Generations of moviegoers would agree with the American Film Institute who voted Casablanca the top romantic film of the last 100 years. On the other hand, it’s so much more than that.
Humphrey Bogart finds happiness by giving up the woman he loves so her husband can continue saving the world from Nazi forces. According to the legend, the ending wasn’t written until the last minute, but it seems inevitable. Without the heroics, Casablanca would have been just another run-of-the-mill love triangle.
While you may not be a World War II resistance fighter, you too can add more joy and meaning to your life by caring for others. Think about what Casablanca has to say about kindness and compassion.
Lessons on Kindness from Casablanca
Kindness is a warm and friendly feeling that motivates you to be gentle and generous. While Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick Blaine claims that he doesn’t stick his neck out for others, his friends suspect that he’s a sentimentalist deep down.
1. Be patient. Most residents of Casablanca are waiting to emigrate to someplace safer. It’s easier to be tolerant when you realize that others are wrestling with their own issues.
2. Extend hospitality. It’s really no surprise that Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, walks into Rick’s gin joint. Music, gambling, and other fun make it a place where everyone comes. You can help others feel good by giving them your attention even if you don’t operate a casino.
3. Live in the present. On the other hand, Rick might be friendlier if he stopped brooding about the old days in Paris. Come to terms with your past instead of trying to protect yourself from your memories. That way you can enjoy the here and now.
4. Keep trying. Rick starts out being too jealous to help Ingrid Bergman and her husband. Give yourself time to make kindness a habit.
5. Expand your thinking. Rick decides that the problems of three little people are a hill of beans compared to world peace. While your welfare is important, you can develop perspective by validating the experiences of others.
Lessons on Compassion from Casablanca
Empathizing with other’s struggles is one half of compassion, and the other part is the desire to provide relief. Casablanca is full of practical suggestions about how to help out.
1. Communicate openly. A lot of trouble may have been avoided if Ilsa was honest with Rick back in Paris instead of disappearing without any explanation. While it’s uncomfortable to deliver unpleasant news, talking things over encourages healing.
2. Do meaningful work. Rick had a long history of supporting worthy causes before he hid himself away in Casablanca, and the movie ends with him moving off the sidelines. Seeing how your efforts make a difference will give you satisfaction regardless of your paycheck.
3. Team up. Rick’s famous line about starting a beautiful friendship comes as he walks off into the moonlight with the police captain who just helped Ilsa and her husband escape. You can do more for others when you work with a partner.
4. Think long term. Rick warns Ilsa that she’ll have regrets if she chooses him over her husband. To make sound decisions, evaluate the lasting consequences of your actions instead of focusing on instant gratification.
5. Start small. The more you practice compassion, the more skillful you will become. Cook dinner for a friend who’s recovering from surgery or let someone experience the joy of helping you.
Casablanca is the kind of movie that gets better each time you watch it. Identifying with Rick makes you feel good about yourself and shows you how to begin beautiful friendships of your own.