5 Inestimable Life Lessons From The Very Popular FRIENDS TV Show
Despite being lighthearted and downright silly at times, the ’90s TV show Friends had a whole lot of wisdom to share — between us trying to figure out Chandler’s official job title, enjoying all those Central Perk hangs, and, of course, viewing Ross and Rachel’s relationship saga. Friends has been one amongst those extra-ordinary TV shows that have sought a majority of audience attention and has been successful in keeping them contended and yet built the hope for more. Actually, there are inestimable life lessons we can learn from the Friends TV show.
Friends was one of the most popular shows of all time.
Featuring six young people living in the heart of New York while they tried to figure out life and love, the show became the flag bearer of sorts for an entire generation and provided the blueprint for several shows that came after it which borrowed heavily from the premise. While being mainly a comedy series, the show was so popular because of the emotional core at its center, and the many heartfelt moments we got to witness over the years.
Friends has made us laugh, and has even reduced us to tears, it’s one of the most iconic shows this generation has ever seen and it’s one we could never tire of watching over and over again.
While sitcoms are generally considered to be light, fluffy shows that don’t require much thought, designed simply to make you laugh, that wasn’t the case with Friends. Sure, it had its funny moments — but it also taught you some great life lessons that you can apply to your life today. It showed characters going through challenging situations and dealing with it — all accompanied by a cheerful laugh track.
Let’s be real in accepting the fact that we all wanted to become like one of the characters that were present in the series.
Friends has been a journey of 10 years where we saw all the 6 characters growing up, influencing our lives somewhere or the other. It has emerged as one of the best shows that taught us many life lessons for leading a happy and joyful life. Whether you were a Rachel, Chandler, or a mixture of several characters, the sitcom had countless authentic moments that anyone could identify with. One episode had you bawling your eyes out while the next gave you an ab workout from all the intense fits of laughter — either way, you never tore your eyes away from that screen.
A sure thing which is so inevitable in Friends is the truth it teaches us about life. So take your popcorns, as you get ready to relive the Friends moments.
Friends is still the most popular TV show, even after 17 years since it last aired on TV. Once we start viewing it, it becomes ingrained in our minds. We begin to form bonds with the main characters. Friends teaches us numerous life lessons. Here are five life lessons Friends teaches us.
Life Lesson #1: Your Past Doesn't Define You
When we meet Ross at the beginning of the show, he had just come out of a divorce. Rachel had escaped from her house on her wedding way. All the other characters were also dealing with past baggage of one kind or another, like Phoebe’s terrible childhood and Chandler’s tumultuous relationship with his parents. And yet, despite dealing with a lot of stuff in the past, the six main characters were able to forge a new path for themselves and find happiness, and a feeling of becoming complete and at peace with unpleasant memories of the past.
Each of the 6 characters in the show got a second chance in their life to turn it around.
Rachel left her comfort and began everything from scratch. Monica was jobless for over a year until she got to experience her dream as a head chef. Joey was seen as a struggling actor and finally got his big break as Drake Ramoray. Chandler switched his well-paid job to start again to get a job that he actually loves. Phoebe fought through all her hardships in life and finally earned what she deserved. Everyone had their own share of struggles, but they aced them like rockstars with love, support & dedication.
Actually, it’s never too late for a fresh start.
Each individual from the cast has depicted this point. Considering Rachel where she leaves everything behind and starts working with all her heart. And Monica, after losing her first love does not lose the hope of finding the right man to spend her life. Ultimately, life is full of surprises and you never know what is held on your part. Even the smallest decision can transform your entire life. Just imagine if Jennifer never left that other show, or if Courtney had played Rachel’s part instead of Monica’s, it would have been an entirely different show. What if other actors had played the main characters? How would that be like? You have to keep taking chances in life. You never know what is out there for you. The decision you make today can have a significant impact on your tomorrow. Learn to grab the opportunities that come to you in strange ways.
Do you feel bogged down by the past unable to move towards a brighter future? Maybe you’re wondering how not to let your past define your future.
The best thing you can do is to remind yourself that your past does not define you. The things you did in the past, are what you used to do. They are not who you are now. Regardless of what happened in your past, it is important to move on from it and not dwell on it endlessly. Instead, you can take it as an opportunity to grow, learn and become a better version of yourself. Despite the severity of bad experiences, regrets, or mistakes that happened in your past, you can choose to look at them in a positive light. Instead of letting all that affect your present and your future, you can actually consider that as valuable lessons and learn from it.
You are not the person that you once used to be, and you are definitely not going to be that person in the future.
The funny thing about the past is that while it’s literally in the past, it continues to haunt us and becomes an obstacle in our present life. And we simply can’t change it. No matter how much we wish there was a time machine that could take us back, it is something impossible. But, what we can do for sure is we can stop dwelling over our past experiences, we can learn from it, and we can use it to create a difference in our future. Believe in yourself! Believe that your past doesn’t define you or your future. Know that you deserve all the happiness and love there is in life!
Life Lesson #2: Don’t Plan Too Much
Some of the best parts of the show were things no one saw coming — Ross saying Rachel’s name at his wedding! There’s also Monica and Chandler’s relationship, and Rachel’s pregnancy! The list of surprises go on, and while the characters likely didn’t expect any of them, it all worked out in the end.
Life isn’t always perfect.
Monica is by far the most critical woman on TV, she is a perfectionist at heart and loves everything to be pristine, precise and perfect at all times. Although we would often love to control all aspects of our lives it just isn’t possible, Monica learnt that the hard way. By not being able to give birth to her own baby she realized that sometimes things don’t always go to plan but all we can do is be grateful for what we do have. People change and plans change. Don’t be afraid of going after something because it doesn’t perfectly align with your plan. After all, plans are simply directions that are meant to get us to our final destination but who said there’s is only one way to get there?
Well things are bound to happen, so although its good to have a plan it’s also good to leave some wiggle room to accommodate for life to occur.
Having goals and aspirations is ideal but sometimes getting caught up in the planning of how to get there causes us to lose sight of what’s important. We lose sight of the present and forget to enjoy the journey. The real question is why do we find the need to plan out every hour of the day? Letting go and going with the flow is the only way out. I mean why waste time being upset about not having the day go as planned? Instead refocusing that energy into making the rest of the day great is a much better use of our time. The next time you find yourself planning the sh*t out your life and day please stop and enjoy where you are now.
We’re all fond of planning life. It feels good and gives us a feeling that we’re somehow controlling and ensuring the wellness of our future. I’m okay with that.
Yet, I simply wish to mention that life loses its appeal when we create a blueprint or roadmap for it. It lacks the beautiful moments and combinations of nervousness and uncertainties. There’s nothing extraordinary about outlining your life. You know what’s coming, and that’s normal. It can be boring. But life isn’t supposed to be just normal. It can be beyond ordinary — exhilarating, exciting, surprising, and lovely. That only happens when we don’t know what’s going to happen next. Let there be enough space to breathe, and welcome the unexpected. It’s alright to feel baffled at different stages.
Life is full of uncertainty, and many times the best things in your life will be things that you never saw coming.
Understanding life’s serendipitous nature is key to understanding the true meaning of life. If all else fails in the pursuit of your life purpose, focus on what brings you joy. In the end, no one can say with any certainty what the real meaning or purpose of life is. If you live a life that brings you joy while also bringing joy to others whenever you can, though, you will certainly live a meaningful and enjoyable life even if you never do discover what the real meaning of that life might be. The best things in life come when you stop chasing after what society says you should want and start following your unique path. Only by finding your true purpose and committing to that purpose above all else can you open yourself up to the most generous rewards that life has to offer.
Life Lesson #3: Let the Heart Lead
Although most of the episodes are comedic in nature, sometimes things get real, and characters are forced to talk about their feelings. When they try to avoid those moments by burying their feelings, like Ross not telling Rachel how much he loved her, or Joey and Chandler not talking about missing each other after living in separate apartments, things inevitably get worse for the characters. Only through an honest expression of their feelings are the characters able to clear the air and find happiness.
When you love someone you must love him or her including their flaws.
Not every person is perfect and imperfection makes things more meaningful. Nothing can match the happiness of knowing each other’s flaws and accepting them to grow together. Monica and Chandler gave me the greatest lesson of how love can help you see perfection in all imperfections. True love always finds a way to sort things out in the end. Do you recall how the “lobsters” came back together? How did Mike and Phoebe finally commit to each other after all the ups and downs? Chandler and Monica, the most diametrically opposed and ideal couple, found love under the most hopeless of circumstances.
Happy people are the ones who are following their heart.
Rachel isn’t given enough credit for the courage she takes in not marrying Barry—someone who could have given her stability and comfort—to completely starting over in Manhattan. She goes from being completely taken care of by her parents and Barry, to becoming fully independent. Immediately she gets a job as a waitress at the infamous coffee house, and with a little help from her friends, she learns about adulting and living a life independent of her wealthy family and friends. Not marrying Barry opened the door to her meeting her best friends, eventually getting her dream career in the fashion industry and becoming a mother.
In the world of work and business, we have been taught to lock away our heart, but if we’re going to lead and inspire others, we need to keep our hearts open.
Your heart has a melody. It is a song that leads to clarity, answers, and assurance. Following the melody of your heart means to create your life from your heart center, a life that serves you and others. It’s the determination to overcome everything that has silenced your music and the courage to live unapologetically — transforming from who you’ve known yourself to be into who you really are.
Leading with heart means that you lead your life led by love.
To live and lead with your heart means to live listening to what makes you feel good from within holistically. It means letting that feeling be what unapologetically guides you. You consciously surround yourself with people who nourish your soul, people who lift you up and make you want to be the best you that you possibly can be, and who honor, respect, and love you for who you truly are. It means you take ownership of your life, it means that you know and cares about what inspires and empowers not only you but others too. To lead with your heart, you must love the people you are leading — which starts with loving yourself.
Life Lesson #4: Friends Will Be There For You
The biggest lesson from the show is how important your friends are, your surrogate family in a new city. Your rock in a strange environment. And your confidantes at the end of a long day of dealing with the world’s problems. It is frankly difficult to imagine anyone being able to find even one friend who is as generous, funny, loyal and charismatic as the main leads of the show, let alone six of them, but the show does teach the lesson of how important it is to hold on to true friends when you are lucky enough to find them, and not losing them because of a petty squabble or mean-spirited behavior.
When all the doors get closed, your friend breaks open one for you. You’re never alone.
If you’ve got someone like this, hold on to them and never let them go. All the problems seem pretty small when you have your friend by your side (let us face it, they do not solve your problem but they do make you smile with their lame jokes). For instance, Chandler invents a fake game just to help Joey. In fact, the mere presence of each other helps them solve dozens of problems. The Friends group always tackles problems together. They’re all in it together. When Rachel and Phoebe go wedding dress shopping with Monica, they help her fight for the dress Monica wants. No matter how small (or crazy) the problem, they always have each other’s backs.
True friends have your back. Just imagine if Rachel didn’t come to Monica after running out on her wedding!
Friends are like a second family to us (or as in Phoebe’s case, a primary family, if we’ve never met ours or aren’t in contact with them for whatever reason). Good friends, which are really the only kind of friends there are when you think about it, will have your back no matter what. They are there to help, just ask. Left a guy at the altar on your wedding day and don’t know who to turn to? Your friend will welcome you with open arms. The six friends were always reciprocal, without keeping record of who owes who and that’s what made their friendship solid.
Everyone who loves the show Friends absolutely loves the theme song — you’d be hard pressed to find a die-hard fan who neglects to clap along with the song.
However, the theme song does more than start the show off on a catchy note – it also encapsulates a theme that runs through the entire show. Namely, that your friends will always be there for you, no matter how awful your day was, or how disappointed you are at where you’re at, or what issues you may be dealing with. Whether they’re helping you get out of a general funk or helping you get over a bad breakup, your friends are the ones who will be there. You don’t need an endless squad of acquaintances who you only see on fun nights out and when you’re feeling upbeat. You need friends in your life that you can call at any time of the day and know they’ll come over, even if it’s just for a hug and to share a glass (okay, a bottle) of wine.
You can always count on your friends.
No matter what is the situation in your life, Friends taught us that we can always rely on our friends without any limits. Whether it’s a family issue or romantic problem, friends always step up in order to make your life even more beautiful. Friends taught us that we can create our own family by choosing our mates. Sometimes, this bond can be thicker than water. Belonging to a group forms your identity. It gives you a place to express your interests and share them with like-minded people. When you feel that you belong to a group of friends, it gives you a great sense of security. It’s liberating to know that you can depend on them. Whatever the world flings at you, your friends have your back, because you are one of their own.
Life Lesson #5: Follow Your Dreams
Joey’s entire career consisted of giving his everything to each new audition or acting gig until he finally became a successful star. Monica had to work in one sloppy, messy restaurant after another until she was finally made head chef. Rachel started out as a glorified assistant at her job but ended the series as a major executive. Chandler spent his twenties hating the lucrative job he had until he finally had the courage to switch careers in his thirties to pursue his dream job in marketing. He was older than his competitors, but finally doing something he loved and found professionally fulfilling.
It’s a running joke that none of the friends know what Chandler does.
That’s also how Rachel and Monica lost their apartment to Joey and Chandler. After Chandler takes a job in Tulsa (accidentally), he realizes just how much he dislikes his job. So he quits and Monica helps him find what he’s truly passionate about. It takes a lot of courage to quit a job with a company you’ve been with for so long and start over. Chandler shows us that money can only solve so much. Staying in a job that doesn’t bring you happiness isn’t worth it at the end of the day. Your dream is the reason for the way you are. Your dream is not a coincidence. Your dream is who you are. Your dream gives you a sense of meaning and purpose, and drives you on into your chosen future. Your dream is the meaning of your life! Get your dreams off the shelf! Focus. Strive. This is how things were meant to be.
Hard work and perseverance pay off!
From doing the play Freud! to tacky commercials, to playing Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives, Joey persevered in his acting career even when the odds didn’t seem in his favor. Although at times he became discouraged, he never gave up on his dreams, even when his dream role as Dr. Drake Ramoray ends. Even after that, Joey continues fighting for his dream career and even ends up back on Days of Our Lives as Dr. Drake Ramoray’s twin brother, Stricker. The best thing Friends conveys is that life is about loving what you do and loving the people you share your time with.
There’s no doubt about it — taking risks to make our dreams come true is very, very scary.
Sure, some people are adrenaline junkies who live off that feeling of slight panic and nervous excitement, but for the majority of the public, it takes a lot of courage to shake off the safe, stable choices and take a risk. However, as Friends shows us, sometimes it’s just something you need to do. Tell that person you have a crush on how you feel, even if it involves getting off a plane bound for Paris. Take matters into your own hands and propose because you just couldn’t wait any longer. Embark upon a new entrepreneurial adventure if you hate wasting time at your desk job. Go do something you’ve always wanted to do but have been too nervous to actually do. Take a risk — even if it doesn’t pay off, it’s better to at least know you tried than to always wonder what could have been.
When the show starts out, most of the Friends are working jobs that might not be their absolute dream jobs.
Rachel is a waitress, Monica works at an awful diner that she hates, Ross works in a museum, Joey is a struggling actor, etc., etc. However, none of them give up on finding their perfect job – they pay their dues, put in the time in lower level positions, and eventually manage to climb up the ladder and work at a luxury fashion brand, as a professor, and as a head chef. Even Chandler, when he decides to switch careers, puts as much energy as he can into preparing for his meetings — he doesn’t simply put in the minimum effort required because he’s an intern. The lesson here is that you just have to hustle and believe that eventually all your hard work will pay off. Just keep working, just keep learning, and eventually you’ll achieve any goal you can think of.
Friends characters lived, worked, and tackled life just like you and me, but what made them memorable was their unique set of quirks. Your passions, hobbies, and interests make you who you are — and that’s something that should never change. Friends taught us about friendship, togetherness, life, love, happiness, sadness, and relationships.
One of the major lessons was even right in its theme song: Good friends will be there for us, no matter what — and after a while, become the family we choose.
Okay, so those aren’t exactly the lyrics, but pretty much sum them up. Plus, when we really reflect on this series? There are so many more great nuggets to be had that are impossible to forget, such as the risk one takes when opting to wear leather pants, and what not to say while moving a couch up the stars.
This show did not just make you laugh out loud, but also stringed the right emotions in you and eventually taught you tons of things that you struggle to inculcate in your life.
While the lives of our favorite band of misfits were far from perfect, their experiences taught us a lot of important life lessons. Whether it’s that life can throw you curveballs (hello Monica’s fake boob debacle at work), or that working out with a hernia may not be the smartest idea, the show gave us everything we needed to know to navigate through life’s ups and downs.
All the good times and bad times in life come to an end.
The only difference is that we want the bad times to end sooner and the good times to last forever. Unfortunately, that is not how life is. Everything comes to an end. Nothing is permanent, not even our lives. So the main point is to enjoy life to the fullest and live the good moments while they last.
After 236 episodes, these are merely a few ways the characters on Friends displayed a word to the wise and the importance of not taking life too seriously. Whether it be the 1990s or 2019, we can still learn a lot from our Friends.
Friends wasn’t just entertaining. It isn’t just some regular run-of-the-mill TV sitcom. There were storylines that had you cracking up and ones that had you tearing up — but either way, you surely were glued to the screen. What else have you learned from Friends? If you have watched friends, which character do you relate with? Please share your feedback with me in the comments below!
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.