15 Lessons From “Inside Out”

If you haven’t watched Pixar’s latest movie, “Inside Out”, and is planning to do so, please DO NOT read this yet. I don’t want to be a spoiler. This is only for those who have watched it or have no intention to watch it at all. After reading this, you might just watch it anyway.

Okay, enough with the confusing talk.

For the record, I love love love love luuurrrrvvveeee “Inside Out”!!!! In fact, to me, this is probably Pixar’s best work yet!

Before the movie was released, there was the building up with all the brain teasing, curiosity tickling trailers. Phoebie watched the trailers and fell in love with the movie months ago. She started counting down to the movie ever since. Even though the show premiered in the U.S. in June 2015, it only came to our shores here in Singapore on 27 August 2015. But you know, the wait was worth it.

A few days before I watched the show, one of the guys I met on a freelance job told me, “Inside Out is quite deep.” “For the kids?” I asked, worried that Phoebie may not understand the film. “Oh no, the kids will love it. It’s deep for adults,” he explained.

I only found out how deep when I went to catch the show with Ben and Phoebie.


Here are some lessons I took away after watching the film (and by the way, I am going to buy the blu-ray once it is available!):

  1. Childhood Memories Are Mostly Happy – This is true probably for most kids who grew up in a setting where the parents are loving and spend quality time with them. Which reminds me of how important quality time with kids are. It starts right from the time they are born, Riley, the character whose emotions play the leads of the film, had mostly joyful memories from young. Up until the age of 11, her core memories were all joyful.
  2. Childhood Memories Shape The Character Of A Child – By this point, I am probably starting to make this film sound like some psychology lesson squeezed into a Pixar film. Riley‘s character was pretty much built around her memories. When I think about my own childhood, I find it to be quite true. Perhaps not 100%, but it is certainly true up to a certain level.
  3. How We End Our Day With Our Kids Matter – More than one time in the film, Riley went to bed with emotions that were not joy. But how the parents went to her bed to talk to her before she fell asleep made a difference. When Riley was confused by her Dad’s reaction on the first night they moved into their new home, the little talk with her mum perked her up. When she was upset with her Dad at dinner one night, her Dad came to her when she was in bed to talk about what happened. While Riley didn’t respond much, her Dad cooling off and talking nicely to her before bed became part of her memory. That will be something she will remember of her relationship with her Dad.
  4. Some Emotions Are Not As Negative As We Think – It’s easy for us to relate an emotion like Joy as something positive. Most of the time, we relate to some of the other emotions as negative; fear, anger, disgust and sadness are generally branded as emotions that are not desirable or not good. Looking into Riley‘s headquarters, however, has shown us otherwise. Fear caused Riley to be careful and prevented her from getting hurt or into trouble a number of times throughout the film.
    Disgust showed us that we don’t always have to conform and we can have our own preferences, even if they are different from other people’s.
    Anger allowed Riley to display to her parents that something was amiss and caused her parents to talk to her about it.
    Sadness made those around Riley aware of how she felt when she failed at doing something well, and allowed those who care about her to rally around her and support her.
  5. Every Person Has A Different “Dominating” Emotion – Ben, my husband, pointed out to me that it was interesting that every character in the film whose “headquarters” was featured had a different emotion leading discussions when something was going on. This reminds me that every person has a different emotion that tends to show up more than others.
  6. We Cannot Expect People To Be Always Happy – Joy, the main emotion of the film, while being the main feeling that Riley seem to have from birth till age 11, expects that everyone can be joyful like her. She always tries to put a positive spin on whatever happens to Riley and tell the other emotions what to do. When Sadness tries to be more involved with Riley‘s daily events, Joy tries to put Sadness on other duties so that Riley will not be sad. It is only through Joy’s quest to get back to headquarters that she learnt that her expectation of Riley being always happy was a one-sided thing on her part. She realises that in her (somewhat) wilful ways, she failed to see that Sadness had a part to play in bringing Joy in. Riley may have been sad in some memories, but she experienced Joy when people she loved showed her concern and support.
  7. Some Memories Will Be Lost Forever – There will always be life events we cannot remember and people whom we have met but have since forgotten. There will always be that toy we once had, loved and cherished and yet, forgotten as we grow older and our minds get flooded with new things to think about.
  8. Some Things Inevitably Get ReplacedBing Bong was once upon a time a very important part of Riley‘s life but as Riley grew older, Bing Bong was slowly chucked into long term memory and eventually replaced by an imaginary boyfriend (who “will die for Riley“).
  9. Some Things Just Stick In Our Heads, No Matter How Long It Has Been – That chewing gum commercial song keeps coming up in Riley‘s memories every now and then, whether she likes it or not. I think we all have some annoying-sounding commercial songs that we will always randomly recall, for no reason or rhyme, and we just can’t explain it.
  10. It Is OKAY To Be Sad – Joy had to go on a journey that took up most of the film to realise that. From the time Riley was born, Joy took pride in being the main emotion that Riley related to for most of her memories. Joy tried to prevent Sadness from being involved in Riley‘s emotions as much as she could, until Joy herself experienced some sorrow (I know this sounds confusing, but if you have watched the film, you will more or less understand) during her journey to get back to headquarters. It was only when Joy experienced some form of sadness herself did she find out that it is okay to be sad about some memories. It was also then that Joy drew strength from her sadness that she got her fighting spirit back to try to get out of the pit of lost memories.
  11. It is OKAY To Feel More Than One Emotion At A Time – Before Joy and Sadness got sucked out of headquarters, Riley only associated one emotion with each life event she recalled. By the end of the film, after Joy has learnt that Riley doesn’t have to feel Joy about everything, the memory balls for each life event starts to have more than one emotion in each one of them. Riley may have been sad about missing that goal but felt joy when her parents and her friends showed their love for her. Her emotions associated with that memory changed from one to more than one.
  12. The Leader Isn’t Always Right – In Riley‘s set of emotions, Joy seems to be the leader and is always telling the other emotions what to do. She particularly makes it a point to keep Sadness out as much as she can. She feels that she is always right, until she realised how Riley needed Sadness too. Sadness was the reason Riley aborted her plan to run back to Minnesota and go home to her parents.
  13. If We Don’t Speak Up, People Won’t Know What We Are Thinking About – Most of the film took place when Riley and her parents moved from Minnesota to San Fransisco; while Riley went through every emotion from Joy to Sadness to Disgust to Anger and to Fear, her parents were not aware of how she felt. That is, until she nearly took a bus back to Minnesota. Right before the bus went onto the Interstate Highway, Riley aborted her plan and went home. She ended up in a tearful embrace with her parents and finally told them about how she has been feeling about the family’s big move. It was also only then did Riley hear her parents say that they shared her sentiments.
  14. There Is Always A Reason to Feel Negative About Something But There Is Also Always A Positive Point About It Too – When Riley first arrived in her new home in San Fransisco, all the emotions took turns to find fault with the new house and the new area. Disgust couldn’t stand the smell in the new house, Fear worried about strange noises he heard and Anger hated how San Fransisco “ruined pizza”. Joy managed to spin every situation around, however, so that Riley could find something to be happy about.
  15. Emotions Mature As We Grow, For Most People At Least – Simply compare Riley‘s set of emotions with that of her parents’.

Up to this point, I think I have made “Inside Out” sound like a movie for Psychology students. Yet the Pixar film has brought out all these things that are so true and yet so overlooked most of the time. If you still haven’t watched “Inside Out”, at least watch the trailer.


Some friends bought the “Inside Out” audio book for Phoebie on her birthday and she has been listening to it all day. The more she listened to it, the more lessons I uncovered from it. So here are some more points!
16. Some people will not see your worth/capabilities – Joy never understood why Riley needed Sadness. As a result, she didn’t see what Sadness could do for Riley.

17. Some people will always make you feel less of yourself – Because Joy didn’t understand Sadness’ worth, she would always tell Sadness to stand in a circle and stay away from the console. Sadness felt lousy about herself all the time because of that.

18. Everyone is capable of something, even when we cannot see it – Joy witnessed how Sadness talked to Bing Bong and couldn’t understand how Sadness made Bing Bong feel better by being sad. She only realized Sadness’ worth and capabilities when she was in the memory dump and saw the sad memory that led to a joyful memory.

And now, we are waiting excitedly for the DVD of the film to come out! 🙂 


2 thoughts on “15 Lessons From “Inside Out”

  1. Pingback: DIY Lantern – Inside Out’s Joy | Mummy Priscilla

  2. Pingback: Phoebie’s 5th Birthday – Decorations | Mummy Priscilla

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