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Friendly advice: This article contains spoilers that are going to be revealed shortly. Watching or recalling the storyline before reading the article is highly recommended.
Everyone wants happiness. Every day, we are occupied with a lot of tasks—family, work, and even personal goals—which we try to do as much as we can, hoping that we will be happy. However, as we focus so much to finish all those never-ending activities, we sometimes forget how to intentionally seek happiness.
In the book titled The How of Happiness, the author Sonja Lyubomirsky mentioned that we can enhance our chances of being happy by applying some practical strategies. Sonja explained that sustainable happiness involves making permanent changes that require effort and dedication every day of our life.
As the continuation of my previous article about Moana, this article is going to discuss another movie, and my choice is Zootopia—By the way, Maria’s previous article also discusses the movie, read here! Recently announced to return in an animated TV series on Disney+, I choose Zootopia because one of the characters in the movie—Zootopia’s first rabbit police officer Judy Hopps—perfectly shows the fulfilling result of the effort in pursuing happiness.
Thus, how does Judy acquire more happiness in her life? Below are the happiness-increasing strategies—according to Sonja’s book—that Judy implemented in the movie we need to learn from!
1. Develop a strategy for coping
No life is without stress, adversity, or crisis. In the wake of challenges, many people become depressed, fearful, and even have trauma; unable to return to their usual self for a long time. As a very determined character, Judy shows one of the traits of becoming a happier person; sees some value in challenging life events and develops strategies for coping. According to Sonja, one of them is problem-focused.
Being problem-focused is to act on the situation and make a bad thing to go away. It is illustrated in the movie when Judy managed to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a police officer. Despite frequently being put down: by her neighborhood red fox Gideon Grey when she was young, her trainer when she was in the academy, and also by the Chief Bogo in the police department, Judy never let any prejudices stop her in committing to become a police officer, her real source of happiness.
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There are two wise words of Judy I want to highlight in this part. The first one is when Judy’s father Stu Hopps said it is almost impossible for a rabbit to become a police officer. Judy responded, "I like trying. If that’s the case then I guess I have to be the first one.” The second wise word is when Gideon doubted and hurt her. Out of all Gideon’s statements against her, Judy agreed with one sentence, “He was right about one thing. I don’t know when to quit."
2. Practice act of kindness
Investing in social relationships is a potent strategy on the path to becoming happier. Furthermore, an excellent way to improve our relationships is to practice kindness. Our kindness leads other people to like and appreciate us. People will reciprocate in our times of need and can help us satisfy a basic human need for connecting with others.
During her duty to find the missing river otter Emmitt Otterton, Judy made one of the best social connections without knowing; that saved her life. Accompanied by a con artist fox a.k.a soon-to-be Judy’s police officer partner Nick Wilde, Judy managed to track the crime scene and meet a crime boss, Mr. Big. Due to conflict between Mr. Big and Nick in the past, Judy and Nick were almost iced until Mr. Big’s daughter Fru Fru came and stopped her father as she befriended Judy after Judy had saved her life. Such good fortune!
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3. Learn to forgive
Forgiveness is a habit that will help us live a happier life. Not necessarily re-establishing a relationship, forgiveness involves suppressing or mitigating one’s motivations for avoidance and revenge then replacing them with more positive feelings. Forgiving indeed takes time, but it is worth it.
In Judy’s case, we can see the reason Judy managed to live a happy life—even after being underestimated so many times—was due to her healthy mindset, replacing negativity with benevolent attitudes and behaviors. For instance, when Judy knew her parents partnered with Gideon. Instead of feeling betrayed because of her past, she was happy to know that her parents are open-minded; worked with Gideon because of his skills. Moreover, Judy held no hard feelings towards Gideon when she met him.
Furthermore, Judy truly walked the walk as she stated, “The more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be.”
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By analyzing Judy’s character with some happiness-increasing strategies, we get to understand that happiness does not happen by the stroke of luck as it requires consistent and honest effort. The strategies mentioned above will slowly but surely make a difference in our happiness. It may be difficult at first, but it is not impossible. Just like what Judy said, “No one tells you what you can or can’t be. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.”
Therefore, let's start doing it and see how life gets better!