This blog series is adapted from my panel at the 2018 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. For those who were unable to make it, here’s what you missed!
According to Dr. Frank Pittman, in his book Grow Up: How Taking Responsibility Can Make You A Happy Adult, at the core of being an adult is the ability to look after yourself and someone else.
Part of growing up is the transition from being entirely reliant on our parents or guardians to fending for ourselves and those around us. This is the crux of adolescence, the struggle for independence and self-determination against the control of our parents or guardians. Ariel, in The Little Mermaid, cries out to her father, “I’m sixteen years old. I’m not a child anymore.” Princess Jasmine similarly pushes back against her father’s control: “Father, I hate being forced into this. If I do marry, I want it to be for love.”
So, if we are to be looking after ourselves, what does Disney actually tell us about being self-sufficient adults? And does the Bible have anything to say?
The first Pixar film in our study. Inside Out deals with the often neglected aspect of our health: our emotional wellness.
The Bible tells us that “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” (Prov. 17:22). Do we think about that?
We all know that we should eat our broccoli and maybe get on a bike every now and then, but how many of us actually take regular time to check in with out emotional self? Do we have memories that are eating away at our wellbeing? Do we carry grudges and fears?
Seeing as half of our population will deal with depression or an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives and up to a third of us reading this post are dealing with one of those right now, we really need to take a look at how our emotions are affecting us.
Do we, like Riley, have Joy as our emotional leader? Or does Anger have the controls, destroying intimacy and relationships left, right, and centre? Does Disgust keep us from enjoying the little things in life? Does Sadness threaten to overwhelm our life and keep us blue? Does Fear keep us from trying new things or making new friends?
Ultimately, we see in Inside Out that we need a balanced emotional life to thrive. Joy brings hope when our days get hard. Sadness allows us to mourn when life gets painful. Anger propels us to fight against oppression and can help us overcome life’s obstacles. Fear keeps us alive, often quite literally. And Disgust can keep us out of trouble, if we train her well.
Yet, of the five of these emotions, only Joy makes it into the list of spiritual fruit found in Galatians 5. Perhaps we should cultivate Joy while keeping tabs on the other emotions (of which, to be fair, there are far more than five. The five in Inside Out should just be a starting point.)
Big Hero 6:
Unlike Hiro Hamada, few of us have access to a lovable robot nurse that knows exactly what we need for optimal physical and psychological health. But if we look at Baymax’s suggestions in the film, we can learn a few practical tips:
“You have a slight epidermal abrasion on your forearm. I suggest an antibacterial spray.”
“It is alright to cry. Crying is a natural response to pain.”
“Puberty can often be a confusing time for an adolescent flowering into manhood.”
But ultimately, we need to know that sometimes, as an adult, we need to take the advice of others. If we become so proud that we cannot listen to expert opinion, we run the risk of isolating ourselves and ignoring possible life-saving information. The Proverbs agree, letting us in on this tidbit: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety,” (Prov. 11:14). Hiro ignores Baymax’s suggestion for emotional healing and instead focuses on revenge. It’s only later that he discovers that revenge won’t make him feel better.
Generations of people who seek only physical comfort and fast food lead to something like this:
1 Cor. 9:27 tells us: “But I discipline by body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Let’s just make sure we go for a walk and eat our vegetables, shall we?