Why Pixar’s Soul is a Must-Watch: The Life Lessons it Taught Me

Recently, I spent the weekend with my cousin in the house just like 80% of the world currently quarantining indoors until life goes back to normal. We decided to watch the movie ‘Soul’ on Disney+ and boy am I glad we did. Pixar’s Soul follows the life of a middle school band teacher who dreams of becoming a world renowned Jazz Musician. He believes it’s his life’s purpose and rejects anyone who says otherwise.

He finally gets a shot at performing with one of the greatest town musicians. Moments later, he loses his life in an accident and it lands him into the “Greater Unknown” which led him to ‘You Seminar’. It’s basically the afterlife full of souls without bodies. While he’s down there, he discovers more about his life than he intended too. The ‘You Seminar’ dropped some gems that we can all use in our lives, especially right now.

This film gave me so much more than I intended when I turned it on. Here are some things that stuck with me throughout the film and hopefully they stick with you too and give you perspective. Spoiler Alert (for those who haven’t seen the film yet).

“Lost souls are not different from the zone. The zone is enjoyable but when that joy becomes obsessive, one becomes disconnected with life”

I think we all become lost souls at one point. Constantly chasing contentment, success, and love but if we’re constantly moving and searching for something to happen in the future or living in the past, we can’t find the magic in today. Meanwhile, life passes us by. When we can’t find these things that we search for, we become anxious, depressed, resentful and we waste the gift of life. In 2020, we all had something taken away from us in some way and I’m sure happiness is something we’re all searching for. Truth is, it’s here, it’s there….It’s everywhere. Just as Joe had to tune into his physical surrounding to get his soul back, so do all of us.

Joe, the main character, roams throughout the film to get back into his body. He attempts to help the soul he’s mentoring, 22, find her purpose. Eating pizza, walking down the street and hearing live music are all things she thinks are her purpose after coming down to earth. Joe tells her “Those aren’t purposes, that’s just regular ol’ living” but that’s not the truth. Gratitude is one of the keys to ever lasting contentment. I’m so thankful that my legs work every day and that I can walk anywhere I want to. I’m grateful to have my sight to see the sky everyday and get lost in the clouds. I’m beyond appreciative of Krispy Kreme donuts that have gotten me through quarantine. 22 found joy in just living and existing in the world.

Some people are fine with searching for the joy in each day. I mean, isn’t that the purpose of life? To find something we enjoy? There’s definitely one thing in an each day that we can like and even, love to learn. For instance, I find joy in music every single day. I may be doing Karaoke in my room as it rains but ya know what? It’s my joy, damn it. I will find it by any means and so should you. After all, there’s enough to be sad about it in the world as is, why not appreciate the small things.

Joe became so focused on making his spark be his life purpose and he was so set on trying to make that his sole reason for living. Little did he know that he already made a lasting impact and he had several purposes in life. He had plenty of reasons for living. He touched the lives of several generations of students. He had two beautiful supportive parents who were proud of him.

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When the main character finally fulfills his dream of performing with one of the greats, he is still unfulfilled. This is a feeling I’ve had a lot this year. I just about had everything I ever wished for ten years ago and sadly, I still felt empty until I did some soul searching and changed my perspective. We have thousands of thoughts a day and a lot of them are recycled. We often think that joy is going to come from obtaining a certain statue, a certain amount of figures in our account, or by instant gratification. We’re “jazzing” when these things happen and then when they stop or don’t remain at a constant, we feel defeated. But what I’ve realized, happiness isn’t found in one thing. There’s happiness in each day if we just find the joy in living.

In todays world, things can seem so bleak and superficial. We all live through our phones, our devices and we don’t put them down no matter how miserable they make us. We strive for perfection, we all want vanity, we all don’t feel that we are doing enough because we can find someone else who is “doing better” with the twiddle of our thumbs but that’s us not appreciating the beauty of living. One of the most consistent things in our life is change. We can always count on it. Therefore, we cannot be stagnant when life gets rough or when we get the bad news, the bad break, or when we didn’t receive that promotion. It’s there. It’s everywhere and it’s IN you, not outside of you.

In one scene, the two main characters, 22 and Joe are in the Barbershop. The barber tells them that he originally planned on being a veterinarian but life took a turn and somehow he decided to be a barber. He even said “I may not be giving blood transfusions, but I’m still saving lives”. That’s a perspective all of us can try to adopt. A job title does not make you who you are. Whatever fulfills you, does. Every job is valuable. I don’t care where you work. It could be McDonalds, Home Depot, the hospital, a janitor, a maid, a surgeon, or an office clerk. By doing your job, you’re not only helping someone else, you’re adding value and being of service. Oprah Winfrey says that being excellent and being of service is what life’s about. She says “Be excellent, people notice no matter what you do” and she’s absolutely right.

I don’t know about ya’ll, but when I leave earth I want people to remember me for who I was and the value I added to their lives and if it happens to be one of my old customers in the drive-thru who remembers my spirit then so be it! Life does not operate on a script and if it does, it changes every second. We must not let life change us though. Maybe your life isn’t going how you thought it be but what if it went as you planned, you may not have had the emotion that you thought you would feel.

Another scene that made me reflect was a particular moment where a fella was singing and playing his guitar on the subway. He was quite talented and he was jazzing for sure. He wasn’t famous in any way but he still found joy and purpose in singing for bystanders as they passed him by all day long. Joe believed his life was meaningless. He felt that way because he wasn’t a big-time musician yet. It crushed his soul that he wasn’t living out the “dream” everyday. It’s safe to say, he didn’t see the spark in his every day life. He gets stuck in the alternative realm with 22, a soul floating around in the You Seminar with no intentions of going out to the world.

If I’ve grasped anything from this year by the books I’ve read and just plan ol’ living is that we can’t be attached to outcome because that will leave us endlessly searching and endless disappointment. Look at it like this, we all have things we want to do. Some people have started a business and quit within a year and why? Because it wasn’t an immediate success. Well, here’s the thing. Your clothing brand that you’ve been working on may not become huge but that doesn’t lessen its value. Just because you make music, and you haven’t been discovered yet, doesn’t mean you aren’t extremely talented or that your music hasn’t touched someone. Everybody isn’t meant to be world-renowned like Tupac or Jay-Z. Or just because you have a blog and it’s not widely known on twitter or Instagram, it doesn’t mean that you’re a terrible writer. We can’t let these obsessions and outcomes get into the it’s easy to feel these things in today’s world but don’t let those thoughts stick with you and cause you to lose your soul.

There’s a taste of heaven with that first bite of something sugary, there’s magic in those random smiles when you think of the ones you love, there’s purpose in the pain and the best part of life is the impact we have on the world and people. Do what makes you feel good even if no one is watching. I find meaning and purpose in life knowing that I’m 100% myself no matter what. I have a purpose just like you, but I won’t let my quest for that interfere with my ability to appreciate where I’m at right now in life.

Lessons I’ve learned from this incredible film:

Love what you do no matter what that may look like to others.

Don’t take anything for granted.

Every life is worth something.

Your soul is what people will remember the most.

Where you are is where you’re meant to be.

Live every minute with gratitude and grace.

You may already be living the dream.

Oh yeah, and one last thing. Please watch this remarkable film if you haven’t already done so. It’s the best way to end the year and reflect.

Just writing what's in my notes and in my heart.

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