3 life lessons from Disney’s SOUL to take into 2021


We can all admit 2020 was a special kind of year, one some wish we could have passed over, written off or or slept through.  With rampant pandemic cases, record-breaking unemployment and economic troubles all around but what if there was another option? 

On December 25, Soul, a new movie by Disney and Pixar, premiered. It is a beautiful story that according to its production documentary was a labor of love centered around the story of Joe, a music teacher who dreams of being a jazz musician.  

Spoiler alert! New souls are so cute!

Soul is such a beautiful movie that talks about life and death in such a way that totally makes the Great Beyond and the Great Before easy for everyone to understand. It’s sweet. 

And I love Jerry! 

Jerry:I am the coming together of all quantized fields of the universe. Appearing in a form your feeble human brain can comprehend.

Joe: What?

Counselor Jerry A: You can call me Jerry.

Played by many Jerrys 😍 because as a construct of energy there is no gender and all genders at the same time. (It just makes sense, for my feeble human brain anyway.)

And the only way Joe can think of going back to Earth is by helping mentor a new soul,22, that’s refusing to be born because  Earth just doesn’t seem enticing. 

As their adventure continues, they learn about what Joe’s life really looked like, what 22’s potential spark might be, and what happens when people are in the zone. 

What I really loved about this movie was the really complicated and yet beautiful ways that they illustrated these moments that happen in life that make us question so much. 

‘You can’t crush a soul here. That’s what life on Earth is for.’ – 22 (Soul) 

So what are the most important takeaways from this incredible film? 

Find Your Spark

That which makes you- You. 

The beauty of this is that according to Soul, personalities, quirks and your spark are all things that are brought into the world with us. So what makes this spark the thing that makes life living? Sometimes we forget and need to find it again. 

Your spark isn’t your purpose. That last box fills in when you’re ready to come live. And the thing is you’re really great at jazzing. -Joe

That’s what 22 learns after inhabiting Joe’s body for a time, that being on Earth is a learning process from birth to death. We learn how to use our bodies, how to appreciate the world around us, and it’s not until 22 see it for herself that she understands what might be the appeal to living.

 Don’t miss out on the joys of life.-Joe

What Happens When You Confuse Passion with Purpose?

If you’re like Joe, he thinks he’s meant to be a jazz musician so his life as a part time music teacher is a disappointment. He imagines life should be different and he’s not leading the life he was meant to. 

While Joe thinks music teacher isn’t his ideal and Dorothea Williams seems to agree with him. His mother, his former student Curly and his current student Connie think being a teacher is the role that Joe was meant to be thriving in. 

Music is all I think about from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I fall asleep at night. -Joe

You can’t eat dreams for breakfast, Joey. -Mom

Then I don’t want to eat. -Joe

What’s a lost soul? 

The most pivotal moment that occurs in realizing that learning how to live in the world is just as important as following your passions is the really beautiful scene in the barbershop. 22, as Joe, goes in to get a shape-up and his barber, Dez, explains how life changed for him when his dream of being a veterinarian changed when life’s commitments changed. Joe assumed Dez was born to cut hair and because he’d never shown interest in speaking to Dez about anything except music Joe lost out on making an actual connection.

As someone once told me,

Everyone has a life, no one knows about.

So find purpose in not only that which you are passionate about but find purpose in anything that life throws your way. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in focusing on this one thing that we don’t see anything else. Don’t see all of the potential around us.

Don’t Become a Lost Soul

In Soul, a lost soul is someone who’s passion has turned into obsession. Which is just what happens to 22 after she comes back from Earth. There’s nothing worse than finding your spark only to have others’ expectations and stories replay in your mind, make that which is worth living-not. Like all of the failed mentors that 22 has had to over the centuries, from Mother Teresa to Copernicus and Muhammad Ali, they all told her she was the worst and didn’t deserve to live.

I’ve had thousands of mentors who failed and now hate me. – 22

I have compassion for every soul. Except you. I don’t like you. – Mother Teresa

Nobody can help you! Nobody! -Marie Antoinette

So once she had a taste of life, Joe also took it away and like everyone else. Told her she wouldn’t amount to anything. So all of those mentors words, created a lost soul.

Sometimes when others, especially those that are meant to help, fail us. And when I say fail, fail is such a way because they are human and have a certain expectation of life, for themselves, that they have now placed on you, it can make us question ourselves. Question our purpose, our spark, our self-worth.

Life is full of possibilities. You just need to know where to look. -Joe Gardner

Live Life

Maybe because it’s Disney or because it makes for a sweet ending, Joe is giving another chance at life because Jerry was so inspired by him. And this is the part that makes the story open-ended.

How are you going to spend your life? -Jerry

I’m not sure, but I do know I’m gonna live every minute of it.

We don’t know if he returns to teaching or becomes a professional musician, but we do know he has an opportunity to have a new outlook on life.

Sometimes we find ourselves living a regretful life, hating that which lies in front of us because we wish it was different and instead of doing something about it- we just complain. We never take that trip we dream of, never find that job that we love, never have the kind of relationship we deserve. All because we were too afraid to live and go get it.

Life is messy and complicated. It’s not fair and it can be really hard- full of disappointment and failed attempts, but a life not truly lived is the most disappointing of all.

Find joy, learn gratitude, practice empathy and love.

We may not be living the life of our dreams but it’s better to live life than not have a life worth living.

There’s always an opportunity to learn, a chance to reflect, a behavior to change for the better. It’s not too late and hopefully 2021 will be the start of all us learning how to live life to its full potential.

Yours in kind,

Jessy Santana

Published by JSantana

Obsessed with Intentional Inclusivity and Fierce Belonging. Delivering Culture-Driven Leaders.

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