The prompt for June 3 is: “A movie that makes you happy & why?” I generally watch movies that are serious, but I do have a few that I watch for the sheer pleasure they bring me. Most people who know me well, know that one of my favorite movies is What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams, but it isn’t a movie that makes me happy. In fact, the movie is very sad, and depending on how you take the ending can either leave you feeling despair or hope.
One of my favorite happy movies is Inside Out, and I think it’s the one I will talk about here. Let me begin by saying that my two favorite characters in the movie are Sadness and Bing Bong, for obviously different reasons. The scene *spoiler alert* where Bing Bong dies is probably Gen Z’s Artax drowning in the swamp of sadness, and I imagine many, many therapists in about ten years will have people spilling out to them how traumatic watching Bing Bong die was for them.
What I love about Bing Bong, though, is not that he dies, but that he exists. As I watch more and more students come through my doors, I wonder where their imagination has gone, I wonder where their curiosity has gone, and I wonder why they don’t just play as much anymore. Intellectually, I know the answers to all of these questions, but in my heart of hearts, I wonder why we as people have allowed ourselves to get to a place as a culture where having fun, being creative, using our imaginations, and playing have become something that we encourage people to grow out of as quickly as possible. So, Bing Bong’s mere existence, and the fact that every single student cries when he dies, makes me hopeful that we can, in some way, sense that we need innocence, we need playfulness, and we need rockets made out of wagons and silly songs to power them.
My other favorite character is Sadness, and I love her because, in much the same way that we drive play out of people at a young age, we also drive the ability to be sad, to lament, to be sorrowful out of people. Have you ever watched a small child mourn something? The emotions are deep, the sorrow is full, and the tears are real. Now have you ever watched an adult interact with a child who is mourning? Many, many times, because the adult is uncomfortable with their own sadness, they will project that onto the child, telling the child to dry their tears, telling them that everything will be okay, asking them why they are making such a big deal out of such a small thing. We are robbed, at a young age, of our ability to be sad. We’ve lost our ability to, the art of, sitting in sackcloth and ashes with each other.
Feeling Sadness is essential to feeling Joy, as the movie illustrates. Emotions, in many ways, are dependent upon each other to work. Brene Brown has a great quote where she talks about how drugs and alcohol don’t just dampen the emotions that we don’t want to feel, but they dampen all of our emotions. In much the same way, only limiting ourselves to one set of emotions, leaning toward happiness, dampens out ability to feel happiness, joy, and all those other positive emotions. There is also a lot of pressure in trying to keep that smile on, when our bodies and brains are telling us that we should be sad, or thoughtful, or frustrated, or any other “negative” emotion.
So, Inside Out makes me so happy, because in the end, we learn that we need all of our emotions in order to thrive as humans. We need to feel deep sadness, we need to feel anger, we need to feel disgust, we need to feel fear, and we need to feel joy. All of them are valid, all of them should be expressed and supported, and all of them help us interact with the world around us.
Also, here’s an emotion wheel to help you describe the emotions you’re feeling in a more precise way: