For years now, as an author, speaker, and life coach, I’ve been studying the mind and the brain—and what I have discovered is that they are all-powerful and utterly fascinating.
What I have also discovered is that people don’t know much about either. We understand the body, but we know little about the mind-brain system—we lack emotional intelligence (the ability to identify and manage emotions). Being that we are living as chronically stressed human-doers, our chaotic lifestyles allow little room for mind work, and for this reason we tend to think that things need to first change on the outside.
Only those who have ventured down the personal growth and development path understand that all change begins within—that transformation is an inside job.
The science of emotion is such an essential topic, but who would dare to venture into such vulnerable territory? Who would dare to step into something almost as equally stigmatized as mental health?
Well, the directors and producers at Pixar would, and I could not be more proud of their courage. What they have achieved in their recent movie, Inside Out, is far greater than they could possibly know. It’s revolutionary—a paradigm shift.
I’m not here to spoil this movie for others by sharing its exquisite content, but I am here to express my gratitude to Pixar for bringing this timely topic to life, by magically weaving together science, psychology, storytelling, and artistic genius.
At a time when more people of all ages are depressed, anxious, and taking medications of all kinds for stress-related reasons; at a time when the suicide rate is far higher than it needs to be, someone needed to address the issue of feelings and emotions—after all, they drive all behavior. For years I have been struggling to understand why our educational system overlooks and minimizes this issue.
So how else can we educate this generation and the next? Clearly, through the arts. Theatrical productions and movies are made to bring important issues to life—to open minds and hearts by uncovering and sharing the truths about humanity.
And the truth is that we needed a highly respected leader and role model to step up to the plate and teach us. The people at Pixar are my heroes, for taking on this task with dignity and grace and in such a way that every adult and child would benefit from the messages delivered.
And what were some of those very important messages? Well…Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust were personified as the main characters who came to teach us about the interplay between our emotions. They showed us the self-talk within our minds—they opened up a can of worms that our culture would rather keep closed.
We learned so much about the way we speak to ourselves: the different voices in our head—their volume and intensity—and how every different emotion has different thoughts and behaviors associated with it—both good and bad.
We learned the importance of core memories and how they can be changed and reframed depending on our mood and feeling state.
We learned about becoming mindful of our various emotional states—allowing us to recognize just what it means to get emotionally charged—and even perhaps how to tame and quieten the negative self-talk.
We learned that life changes from the inside out, and not vice versa. There are so many people who continue to blame the world and everything external for the circumstances of their lives. The self-help journey is not one that is endorsed by all—but EVERYONE needs to understand the power that lies within them to change their minds, their brains, and thus their lives.
But what we learned, most importantly, was that joy alone is not the path to true happiness. The pursuit of happiness involves the interplay between all emotions—and sadness is essential in getting to joy—so please, don’t push sadness away!
I have now seen this major “emotion picture” twice and still feel as if I have not yet fully grasped all its beauty and complexity. Inside Out was magnificent, heart-warming, creative beyond imagination, and NOTHING was left undone. There were personality islands and long and short-term memories—there was abstract thinking, imagination land, and even a train of thought.
Once again I would like to thank the AMAZING TEAM at Pixar for using their artistic license to the fullest. This company has exceeded my greatest expectation by being part of a most worthy cause and contributing to a greater good. People young and old are relating to and learning from this movie’s most essential life lessons. And what could be more important than teaching tools that will help us to navigate our way through life’s ups and downs?
PS- What sets Disney & Pixar apart from the rest of the world is their drive and mission to create heartwarming pictures—always with an important message to humanity. We are forever grateful!