It’s Okay Not to be Okay

I know I was one of the last persons to catch Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out, the story of Riley, an 11 year old jolly, hockey-loving girl and the five emotions that reside in her mind – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.

Joy, the first one to appear in Riley’s mind when she was held by her parents when she was a baby, is an energetic, glowing, fun-loving emotion who usually play as leader in the control room.

Sadness, the blue, eyeglass-wearing depressive emotion, came in second when an infant Riley became uncertain of what to feel.

Then there’s Fear a violet fella who looks out for disasters and keep Riley from bumping into them, the green girl Disgust who prevents Riley from getting poisoned physically (from Broccoli) and socially (from new classmates in her new hometown), and the red and flat headed Anger who tries to keep things fair for Riley like during the time when her father threatens to not give her dessert.

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One thing I like about Inside Out is how the movie which is supposed to be for kids debunk the myths that most of the adults grow up believing into.

We were taught that happiness is positive and sadness is negative. We grew up believing that those who cry are the weakest and if one should cry, it has to be somewhere that can’t be seen. No one wants to be a loser, for heaven’s sake. We do not celebrate sadness; much worse, we sometimes do not acknowledge sadness even if its pangs are hanging on our skin. We believe that happiness is superior and sadness is inferior. But the movie dismisses these beliefs.

For 11 years, Joy tried to be in control of everything that happens in Riley’s life. The goal is to make her happy all the time. So when Riley got disgusted and sad on their new home in San Francisco, Joy tried to lighten up the mood by making Riley envision how her room would look like once the furniture comes in.

However, due to an incident where Joy is preventing Sadness to touch a memory, both of them were transported out of the control room and into the aisle of long-term memory. This now left Riley to feel nothing but disgust to her new life, fear if she’ll ever fit in and anger to her parents for disrupting their good life in Minnesota.

In the thousands of aisles in the long-term memory section, Joy and Sadness keeps on trying to return to the control room to prevent Riley from running away from home. They even bumped into Bing Bong, a part elephant, part cat and a cotton candy who is Riley’s imaginary friend.

In their attempt to return to the control room, Joy and Bing Bong fell on the cliff of forgotten memories. This is where joy realized that Sadness is an integral part of Riley’s well-being. She held a memory of Riley where she’s being carried and cheered by her hockey mates. All of them were smiling and happy. But when Joy winds back the memory, Joy saw Riley being sad because their team lost in a game when she failed to hit the winning shot. Joy saw that Riley’s parents comforted her and made way to cheer her up through her hockey mates. Then it dawned on Joy, “Mom and Dad came to help because of sadness.”

With Joy’s realization, we are also taught that it’s fine and normal to be sad. We actually need sadness to appreciate and know joy once more. And usually, it is out of the sad moments where happy moments come from. Sadness therefore isn’t inferior, it is what makes us stop for a while, reflect on what happened and resolve to make things better than it was.

As Sadness puts it, ‘Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.’ And she was even backed up by a study made by Joseph Forgas, a psychology professor at the University of New South Wales. His study revealed that being sad makes people less gullible, improves ability to judge others and boost memory. Of course, this is now being technical to drive home my point!

There is nothing wrong with chasing happiness, but maybe we shouldn’t be too obsessed with the chase that we prevent ourselves from melancholic moments and we already pretend to be someone we are not or conceal our true self from family and friends.

Cut lose the chase and experience life as it is, with all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows… because no matter what happens, life is still beautiful.

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