6 Life Lessons from Robin Williams

What Therapy pays respect and tribute to Robin Williams.

We all have our reasons why we love Robin Williams. For me personally, Dead Poets Society screened at a pivotal time in my young adult life. It left an indelible mark.

Robin Williams was a man who touched us through his imagination, zaniness, and humour.

A man most of us did not know on a personal level but yet made a huge impact on our personal lives. Whether it was to ignite our own imagination, anbridge to our own light and possibilities or to provide some escapism from what’s going on, from our own darkness.

We do not always know why people, including ourselves, make the choices they do. We do not see the demons others battle with. We do not feel the pressures they do. We are wired differently. We are on different parts of our human and soul journey.

Like Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

We are not here to dissect or even understand what happened with Mr Williams but to come to terms with what we do feel and how to move on from this loss and any loss.

It is inevitable when someone passes, whether a beloved public figure or a personal friend, we become reflective about mortality and our own life – our contributions, our choices, our “mistakes”…whether we made a difference. Will we be remembered?

Or it can drum up fears.


Some of the sadness we feel when someone dies stems from a sense that we have not done enough. Or we have not done what we wanted to or set out to. We do not know when our time is up and even though we often let the grains of sand slip by each day, we fear we may have missed the chance.

Look to Mr Williams’ life for clues. No one would argue that his stay was much too short, at least in our human minds. By all accounts, he lived his life to the fullest, touching hearts all around the world and that’s a good lesson for all of us.

Let’s see what we can do with our own lives.

① Be Grateful

Be grateful for those in your life.

Words are powerful. Back it up with action. Be sure to let them know in the congruence of words and behaviour. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Many people regret not having told Robin Williams the positive impact he had on them. So tell people you are grateful for their presence or that you love them.

Say it only if you mean it. If you don’t then it’s time to re-look at your life and make changes to either bring in people aligned with you and/or see why you are not grateful for them.

Be grateful to those who are gone. The world is not less bright without their presence. Their light remains entwined and our lives forever and undeniably changed. Remember and celebrate them.

② Embrace Who You Are

No labels. They can be confusing and misleading. We are human and spirit and we can anchor the whole spectrum of emotions. Whatever it is, in the moment – be it. It’s okay to be vulnerable, innocent, or whatever.

There is no right or wrong in this. When we are aligned, present, and living from expansion, we are able to allow the emotions to be and we express ourselves from a different plane of being.

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.

Robin Williams



All this talk about embracing the weird or the crazy or different is distracting. It’s embracing everything and everyone. All aspects. All elements. We are all unique and different, but the same. Celebrate who you are, in every rendition of that. Be present and unafraid of the amazingness that is the core of all of us. We are not one dimensional and we are not unchanging. When we embrace who we are, it can give strength, courage, and inspiration to others to do the same.

③ Does it Belong to Me?

We have been conditioned since young to believe what reactions, emotions, and behaviours are appropriate, and expected. Normal. Like plants, we grow towards the light, when we are rewarded, patted on the head, given attention to. We become clowns to diffuse tension and make everyone happy. We become good students because our good marks make our parents happy.

When Joe Duquette worked as a stand-in in a movie with Robin Williams, he had a chance to ask if the funny man was happy himself. His response? “Well, I make other people happy….So I guess I’m happy.”

Question and dig deep. What makes you happy?

④ Be Kind

A major theme that threads through the tributes to Robin Williams is kindness.

Kind-heartedness, warm, generous, considerate, caring, gentle – these are all faces of kindness.
Mr Williams was a deeply shy and private person. What we do know is that he was a life-long animal rights activist. He worked with organizations to bring awareness to a variety of issues from dolphin slaughter to zoos. His own adopted dog was called Leonard.

For his role as a Russian musician who defects in the movie Moscow on the Hudson, he spoke with the everyday Russian (those who acted as extras on the set), and incorporated their stories into his character. He was generous with his time, and attention.

We can all be kind by listening more. Really listening and hearing and maybe even tapping in between the lines. Kindness fills not only other people’s heart but our own.

⑤ Find Your Creative Outlet. Connect with Your Creative Core.

Depression is a spiritual crisis according to people such as Caroline Myss. When we do not live from our creative core of being, the misalignment shows up as melancholy, this sense of separation. Mr Williams was a huge creative force. He was also a tremendously shy person.

According to those who knew him well saw him riding the edge, unbridled. Or when he was doing what he was passionate about, like cycling. How do we live from that core? How do we live creatively all the time? This is for each of us to find out. Being mindful of each moment of our lives helps us be in the present and live from the energy that we truly are. And always “carpe diem”.

⑥ Laugh. Always.

If nothing else, Robin Williams showed us the importance of laughter. Laughter can change everything. It’s okay to be silly or goofy. Just laugh. Laugh at yourself. Don’t take everything and yourself so seriously. Laughter is sunshine.

Comedy is acting out optimism.
Robin Williams

image: available on various websites without attribution