How Pixar’s “Soul” Reminded Us About Finding One’s Purpose

If you happened to watch the latest Pixar’s gem, “Soul”, then you’d know it is indeed good for the soul. (pun intended) Here are 5 lessons that we can take away from it and how it reminded us about finding one’s purpose. (Warning: This article contains some spoilers ahead!)

Your passions and traits make up who you are. But this doesn’t mean you are only defined by the things that are important to you. Like in the movie, the things we are passionate about make up a chunk of our personality and we do have that one special passion that inspires us to move forward in life, that is our spark.

Mentorship and sandboxes are important. For us to find our spark, we find inspiration in everything, like the things we love to do or the persons we look up to, for example is our mentors. It is a healthy relationship between mentor and mentees, sharing and passing along knowledge and guidance to be successful in the field. At times, our mentors can help us find our spark.

However, in Filipino culture, there is what we call Padrino System where one gains favor or a promotion by means of family affiliation or friendship, and not because that person is capable and competent. We need to veer away from this kind of system and create a mentorship culture especially in our workplaces and institutions.

In the Kdrama “Start-up”, startup companies had mentors to guide them as they ventured into business and idea-based solutions and were never afraid to try new things because they had Sandbox, a fictional safe place, something like a Google Campus, where they can learn, collaborate, experiment, fail or succeed. Like a sandbox, they were not worried to fail and fall on a hard ground, because they knew that Sandbox is their cushion so they would not get hurt. But there is no Sandbox in the real world. What we can do though, is to define and create our own sandboxes—-places and people who support us no matter what such as a community built in the workplace, friends and families.

Being in the zone shows our strengths and weaknesses too. Have you ever felt joy while finishing a module with ease? How about doing so good in playing a video game or a sport and that gave you immense excitement? That’s what it means about being in the zone. People find joy and bliss while in the zone because they are doing something very skillfully and easily. 

One character from the movie then asked, “But, what if that joy becomes an obsession?” If I may add, what if it becomes a source of anxiety and exhaustion, which gives us a feeling that we aren’t our best anymore? All these feelings and mental states lead to burnout.

Recovery is the key against burnout. When we can’t control our passions anymore, sometimes they consume and burn us out . According to Rahaf Harfoush, a digital anthropologist, there’s also a pandemic-induced burnout magnified by a culture of overwork, distraction of internet and social media, and prolonged lockdown.

Few tips from experts to recover from burnout or prevent it too:

  • Pay attention to discomfort.
  • Recovery is as valuable as work.
  • Give yourselves time and self-care.

Your IKIGAI is something only you can define. In the Philippines, a famous coffee commercial boldy asks, “Para kanino ka bumabangon?” (To whom do you wake up for?) For me, this is a good reminder about inspiration, but sometimes, this question tends to be overly-romantacized and just disregards the other factors on why we are doing things and just continue living anyway.

Unlike in Japan, there is a concept called, “IKIGAI” meaning a reason for being. “IKI” literally means life and “GAI” means purpose. It originated from Okinawa, the birthplace of KARATE. Interestingly, it is also the place with the most number of 100 year-olds alive. The discipline of Karate and life expectancy of Okinawans tell us something about living a purposeful life through finding your ikigai.

As my organization say, it is a sweet spot, an intersection of profession, passion, mission, and vocation. Some may argue that the ikigai diagram is not accurate and just a western misrepresentation of Japan’s ikigai, but I do believe that this can be just your sample treasure map in finding your own’s purpose. At the end of the day, it is us who will define how are we gonna live our lives and find our purpose.

Sometimes we get caught up and focus too much on the idea of “para kanino ka bumabangon?”. When we always look at the big picture, we forget the little things that matter which can eventually lead us to a lifetime of joy. It’s okay for us to take a step back from our dream and enjoy the little things in life and to live life every minute of it.

“Pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life”.

Marie Kondo , tidying expert

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