By Teresa Carale, MHI President

Frozen, which won the Best Animated Feature film award at both the Oscar and Golden Globe, was certainly an enjoyable respite from the prolonged winter chill. In the movie, Elsa, princess of Arendelle, lives in fear and has isolated herself, trying to suppress her growing power to create ice and snow, which nearly killed her younger sister Anna. Yes, it is a movie for children. But adults should heed some of the messages the movie delivers, one of which is: that isolation is never a good response to threats or fear.

Aside from the purely pragmatic perspective of the world being so interconnected through social communications, trade, finance, etc., making isolation practically impossible, resorting to isolation from others does not make sense. It is true that relationships, which involve opening up to another or several persons (family, friends, business partners), bring a certain level of vulnerability. One can get hurt when one opens up to another. But it is a risk that a person simply has to take in order to survive, and ultimately, to be happy. Success in any endeavor hinges heavily on relationships that are built and cultivated—building teams of individuals whose talents complement each other, finding friends who are not afraid of offering different perspectives on an issue, growing in wisdom and understanding from contrary opinions from family members and others. The most enduring and successful relationships are those which involve mutual giving and a shared long-term vision of the future, resulting in the individuals’ fulfillment and happiness.

We learned a lot from the seminar “Self-Image and Purpose” that Kim Millman gave in January. Self-image could refer to how one sees herself, but often it refers to how she perceives others see her. A negative self-image can push a person towards isolation, a black hole of sorts that is almost impossible to escape. On the other hand, a positive self-image gives a person tremendous potential to do good. One is better able to be a protagonist in making the world a better place if one is aware of and comfortable with her talents, capabilities, and yes, her limitations. It is precisely the awareness of these talents and limitations that opens her up to relationships—others can supply what she does not have, and together, they can do so much.

At the end of the movie Frozen, Elsa abandons her self-imposed isolation and opens herself up to a relationship with her sister. Furthermore, she promises Anna she will never shut the castle gates again, being open to everyone. And they all lived happily ever after. May this become true for us as well.