14 Oct How Can We Be Inspired By The Good Place?
Every day we wake up and have a choice on how we will think, react, behave – how we will BE that day. Every day, we are faced with many new opportunities to choose our attitude, our beliefs, and our behaviour. Every day, we wake up and can choose to be “good” or better.
In the NBC/Netflix sitcom The Good Place, Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) begins by waking up and realises she has died and is now in “The Good Place” – or a non-denominational version of the after life where the good people have been sent. Eleanor soon realises that The Powers That Be have made a mistake and she has been sent to the wrong place – she lived her life being selfish, mean, sold fake medicine to elderly people, and relished in trashy gossip. So what should she do?
Eleanor chooses to try to be good. She wants to fit in with the people she deems to be worthy of being in The Good Place – Chidi the Ethics philosopher lecturer, Jianyu the silent Buddhist monk, and Tahani the socialite philanthropist.
So how does The Good Place relate to us?
We can choose how we think, how we react, behave and become from this moment.
Eleanor begins the whole storyline by becoming conscious in The Good Place – just like we wake up every day and become conscious of our surroundings. She realises early on that her attitude, her reactions, and her behaviour are all determined by herself. She can choose. She wants to fit in with the people around her in this place, and she doesn’t want to be the selfish, thoughtless person she was when she was alive. She decides that she wants to remain in this place and therefore, chooses and works on being a better person one thought, one reaction, and one action at a time. It is not an easy task, just as real life tasks are not easy. Eleanor must keep making choices and be determined to be her best self despite all the obstacles (literally) thrown at her.
When we know our WHY, our values and our goal, we can actively make the choice to think, believe, and behave towards achieving our goal.
To stay true to our values, we have to work within external values imposed by society.
In The Good Place, we learn of the Points System which determines whether a person is sent to the Good Place or the dreaded Bad Place. As Eleanor attempts to fit her behaviour and thoughts into these constructed values, we are all compelled to fit into constructed values systems within our daily lives, and must consider how own values fit so that we can be our best selves. If we do not agree with the values or “points system” of a company, should we give them our money? Can we work for a company which does not share our values but has a “Points System” which goes against our WHY?
We can challenge our Gestalt
In The Good Place, it is not only the main characters who are lulled into their Gestalt by the writers. The audience is also placed in a Gestalt with the whole premise of the story in series one. At the end of the series, everyone – from Eleanor to Tahani to the whole audience – is taken right out of their comfort zone and faced with the reality of the situation from the clues we have all been denying.
As Eleanor reaches her enlightenment, she decides to act positively. She refuses to remain in the denial led by her subconscious, and to beat the negative obstacles. Eleanor accepts a brand new challenge and adapts her mindset. We are all faced with huge new challenges and obstacles at different times, and often, we ignore the clues as we continue in our comfort zone or Gestalt – by facing the challenges head on, we can focus our mindset to choose our behaviour to move forward.
Tahani’s Challenge to not listen to the negative voices
In the third series, the character Tahani is given a task which relates to all of us on a daily basis. She must go down a corridor to the door at the end without opening the other doors and listening to the truth of what her family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances think of her. Tahani is able to walk past every door except the one with her parents’ names. She knows the truth of what they think of her, and yet she still opens the door. She knows she will be met with negativity. She knows she will leave the room feeling demoralised and a failure, and yet she opens that door.
How many of us do this? We know we can think and behave as a self fulfilling prophecy. We know if we eat that extra slice of cake, or avoid doing a work task, or say something mean that it will be damaging and that we will feel guilty. And yet we still choose to do it. That negativity of opening the door and knowing what we will find is almost a comfort zone.
But we can be like Eleanor, and choose to not open that door, to banish that negativity. We can choose our thoughts, our beliefs and our behaviour. We can choose to be “good” and be our better selves every day with every conscious decision and action.
All images owned by Netflix’s The Good Place.
You can watch The Good Place (seasons 1-3) on Netflix or buy the DVD or download Seasons 1 and 2 now.