As the head of two very different families, there was one constant in the life of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), and that was an abundance of problems. While he tried to juggle his responsibilities as a loving husband and father against the always delicate tightrope act of overseeing his ever-increasing criminal empire, it required both a calm disposition and rational, pragmatic problem-solving skills –aside from the occasional destroyed telephone or hole punched in the wall. Throughout all six seasons of The Sopranos (available to watch anytime on HBO Now) Tony tried his best with this balancing act. So, the next time you need a little insight into how to untie the knots in your own life, here’s a look at Tony’s best non-violent approaches to problem-solving for the good of both his families.
“Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this.”
Your first step in solving a problem will always be to identify the source, and when things got heated between Tony and his Uncle Junior throughout the show’s debut season, by the end, this is exactly what Tony did. Once you’ve identified the source, however ridiculous it may sound, take a step back and examine the problem again. A workable solution is bound to be right around the corner.
“A wrong decision is better than indecision.”
Part of being decisive will, inevitably, include some mistakes along the way. After all, not every decision you make will be the right one — and that’s okay. As Tony paraphrases a sentiment made by his wife, Carmela (Edie Falco) over a real estate purchase, he applies that same logic to another issue in his work life. After all, these mistakes can provide an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson, whereas not taking a step will provide you nothing at all.
“Log off! That cookies sh*t makes me nervous.”
Okay, so this is coming from one of Tony’s more paranoid moments — although considering how thoroughly his life was monitored by the FBI, it’s easy to imagine how he got that way. Still, when Gigi (John Fiore) starts to have a conversation with Tony while still on his laptop, Tony insists that Gigi shut it down. While he wasn’t just a regular proponent of being more “present” in day-to-day life while constantly deriding the presence of technology in their lives, Tony knew that communication without distraction is the key to coming up with real, workable solutions to life’s problems.
“You gotta get your arms around this thing.”
There are a lot of moving parts to Tony’s world, and he ends up having to rely on lots of people to keep them all running smoothly. Even then, it’s important to stay one step ahead and not get overwhelmed by the complexity of it all, but never at the expense of maintaining control.
“This situation ain’t all bad. I haven’t a green vegetable in over a week.”
No matter how bad your situation may get, it’s important to keep a positive outlook. It’ll benefit you, and quite frankly, everyone around you. While you hopefully never end up forced to hide out in a safe house for days on end, finding the silver lining in the situation can do wonders for morale even at the lowest points, although not eating green vegetables won’t do wonders for your health. Even Tony is willing to acknowledge the importance of fresh produce.
“Let’s do it right. Act normal. Plan things out. Make no mistakes.”
This may sound contradictory to some of the other quotes listed here, but the underlying message to this line is simple: aim high. While you can take any mistakes that happen along the way as a valuable life lesson, there’s no substitute for an ambitious, clearheaded approach to whatever curveball life may throw at you. Just don’t take that part about “no mistakes” too seriously.
“You can’t fight every f*ckin’ battle, right?”
Probably the most important lesson when performing the juggling act of life’s problems is knowing when and where to pick your battles. No matter how much you keep your arms around every situation, sometimes the most rewarding victory comes by not fighting at all.