Anyone who has read Harry Potter, is aware of the amount of wisdom intricately incorporated into the fantastic thrilling coming of age story. Dumbledore, more notably than the other characters, has given some real life lessons, that you’ll be inclined to never forget. From a spinoff of that universe came my favourite life lesson from cinema. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander said “Worrying means you suffer twice.” I remember the first time I watched the movie, and I’ve not stopped quoting him ever since.
Being an overthinker means worrying defines your existence. It’s disturbingly essential to your experience as a person. Every minute detail, every unnecessary train of thought, all tend to blow up beyond proportions till the tiniest of inconveniences have captivated all your thinking capacity. It’s not necessarily a never-ending occurrence, and is usually triggered. However, once the trigger sets it off, it’s like an actual avalanche, except snow never seems to run out. Somehow just five words helps to rationalise even when sheets of ice are enveloping you from all directions.
Even before the train of thought departs from the station of irrational magnification, if I’m able to remind myself that worrying means I suffer twice, sometimes it does have the effect of someone pulling the chain in the train. The sudden halt is able to allow the mind to focus on what’s at hand instead of falling down the rabbit hole of ‘what if’s. Of course there’s a reason to worry, which as I mentioned before, is the trigger, but the inevitability removes anything to be gained from pondering. If you’re looking to understand what might go wrong, that’s different, but if you’ll just scare yourself into paralysis, what’s the point?
It’s not like running a simulation to prepare for the worst, because overthinking ensures you go beyond the worst for which you can prepare, and hands you possibilities that you can never handle at all. Instead of spiralling out because that ‘might’ happen, it’s better to deal with the crisis within the limits of personal capability. That’s where the quote comes into play. If you’re just going to suffer and it cannot contribute in any way, shape or form to your preparation, you can choose to not start worrying at all.
The magic of words can be truly realised through likewise experiences. To an observer who isn’t you, a quote is just a meaningful sequence of words. Yet somehow, those words in that order, changes your life forever. It’s almost weird, especially given how my choice of words is excessively simple, apparently. Yet, when Newt told Jacob the quoted line, I found myself in a whole new dimension of dealing with anxiety-inducing overthinking.
Even in the context of the film, it’s as important a life lesson. The fear was practically paralysing Kowalski, who was unable to think beyond the worst possibility. Embracing the lack of control we sometimes have on our lives isn’t necessarily easy to do, but the way Newt just said that his philosophy was that worrying made you suffer twice, made it appreciably easier – and he was one hundred percent right! If the worst does indeed happen, you’re bound to suffer, so why suffer beforehand too, worrying about it happening?
Cinema is one of the most powerful, life-changing media to ever exist. At its core, however, is the ability to tell a story, and that is what allows it to change lives. With every story one can find hidden gems of lessons, messages, or simply philosophies, which could potentially alter their perspectives and hence even their lives. Despite the universality of this notion, there are some extremely famous movies celebrated internationally for their life lessons. So when I look back and realise this quote from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is still my favourite life lesson from a film, it’s simultaneously heartwarming and puzzling. It is after all, an unlikely source, to say the least, and yet it’s made such a major impact on my life.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.