I recently read the book Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. It is a great read and I highly recommend it. Ed is one of the founders of PIXAR and the book is about their creative process. After reading it, I decided I would watch all of the PIXAR films; turned out to be a great quarantine activity.
There are a lot of good ones, but my favorite PIXAR movie might be Inside Out, the one where Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust work inside the mind of a little girl to help her navigate the world.
One of the things we have come to believe about emotions is that they are valuable. And the movie does a fantastic job showing that it is not as simple as saying joy is good and sadness is bad. They are both good; they both point to a value and awaken their little girl to moments of importance and intimacy.
In thinking about Inside Out, it strikes me that Command Central is not just full of emotions. There are other characters at play.
I like to think of it as a Board Room. And instead of each emotion being a different character, Emotion itself is one character with many ways of expressing itself. Emotion brings value to the enterprise by alerting everyone when something important is at stake or when some value is being pressed. It serves as a sort of alarm system, letting everyone know something weighty is at stake.
The problem with emotions is that they do not really tell you if what is at stake is friend or foe, danger or opportunity. It is just an alarm. Something else needs to take it from there. So, who are the other members of the boardroom? And how do they associate with their colleague Emotion?
A Team Effort
In my head, I imagine characters like Intellect and Choice. Maybe even Behavior or Perspective.
These are the characters that make the significant discernments about who a person is and what they are doing.
Emotion is the character most familiar to us. It is loudest and purest (in a sense) and connected to the core of who we are.
But just like the other members of the board, Emotion is not meant to be a dictator. If we allow Emotion to start to delegate action and perspective, we are not responding well to the very values Emotion is trying to make us aware of. We are giving Emotion too much power. The only thing as dangerous is to ignore Emotion and its warnings completely.
If we want to live healthy, meaningful, and peace-centered lives, we have to acknowledge the value of Emotion and its limitations. We have to see it as a part of the whole and not be afraid to involve the other board members. Just like in Inside Out, healthy and mature living is a product of the parts of ourselves working together properly and effectively.