How Disney Lied And Screwed Up A Whole Generation (And Why You Haven’t Found Your Passion Yet)
“And they lived happily ever after…” – Every Disney fairy tale ever made.
The Little Mermaid was released as a movie by Disney in 1989. Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie: Ariel falls in love with a Prince. She strikes a deal with Ursula (the Sea Witch) which gives Ariel three days to make The Prince fall in love with her and give her a ‘first kiss’ so she can stay human forever with him.
Ursuala sabotages her plans. Ariel fails. But the Prince eventually comes and saves the day, killing Ursula. Then Ariel’s father gives her his blessing to be a human and live “happily ever after” as a human with the Prince.
But that’s not how the story was originally written. Disney’s dirty little secret is… they changed the ending.
The original story was published in 1837 by Hans Christian Andersen. In the original story, Ariel makes a similar deal with the Sea Witch after falling in love with a Prince. But the Prince marries another woman.
Ariel, in a fit of rage (probably because she has some abandonment issues she hasn’t worked through) makes a similar deal with the Sea Witch. But this time the deal is, if she kills the Prince in his sleep, she will be free to leave the painful human world behind and go back to being a mermaid.
Ariel chooses not to kill the Prince and instead, she commits suicide by jumping off a boat into the ocean.
And get this… as a reward for her selfless sacrifice, she becomes an ‘earthbound spirit,’ and she’s given the chance to earn her human soul by doing good deeds for mankind for 300 years.
The Original lesson: be selfless in your actions and in your loving.
The Disney lesson: prince charming will save you when you screw things up.
And this is why we have a generation of people living with a distorted perspective of reality.
Generation Y is stereotypically known for being narcissistic, entitled and spoiled. We haven’t had to endure many hardships and we’re constantly wanting ‘more’ from life.
We’re a generation who is often lost. And we solve for that lostness by helping other people become unlost by becoming a life coach.
But this isn’t another article ragging on Gen Y.
Far from it. I’m part of this generation. I experience my own sense of entitlement and narcissism. So I’m going to do what any true generation Y person should…
I’m going to blame someone else.
I Blame You, Disney, for Our Screwed Up Perspective Of Reality
I blame your short stories. Your fairy tales. Your princesses in distress and your prince charmings who always managed to save the day.
These were our imprints of reality growing up. And they have ruined us from being in touch with Truth.
Stories and fables used to teach us about how the world works. Now they’re used to entertain by creating a fantasy world. And they’re leaving kids with a warped perspective of reality.
Take the example of the Tortoise and the Hare. The hare makes fun of how big and slow the tortoise is. So the tortoise challenges him to a race. The hare, being cocky and overconfident in his ability, takes off. Since he’s far ahead of the tortoise, he lays down to take a nap.
When he wakes up, he realizes the tortoise has passed him and he loses the race.
The lessons are beautiful. Don’t be cocky or overconfident in your abilities. Slow and steady wins the race.
But what if Disney changed the ending of that story?
Imagine the hare wins the race. If a 4 year old boy listened to that version of the story, what would his interpretation of the life lesson be?
Be cocky. Use your natural gifts and slack off. Make fun of people not as skilled as you.
When you change the ending of a story, you change the whole meaning of the story.
In The Little Mermaid, the lesson shifts “self sacrifice for love” to “if you screw up bad enough, prince charming will save you and you’ll live happily ever after.”
That is the model our generation has been unconsciously taught over and over through stories. Life should be easy. Everyone’s a winner. There’s always a ‘happily ever after.’
This lack of being in touch with reality has left a whole generation feeling lost, entitled and wondering: Where is my princess / prince charming? Where is my happily ever after?
How “The Disney Effect” Has Ruined Your Ability To Find The Work And Relationship You Love (AKA Passion)
This becomes even more obvious with the amount of people who are lost, searching for ‘their passion’ in work and in relationships.
Do you know why most people haven’t discovered their passion yet?
Because they’re not willing to feel pain. They’re not willing to feel the burden. They’re not willing to bleed for the sake of their craft. They’re not willing to suffer through the heartbreak of loving someone so deeply.
We have a model of reality that believes, “My passion should be easy and fun and blissful. Everyone should win. I should get everything I desire.”
This is the same reason why people are screwed up in relationships. They spend their whole relationship thinking things should be perfect and easy. The moment conflict hits, they question everything, “is this REALLY the person I want to be with?” “Is this REALLY the path I’m choosing? Is this REALLY what I wanted?”
One ounce of conflict, challenge or hardship and everything comes into question. There’s no commitment. There’s no willingness to suffer.
When I first started dating Libby, every time we had conflict come up, I wanted to run. I thought conflict was wrong. Unnatural.
But the truth is… I was just scared. I was scared of the intimacy. I was scared of being hurt. I was scared of making the wrong decision.
If I wouldn’t have endured the challenge, we wouldn’t have a relationship that’s deeply fulfilling (on most days.)
Why The Root Of All Passion Is Suffering
The same pattern often happens with passion. When it gets hard, we give up. We move onto the next thing. The next business idea. The next woman. The next shiny object.
And we are robbed of the depth we crave because some experiences can only be accessed by committing fully to someone or something.
With commitment, comes suffering. And suffering is the root of all passion.
Look up the origins of of the word “passion.” You’ll quickly find it means “to suffer, to hurt, to endure.”
But we don’t trust the suffering, the hurt or the struggle because we have an imprint of fairy tales for what ‘reality’ should be like. Essentially, we think we should all be living as “happily ever after.”
In “happily ever after” land, there is no conflict. No challenge. No hardship.
When you expect happily ever after and you are faced with reality, you end up with one of two questions:
1) Something is wrong with the world / the other person / the career choice, etc.
2) Something is wrong with me.
And that creates some sort of shame spiral that leaves most people incapacitated to act.
We oscillate between not feeling good enough internally because of our lack of accomplishment. And between blaming our outside circumstances for not giving us what we want.
The truth of the matter is: you’re disillusioned by living in a fantasy world that is actually clouding you from seeing the beauty of reality.
If you actually want to be happy… if you want to pursue something you’re passionate about… if you want to be madly in love… stop pretending it should be easy. Stop questioning it every time it gets hard. Stop bouncing from idea to idea.
Deepen your commitment. Expand your capacity for suffering. And watch everything in your life grow because of it.
What if there is no happily ever after? There’s just… now. And the experience you’re having in this moment.
Feel into the burden and pain of having something you care deeply about.
This is the way out. The only way out.
And, ironically, this is the only path to creating any sort of life that resembles “happily ever after.”
Which more accurately looks like “happy-ish, sometimes. But grateful to be alive.”