The Big Lebowski is more than a movie to plenty of people. It is a philosophy. It is a feeling. It is a way of life. It is one of our favorite movies of all time, and we know we’re not alone. The Big Lebowski is one of the most important films of the late ’90s. Some will argue that it is the most important movie that has ever been created. There are fans of this film all over the world along with themed parties and even festivals. Chances are there is a The Big Lebowski related event going on somewhere right now. It is a cult film in the most positive sense of the word. It is a must-see for everyone. If you haven’t seen it, keep reading, and then go see it after you’re done, keeping these lessons in mind.
The story is simple. The main character is Jeffrey Lebowski, otherwise known as “The Dude”. He is a jobless slacker in Los Angeles, the city of Angels, and he is a passionate bowler. He probably doesn’t do much outside of bowling and drinking white Russians. One day his house is broken into by some men who mistake him for a millionaire with the same name. During this housebreaking incident, the Dude’s rug gets urinated on. The story progresses from here as the Dude and his friends (Walter and Donny) are forced to help the millionaire Lebowski to find his “kidnapped” wife.
Though the film is full of amazing actors, including Jeff Bridges as the Dude, John Goodman as Walter, Steve Buscemi as Donny, Julianne Moore as Maude, along with Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro, Tara Reid and Sam Elliot in supporting roles; it is not their names and fame, but their characters what made the film so popular. The Big Lebowski is full of funny lines. One can watch it countless times and still find something new, something hilarious, and something crazy. This 1998 classic is full of teachings on which one can base a life philosophy. Here are our top 10 life lessons in The Big Lebowski.
10. “That rug really tied the room together.”
When his rug was urinated on, the Dude rightfully got upset. After all, that rug tied the room together nicely. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should buy a rug. It means that it is important to like the place in which you live. Decorate it in a way that it makes you happy. Buy some flowers to cheer you up. Put up pictures of those you love. This goes for your office, too. A pleasant environment is necessary for happiness. A home without at least some decoration and personal touch is just a building.
9. “Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not “Mr. Lebowski”. You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude. So that’s what you call me.”
When millionaire Mr. Lebowski called the Dude “Mr. Lebowski” (considering that the Dude’s name is also Lebowski), he was angry. It may have been a funny confrontation, but names are important. Ask people how they pronounce their name and what they prefer to be called. Using someone’s preferred name correctly shows a sign of respect and friendliness. Not that the millionaire was trying to be friendly or courteous by any means, later shouting “Get a job, sir!”
8. “Strong men cry.”
The wealthy Mr. Lebowski showed his softer side when his young trophy wife, Bunny was “kidnapped”. It turned out that the kidnapping never really happened, but the lesson was there. It was that tears don’t mean weakness. This is true for guys, too. Yes, men cry. Everyone is allowed to feel and show emotions. Don’t turn into a cry-baby, but when it’s appropriate and when the situation calls for it, show your emotions. Or cry when you are alone. The rule and lesson are flexible, figure out what works, just know that a tear here and there are allowed.
7. “Over the line!”
Walter Shoback respects rules and expects others to adhere to them. When opposing bowler Smokey stepped over the line during a league match, he clearly got upset, brandishing a pistol and threatening Smokey until he marked his score as a zero. Rules must be followed. Not only in the bowling alley but in all areas of life we need some rules and structure to keep balance and safety intact. Think about countries where the government has fallen apart or a chaotic classroom where the teacher lost control over the students: chaos and destruction. So respect the rules and don’t step over the line.
6. “This is what happens when you **** a stranger in the ***!”
Walter yelled this memorable phrase a few times at a frightened teenager when he thought he stole the million dollars. The lesson here is to treat people nicely. Respect other people’s property. You wouldn’t want someone else to scratch your car, to steal your money, or in any other way cause you harm or trouble. Don’t do that to other people. It may lead to aggression or in the case of Walter, a wrongfully destroyed car.
5. “I don’t roll on Shabbos!”
Walter doesn’t roll on Shabbos. “Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don’t work, I don’t drive a car, I don’t f*cking ride in a car, I don’t handle money, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as sh*t don’t f*cking roll!” The lesson here is that it doesn’t matter who you are, we all need rest and we all need to respect ourselves and our boundaries. To be healthy, you need rest. Rest means rest, and not taking an extra shift of work, taking a second job, fixing up the car, or cleaning the entire house. Rest is rest: sleep or active rest. Respect your body’s need of rest and expect others to respect it too.
4. “Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us.”
Donny was ignored and mistreated throughout the movie, as “shut the f*ck up, Donny! You’re out of your element” was a favorite dismissal often thrown around by Walter. But ultimately Walter and the Dude still remembered him as a good man, and a good friend. Donny’s character teaches us that you can be anybody, you can be just a regular little guy who is just “one of us” to be liked. You need to be kind and be a good person, and you will have friends. The sad twist of Donny’s death also shows us that we should treat our friends kindly when they are alive, too. Donny did that, he was always kind to his friends, and despite how he was treated, his friends remembered him fondly.
3. “Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.”
There is actually a confusion whether the Stranger said “bear” or “bar” when he spoke with the Dude in the end of the film. Either way, the message is the same. Life is unpredictable. You can’t predict what will happen. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You can’t have everything. Just deal with it. Don’t let it get you down, just accept it as a potentiality every day and live life with the knowledge that not everything can always go your way.
2. “The Dude Abides”
The Dude certainly wasn’t a successful man in terms of society’s definition of success. But the Dude was possibly the most successful man in terms of creating happiness in life. The Dude didn’t stress over things, you shouldn’t either. Stress is pointless, and leads to nothing positive if it can’t be controlled and properly channeled. If you can’t control the situation, don’t let it control you. Just accept it. Abide, like the Dude did. Which brings us to our last point.
1. “**** it, Dude. Let’s go bowling.”
The Big Lebowski is full of lessons, messages and of course, funny lines. But if you only had 5 seconds to summarize it, this is it. If life brings you lemons, learn to make lemonade from it. Life is life. Difficult situations, sad moments and unpleasant experiences will come up. Just learn to go with it and don’t let it get you down. You can’t control everything in life. Be able and willing to say “to hell with it” move on and enjoy life. Despite the fact that the main characters are an unemployed slacker, a chronically irrational Vietnam War veteran and whatever Donny was, it contains some very positive and motivational messages.