December Films for Tough Times

Good mental health is achieved by cultivating joy, even when it feels in short supply.  In a 2020 survey, happiness and well-being among Americans reached a 50-year low.  But it’s a deeper issue than just that. Joy is hardier and sturdier than mere happiness or positive circumstances, closer in meaning to contentment than amusement.  “Joy is both a gift and a practice,” writes Tish Harrison Warren.  “Joy is a muscle we can strengthen with exercise.”

The Mental Health Committee suggests deepening a joy-filled Christmas by viewing these films:

Toy Story 4 (2019) Woody, Buzz, and the gang join Bonnie on a road trip with her new craft project, a spork named Forky.  Pixar’s animation has humor and heart, which encourages all of us to find and express our purpose in life, even as we learn to cope with changing circumstances in life. (Streaming on Disney+)

Paddington Bear 2 (2018).The British stuffed toy becomes a member of a wacky London family.  Hugh Grant has his best performance as a show-tune-singing villain, whose nastiness crumbles under the kindness of Paddington Bear, who looks for the good in all of us, and somehow finds it. (Streaming on Max and Hulu)

Jesus instructs his disciples that our joy is more than a passive response, but rather a faithful response to the Lord alone: “Ask [in my name] and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:24)

Daily Prayer:  May I celebrate the birth of Jesus, rejoicing with all people and in all sorts of ways, in order to deepen my appreciation of God’s grace.