How Watching Ben Stillers Walter Mitty Could Change Your Life

Get Out Of Your Head And Into The Real World

Andrew Crabtree
6 min readAug 18, 2022


I’ve been writing about my recent personal development efforts. This has led to me looking to find more about fear and how it can’t seriously hold you back, even though you may not recognise it as fear.

As part of my new inward-looking and noticing my thoughts and feelings, I have noticed that in addition to the constant chatter, my mind often drifts into roleplays of how things could play out. As an example, when I initially thought of this article, I was in a shopping centre, but my mind was monologuing the article and imagining some of the comments of readers rather than being present with my family.

My research led me to read about and watch the Ben Stiller movie The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. I saw the movie a few years back and would categorise it as an easy watch. However, this time, I learned some lessons that will help you find a purpose in your life.

From what I am aware, Walter Mitty has been depicted three times — once in a short story and twice in a movie.

The short story painted a picture of Walter as a dull man stuck in a monotonous job who would often daydream fantasies, such as being a brain surgeon and WWII fighter pilot, before returning to his life's boring routine. The final fantasy included Walter being shot dead by a firing squad.

Without reading the book myself, I understand that the takeaway was to portray someone who outwardly has a monotonous, routine life but has so much going on in his head. The final scene is quite dark and points towards mental health issues and potentially depression.

I haven’t seen the earlier movie, but the Ben Stiller depiction of Walter Mitty takes the initial story of the book by showing a man with a monotonous life who dreams inside that take their form in zoning out into fantasies before going back to his grey life and those aspirations never going anywhere other than in his head.

However, the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, thankfully, doesn’t stop there. The film shows how Walter starts to turn his fantasies into reality one small act at a time. In fact, this transformation takes the form of the motto of the magazine where Walter works in the film:

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to



Andrew Crabtree

I write about what I'm currently geeking-out over. What I read, watch and listen to, as well as my experiences as a Dad, Husband and Nuclear Energy Consultant.