#49: 3 Things the Disney Movie “Encanto” Taught Me About Creative Living

It doesn’t matter how young or old we think we are — the movie Encanto has a thing or three to teach us all about creative living.*

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1. It’s okay to ask for help.

If you feel pressured to do great work every time and think you’re not allowed to fail or let alone rest, you might feel the masterpiece “Surface Pressure” deep in your bones.

Sung by the character named Luisa, it was the first song in the movie to summon my tears.

Luisa is the tough one in Madrigal family. Literally, because her gift was super strength. Her whole clan and town relied on her for both the minute and humongous tasks that keep their life together. On the outside, she was fine, but deep down, she was battling with pressure to perform. In her song, she confesses, “I’m pretty sure I’m worthless if I can’t be of service.”

But despite the gravity of her role, Luisa dared not let anyone know about her anxieties. And don’t we do this too? We keep our worries to ourselves, afraid to ask for help.

But our vulnerability isn’t a liability. It’s where beautifully raw creativity springs from.

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2. Our work doesn’t have to be perfect.

What is perfect anyway?

Another character named Isabella has an interesting gift: growing pretty flowers. Everyone around her expects nothing but breath-taking beauty. Her song “What Else Can I Do” is for every artist and creator who struggles with perfectionism and forgot to create for the sake of creating.

In the song she admits, “I’m so sick of pretty. I want something true, don’t you?”

She reminded me of the joy of creating, inspired by authenticity and emotions, not stifled by predictable and perfect pieces.

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3. Magic happens when we learn to work with what we have.

Disney set the movie to make the viewers believe Mirabel didn’t have a gift. And Mirabel thought so too.

She grappled with the fact that she alone in the family didn’t have a gift. She tried her best to not mind Luisa’s strength or Isabela’s pretty life, but she struggled and always wondered what she can do for her family and town.

She searched for and waited for a miracle.

But spoiler alert, magic happened when Mirabel stopped chasing the gift she never had — and got to work with what she had.

At the end of the movie, when their magical house was reduced to rubbles, Mirabel encouraged her family to rebuild it, not with their gifts but with one another.

When we feel like we don’t have the gift or talent for a creative work, let’s not dismiss our ideas and discredit ourselves too soon.

Let’s start with what we have first, and see what unfolds.

PS: My favorite definition of creative living is from Elizabeth Gilbert. She describes it as “a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

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