Inside Out is a cartoon film about a girl who is traumatised by a move from the Mid West of America to San Francisco. It shows the inside of her mind represented by emotional characters. The cleverness of the film is that to be happy the girl has to be sad. That realising her sadness gives her a depth of feeling that is fitting to the sadness that she feels in relocating.
Doesn’t sound like much?
But yet it goes against the current culture of buying happiness with stuff. Couples want each other to be happy. Parents want children to be happy. Yet on further reflection it isn’t clear exactly what this means.
Does happiness literally to be happy all the time? To be excited with life? To be on an all time high?
For most of us this would be unlikely. The remote kids truck example makes it clearer. Good feelings turn the truck to the left. Bad feelings turn the truck to the right. Notice the language: the description of some feelings as bad already envisages a wanting to get rid of, divert from or suppress. There appears to be no existing word to describe bad or painful feelings in a positive way.
To return to the example: if you could only turn left with out turning right, or vice versa you would end up going around in circles. Same with feelings. If you only allow good feelings to influence you, you are only using half of your emotions to guide you. You end up going around in circles. Also it seems not possible to have only good feelings, as we all have bad feelings, which we can try to avoid and deny. This takes a lot of energy which makes us tired. But in the end we cannot get rid of them: so we we might as well use them to guide through the ups and downs of life.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2015
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This article is designed to provoke argument and critique