Six Lessons From Pixar’s Soul

1. Cultivating emptiness is how we gain peace. Once on earth, 22 embodied emptiness, a willingness to see the world without a lens. And without a lens, 22 was no longer trapped; everything was beautiful. Joe was trapped by his failures, defined by who he wasn’t, as opposed to who he was. Terry was defined by his need to be right, ultimately manipulated and used by everyone around him. But it’s easy to knock emptiness. It’s not efficient, nor can it guarantee outcomes. Characters like Terry can impose their will on the world, and it often works. But in the long run, emptiness brings peace. Emptiness creates the conditions for connections, purpose, flow, and wonder. Terry and Joe had a hard time connecting because they imposed their lenses onto everyone else. When 22 as Joe remarks to Dez, Joe’s barber, “I can’t believe you never told me about your life before,” Dez responds, “you never asked.” Look at the world with fresh, empty eyes, and the depth of world reveals itself.

2. Our negative self-talk is the most debilitating thing we experience. When 22 is reliving bad memories, previous comments from Joe are warped and replayed to attack them. Someone may say something bad to us once. But if we replay it in our minds 500 more times, who is really hurting us?

3. Life is our presence to it. The lost souls walk the dark sand because they turned inward, missing the life just in front of their eyes. It’s why they look down instead of ahead.

4. Our life purpose is created not destined. It can be anything. From playing the piano, to witnessing a leaf fall. We are the universe observing itself. We assign the purpose. The objects that 22 gathers — the lollipop, the half eaten bagel, the leaf — all seem infinitely important in 22’s hands. But when Joe puts the items on his piano, they lack spark, they’re not special. It’s not the what that matters, it’s the lens we look at it through. We can attain our dreams, but just as Joe saw after finally playing with Dorothea, it’s just another moment. And if we’re not present to that moment, that meaning  fades.

5. We can experience death, rebirth, and redemption right now.

6. Everything is art. Everything we do is art.

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