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‘Yolo’ for thought: 5 lessons for every struggling soul

“Yolo,” the biggest Chinese film of the year, is now in Philippine cinemas nationwide.

After debuting in China on Feb. 10, the feel-good, Rocky-esque, and tearjerker all-in-one has grossed over $480 million at the local box office and $6.4 million worldwide.

The film follows Le Ying (Jia Ling), a stay-at-home recluse who seems to have inexplicably lost all zest for life. She is said to have once worked after finishing her studies, but now spends the rest of her days in bed. Surrounded by a family oblivious to her pain and a pair of friends working behind her back, Ying is forced to depart from her home and into a world without mercy for those who cannot keep up. 

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She later meets boxing coach Hao Kun (Lei Jia Yin) and while things start looking up, a series of twists and turns pushes her over the edge and in desperate search for a “win in life.”

“Yolo” is written and directed by Ling, and is based on the original Japanese film “100 Yen Love.” The film also follows her directorial debut, 2021s “Hi Mom,” which grossed over $800 million at the box office. Joining her and Jia Yin are Zhang Xiaofei, Sha Yi, Zhao Haiyan, Zhang Qi, Xu Juncong, Bu Yu, Zhu Tianfu, Liu Honglu.

Fun fact: Ling reportedly lost 110 pounds (50 kilograms) for the film, mirroring the journey her character would later embark on. While admirable, this has sparked debate concerning the proliferation of a narrative where fitness and weight loss are key to self-acceptance and happiness. 

Take it as you will, but “Yolo” is much more than that. A warm hug for the lost and longing, here are five lessons for every struggling soul.

“Yolo” poster

“Yolo” poster | Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

You don’t need to justify your sadness

It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and not everyone is entitled to an explanation. And it’s not because of an inability to communicate your thoughts and feelings—sometimes, we don’t know what went wrong. Burnout strikes the best of us and unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Sometimes all we need is time alone or a shoulder to lean on—no questions asked.

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There’s a fine line between selfishness and self-respect

As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So save a little for yourself and occasionally say no (even if it’s against your nature). It shouldn’t be taken against you, and if it does—that says more about them than it does about you. Being kind doesn’t mean that you get to be a doormat. 

Being kind doesn’t mean that you get to be a doormat 

Le Ying and Hao Kun

Ying gravitated towards boxing because she was fascinated by how boxers fight but can hug each other afterward | Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Purpose is overrated

Not everyone truly knows what they want in life. If you do, then good. While it can get unnerving seeing others thriving in their pursuits and careers, there’s no comparing it to your own circumstances. 

Perhaps you don’t even want what they have. Maybe you have no idea at all. And that’s perfectly fine. For all you know, what if you just want to play games all day? If it makes you happy, go for it. Just make sure you can finance it at the very least.

There is no standard or formula for winning in life

What does it mean to succeed in life? Is it to climb the corporate ladder? Is it to live comfortably and without worry? Or is it to develop and grow your skills to their utmost potential? These are markers of achievement for some, but not a metric to live by. True success depends on you and if you’ve managed to drag yourself out of bed after a week of struggling to do so—you’ve succeeded, maybe not yet for life, but surely for the day.

True success depends on you and if you’ve managed to drag yourself out of bed after a week of struggling to do so—you’ve succeeded, maybe not yet for life, but surely for the day

Le Ying

“To win, at least once,” is all that matters for Ying | Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Celebrate the little things

Excessive selfie-taking, for some, is linked to narcissism. Oversharing your relationship status—while a slap to the face for the singles out there—may be an indication of conflict behind the scenes. Is there any truth to this? Probably so, but who cares. 

Celebrate your little wins, commemorate your mini-holidays, and burn these moments into memory and social media. Just make sure that these aren’t symptoms of self-obsession or an unhealthy coping mechanism.

Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures

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