Part way through the film, Dennis leaned into me and whispered, “This movie is your life. It reminds me of what you went through.”
“I know! If only this movie was out two years ago,” I replied.
Without giving the entire movie away, the story is about Riley, an 11 year-old girl, and her personified emotions: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and Sadness. Each emotion is a character in Riley’s mind that dictates how she’s feeling. They run Riley’s emotional life from Headquarters and store her memories, which are little marbles in Riley’s head. There’s a fair amount of sophisticated psychology behind the childlike interworking’s of Riley’s mind. It’s very clever.
The drama of the movie comes when Riley’s family moves across the country and she tries to put on a happy face while all the core aspects of her personality are challenged by this major change. Joy tries to convince the other emotions that Riley needs to “Think positive!” and be happy, rather than let Fear, Sadness, Anger, or Disgust run the controls.
The epiphany that Joy (and Riley) discover is the same lesson I learned over the past couple years: you have to let yourself feel the entire spectrum of your emotions. You can’t truly feel joy if you don’t allow yourself to feel sadness, anger, fear, disgust, or any other emotion. Once Riley lets herself cry and be sad, she felt the comfort and love of her parents. That scene reminded me of the connection between sorrow and gratitude. They are deeply intertwined; you can’t get rid of one without destroying the other.
Another thing that struck me about this movie was how many of the emotions are considered “negative”. Out of the five feelings, only Joy is acceptable in our day and age. Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust are not considered pleasant emotions and therefore people spend a lot of time trying to avoid or minimize the time they spend feeling them.
When we returned home from our trip, I flipped though a couple pages of The Happiness Trap, just to see what insights grabbed me. Sienna saw the book on the couch and read the title aloud, “The Happiness Trap?”
“Yep. The lesson in this book is basically the same as Inside Out: You have to let yourself feel all of your emotions, instead of just trying to stay happy. That’s the trap.” I told her.
She smiled and nodded, knowingly.
Have you seen the movie yet? What did you think??