7 Life Lessons From 'Forrest Gump' on Its 20th Anniversary

The Tom Hanks classic may be 20, but these takeaways are eternal.

ByABC News
July 6, 2014, 6:33 AM
Tom Hanks  in Forrest Gump, 1994.
Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, 1994.
Paramount Pictures

— -- intro: Believe it or not, "Forrest Gump" turns 20 today. The drama, for which Tom Hanks earned a best actor Oscar, follows a southern man named Forrest Gump through his extraordinary life, which includes brushes with Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy and other historical figures. One of the most quoted movies of our time, the lessons Forrest taught and learned are eternal. Here are a few.

quicklist: 1title: You'll Never Know What You're Capable Of If You Don't Trytext: Forrest Gump was born with a back that was "as crooked as a politician," requiring him to wear braces on his legs. A constant target for bullies, his only childhood friend famously advised him to "run, Forrest, run!" when they began picking on him. He broke free of his braces and later enjoyed a successful career as a college athlete. (Then he ran across the country for three years, but that's another lesson.) Always try. You may surprise yourself.

quicklist: 2title: To Have Good Friends, Be a Good Friendtext: There were no better friends than Forrest and Bubba, whom he met at war in Vietnam. Not only did they sleep back-to-back to avoid the mud, but after Bubba died, Forrest lived out Bubba's dream of being a shrimping boat captain. Forrest was a good friend to Bubba because Bubba was so loyal to him. It's simple: Be kind.

quicklist: 3title: Pay Attention text: During Forrest's run across the country, he became the inspiration for the famous smiley-face yellow t-shirt and the bumper sticker, "S*** happens." Always listen when people are speaking to you and keep your eyes open.

quicklist: 4title: Do What You Love, No Matter What text: Forrest loved mowing the lawn so much that he did it even when he was a "gazillionaire." From the outside, that must have looked foolish, but he didn't care: He was always true to himself. Be honest with yourself about what makes you happy.

quicklist: 5title: Stay Positive and Focusedtext: When Lieutenant Dan lost his legs in the Vietnam War, he grew depressed and did everything he could to distract himself from his problems. However, after joining Forrest on his shrimping boat and later investing their earnings in a new technology company by the name of Apple, his life turned around dramatically. Stay positive and always look ahead. Better days are coming.

quicklist: 6title: It's Great to Give Backtext: After earning a fortune, Forrest gave Bubba's portion of the shrimping boat business to Bubba's family. "There's only so much fortune a man really needs and the rest is just for showing off," he reasoned. "So, I gave a whole bunch of it to the Foursquare Gospel Church and I gave a whole bunch to the Bayou La Batre Fishing Hospital. And even though Bubba was dead, and Lieutenant Dan said I was nuts, I gave Bubba's momma Bubba's share. And you know what? She didn't have to work in nobody's kitchen no more." If you can share your wealth, it's worth doing.

quicklist: 7title: Expect the Unexpected and Be Open-Mindedtext: Like Forrest's mother said, "Life is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're gonna get."