever you're going through more manageable. However, I'd never thought about taking things in a tiny ten-second time block. It makes a lot of sense though, particularly if you're going through something really tough (like Kimmy was when she was forced to turn the "mystery crank" in the dark, dank bunker). Taking something ten seconds at a time is also a great way to stay in the moment. 


"We're not garbage! We're human beings!" 

Even though for years Kimmy and her fellow captives had been told that they were dumb, that they were garbage, Kimmy doesn't allow the negativity to get to her. Despite all of the harsh words she endured for a decade and a half, she comes out of the bunker believing that she has worth. Kimmy focuses on the skills she does have instead of dwelling on all she doesn't know about the world. When trying to win over a future employer, she says, "I'm a hard worker, I'm proficient in WordPerfect and Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, and I can hold my breath for a real long time." Even though she has a lot to learn, she focuses on her strengths and celebrates her worth. 


"Smile until you feel better. I call it Kimmying." 

While I don't advise pretending things are fine when they're not (negative emotions always resurface somehow so it's better to deal with them and move forward rather than avoid them), I do think there's something to be said for Kimmying, aka putting a smile on your face even when you don't necessarily feel like smiling. It's even been proven scientifically that the act of smiling might actually make you feel happier. It seems to work for Kimmy — she consistently makes an effort to put a smile on her face and on the faces of others, even when things aren't going well — so it's worth giving it a try the next time you're not feeling so great.  


"A female dog? The thing that makes puppies? Nice compliment!"

Kimmy has to deal with quite a few haters in her new post-bunker life. But does she let them take her down and make her feel bad about herself? Nope! Every time someone insults her, she finds a way to put a positive spin on the putdown. Like when her boss's stepdaughter calls her a bitch and she responds with, "A female dog? The thing that makes puppies? Nice compliment!" It's a small example, but it represents pretty well how Kimmy takes whatever situation she finds herself in and tries to turn it into a positive. She has to go through some pretty tough stuff, but finding the good helps her overcome every challenge she faces. 


“Age doesn’t matter. You can die at any time.”

While this Kimmy quote might sound a little dark (and it is), it's also a pretty wise reminder that life is short and the end is often unknown. It's easy for Kimmy, who has been trapped underground for years, to seize the day and strive to make the most of life after missing out on so much, but how often do we really stop and think about how short and unpredictable life is? Whether you're old or young, you only have a short time on this Earth and, like Kimmy, you should make the most of it by appreciating the fact that every day you're alive is a gift. It might sound a bit grim, but it's a useful reminder for making the most of every moment. 


"I was trying to have fun and then I made everything weird 'cause I'm weird."

After being trapped underground with access to only four other people for years and years, it's no surprise that Kimmy emerges a little bit... odd. In some ways, she's stuck in the past, as her fifteen-year-old self, and she's very unfamiliar with current technology and trends. This makes her a little weird in the eyes of the other characters, but Kimmy embraces her weirdness. She admits that she doesn't know a lot about the modern world ("Hashbrown, no filter."), but she strives to learn and doesn't hesitate to ask questions. But while she's learning about the world, she's also unafraid to be herself. She wears what she wants, says what she wants, and befriends who she wants. And because she's so confident in who she is (weird as that might be at times), others are drawn to her. 


"Everything you've said about your boyfriend is straight out of Baby-Sitter's Club Mystery #12." 

This quote might not make too much sense without the plot context, but (spoiler alert!) here's what happens: Kimmy uncovers a lie her boss's stepdaughter has been telling by recognizing that the stepdaughter's story is the word-for-word plot of Baby-Sitter's Club Mystery #12, one of the two books she had with her in the bunker. Kimmy has a lot to learn about the world (don't we all!), but she uses what little knowledge she has to discover truths and make the most of whatever situations she finds herself in. Sometimes it's tempting to think you don't know enough about a situation or topic, but if you dig deep, you might find that you know a lot more than you thought.  


"Changing your outside isn't going to fix what's wrong on the inside."

In one episode, Kimmy and her boss begin to believe they can fix their problems by changing their appearance. But when Kimmy goes under anesthesia to have a face transplant (ridiculous, I know), she realizes you can't fix the inside by fixing the outside. A lot of us probably struggle with this — thinking if we were prettier/thinner, had a different job, had a romantic relationship, etc. that things would be better. But change comes from the inside. No matter what we do on the outside, if we don't work to change what's going on inside, we'll never create real change. (I actually write about this exact thing in the Introduction of my book The Positively Present Guide to Life, where I talk about how the concept of Positively Present came to be.)


"Let me take care of the rent for a little while!" 

One of Kimmy's most admirable traits is her ability a great friend. She doesn't have a lot in the way of money, power, or possessions, but what she does have, she's happy to give to others. Not only does she offer to take care of the rent for her new friend, Titus, but she offers emotional support for all of her friends, listening to their troubles and offering to help in whatever way she can. Sometimes she might go a little out of her way helping people, but it's really inspiring how she puts the needs of others before her own. She's the kind of person that anyone would love to have as a friend, a true inspiration for creating strong, lasting relationships with others. 



The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song is one of the catchiest tunes I've ever heard (I find myself singing it all the time!) and one of the best parts of the show, in my opinion. The song features a snippet from an interview of someone who'd observed Kimmy and her bunk-mates coming out of the bunker after 15 years. In the interview, the witness says, "... but females are strong as hell." It's one of the best lines from the show and pretty much the show's catchphrase. It's such a great reminder that, even when they struggle and face unimaginable challenges, women are incredibly strong and resourceful and can make the best of even the worst situations. So, in case you didn't already know, here's one of the most important life lessons from Kimmy: females are strong as hell! 




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