Have you seen the TV show Ted Lasso? It’s the story of an American college football coach, played by Jason Sudeikis, who is hired to coach a British professional soccer team. It’s a “fish out of water” story in that Ted has never been to England and never coached soccer—and on top of that, has come to lead a team with a myriad of problems, both on the field and off.
I delayed watching this show for months as the premise did not seem all that compelling to me. Then my wife and I gave it a shot—and found you can’t help but get drawn in to the story and rooting for Ted. He is a colorful and quirky character whose life philosophy might best be described by this Kevin Kelley quote:
Don’t treat people as bad as they are. Treat them as good as you are.
While Ted Lasso does not openly espouse any specific religion or philosophy, it is easy to see he is a man who observes the golden rule. He is persistently kind and positive, a glass half full type of person, no matter how dire the situation or circumstances. Mike Frost, writing in his blog on “Ted Lasso—the Promise of Christless Christianity,” explains the character this way:
His kindness, his thoughtfulness, his unremitting positivity springs apparently from somewhere deep within his American soul. He brings joy. He repairs relationships. He changes lives. All by himself.
The idea that Ted is a “non-religious Christian” is a theme I’ve seen several times online. One writer calls Ted Lasso “the most Christian, non-Christian show I have ever seen.” In an article in the National Catholic Reporter titled “The Anonymous Christianity of Ted Lasso,” Daniel P. Horan astutely describes Lasso this way:
He sincerely cares more about developing relationships and supporting the full flourishing of each player and staff member on his team than he does about winning or losing. He is genuinely thoughtful and caring, even when he is the object of derision and scorn, even when he is being set up for failure. He is able to win over the most cynical and selfish people, not through biting argumentation or insult, but through sheer persistence, presence and, dare I say, authentic love.
What also helps make the show entertaining is Ted’s ability to deliver an off-the-cuff quip. Much of the humor plays off of the cultural differences between life in the US and Great Britain, for instance this observation made over breakfast:
That right there, that’s a scone. Tastes like a muffin except it sucks all the spit out of your mouth.
Is Ted Lasso spiritual? Look in the dictionary and you’ll find that spiritual is defined as “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.” In that sense, Ted is a highly spiritual being. As another writer put it, Ted offers “another set of values to prioritize, another approach to decision-making and relationship-building.” In short, a fresh perspective on how to be a better person.
Here’s a look at some of the folky wisdom Ted has offered up during the show (in bold type), followed by a few thoughts of my own (in italics).
Spiritual Wisdom from Ted Lasso
- You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? It’s got a 10-second memory. We live a happier life when we can quickly move on from perceived slights and insults or our own personal missteps or misfortunes. Be a goldfish.
- If you care about someone, and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together. We are always stronger together.
- As the man once said, the harder you work, the luckier you get. It is hard for good things to come into your life when you’re home sitting on the sofa.
- I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone. I repeat, we are always stronger together.
- Don’t let the wisdom of age be wasted on you. Our society needs more wise elders. Are you a candidate?
- For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field. What is not passed on to the young people in our lives is wisdom lost.
- I like the idea of someone becoming rich because of what they gave to the world, not just because of who their family is. You are what you do—and what you contribute to those around you.
- So I’ve been hearing this phrase y’all got over here that I ain’t too crazy about. ‘It’s the hope that kills you.’ Y’all know that? I disagree. I think it’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you. See, I believe in hope. I believe in belief. There’s always a little light in the darkness. From there, hope grows.
- Our goal is to go out like Willie Nelson—on a high. As Willie himself once said, “When you put your life in a good place, good things follow.”