Life lesson from Disney and Pixar’s Soul

DISCLAIMER: This will include all from minor to major spoiler of the movie. Suggest to rent the movie or go to the cinema and watch it before continuing this post. That is, if you’re anything like me and hate even minor spoilers.

Disney and Pixar’s move Soul (2020)1 had some very fine life lessons regarding “How to seek your purpose in life?”.

How NOT to seek happiness

One major common misconception about our perception on life is that every person has a purpose in life. A singular goal and destiny. Once that person has reached that goal, their life is complete, and that the joy of life starts from there.

This is bad. As the movie tries to demonstrate with its main protagonist, Joe Gardner, is that when he finally achieves his dream of his life [to play in a jazz band] he doesn’t feel overjoyed. He just feels, kind of, average.

It goes together with the age old adage: “It’s about the journey, not the destination”.

Life has no purpose. You cannot try seeking your whole life after some mystical singular purpose that will finally make you happy, or something others will remember you after. Seeking such a goal may make you feel like Gardner in Soul that when you finally achive your dream, like when a dog finally caches up to the car they’re chasing, you don’t know what to do next.

As Anna Menta so beautifully put it in her analysis on Soul on “You shouldn’t wait for life to begin.” (Menta, 20202) It’s an invalid thought that life starts any time other than when you’re first conscious. Assuming otherwise means that you are trying to redefine the concept of life just to push yourself onto success, while accepting the pentalty of discard all memories and history that made you into the person you are right now, and that without reaching said goal that you’re lifeless.

Finding your purpose in life

Enjoying life is the ultimate purpose. Does not get less abstract than that.

Wether you belive in free will or not, you must not neglect that you’re still experiencing life throughout your entire life. You needn’t be enjoying every single bit, nor lack spikes of joy. A monotone life is arguably less exiting than a rollercoaster of emotions.

The movie tries to emphasize through 22’s perspective the joy of noticing the small details in our world. It’s not childish to be happy by leaf landing in your palm, but instead you may be astonished by the chance of such an occurrence.

Your “spark”

The movie Soul talks about your “spark”. In its story the “spark” is one of the criteria a soul needs before entering a body on earth.

This spark is not your purpose in life, but what the movie tries to do is let you fall into Joe Gardner’s belif that it is. It is your will to live. Your soul obtains it by trying some human activities to see if there’s something one earth that will make them want to go there.

If you had the opportunity to fill your hungry stomache with pizza, hit bullseye with your bow and arrow, talk to strangers and friends over everything from deep to nonsense topics, would you stay on earth? That’s the kind of question the souls in the movie try to fill into their “spark” slot of their badge. And NOT what their purpose is.

“[At the end of the movie], Joe realizes that a “spark” is not about having a single purpose—it’s about enjoying regular old living.” (Menta, 20202)

  1. Docter, P. (Director). (2020). Soul [Film]. Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios.

  2. Menta, A. (2020, December 29). What Was 22’s Spark in ‘Soul’? The Disney Movie’s Powerful Ending Explained. Decider.