I just rewatched Disney Pixar’s lovely movie Inside Out, and once again was struck by it’s brilliance. (If you still haven’t seen it, do- and wait for the scenes in the credits!) The idea is that inside of all of us are emotions that direct our actions, and there are islands of traits that fuel our personalities.
This story follows the activities of Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust as they experience Riley, the eleven year old girl they form, deal with moving. I think one of the major points in the movie is that while Joy understand that Fear keeps Riley safe, and Disgust keeps her from being poisoned, and Anger is useful, she doesn’t see the need for Sadness. But as things develop, they discover that while Sadness can make even the most joyful memories sad, that this also leads to empathy and closeness, and is more necessary than they realized.
I also appreciate that even Joy- the very personification of happiness, often has to force herself to find a way to choose Joy.
Sometimes, especially when everything is going wrong, the advice to “Choose Joy” can feel both simplistic and condescending. This is advice only suitable for giving to oneself. Using it as an affirmation, or a reminder to put in the effort to look at the bright side of a situation is a personal choice.
This can be especially hard when those around you are ignoring all the input from your other inner feelings, acting as if they are not valid and haven’t been created as responses to what we experience. There are situations where “If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention” is a valid response. Certainly one person’s rights don’t justify them abusing those of others. First, stop the abuse, then work to find a compromise solution. But first stop the abuse. While healing a bad situation does feel good, it is not “joyful” to be aware of one.
But whether making lemonade when life gives you lemons, or chucking them at the bozo who thought it was fun to give you lemons instead of the grapes (or even the onions) you’d requested, we live in a constant cycle of what happens affects our emotions, and our emotions affect our responses and actions. (BTW this lovely chart is from an article about this interaction and using the system eft to deal with it – click here to read it.) When we accept these reactions and learn to work with them, rather than just ignore the ones we don’t like, we do better. I’m sure we’d all like to never feel uncomfortable, but each emotion has its use (as the movie showed graphically).
But we’ll be exploring Joy this year, so plan to come in November, and keep checking the blog!