Trolls. Yup, this post is about Trolls.

Depending on your perspective (and perhaps your age) the word “troll” brings to mind ugly, horrifying monsters, or cute, funny little dolls. For those under the age of 12 (or their parents), you’re probably thinking about the movie released last year.

That’s the one! It’s the movie I’m going to talk about here so be warned: there are spoilers ahead.

Still here? Great, then let’s see what we can learn from some troll doll inspired movie characters.

You will never be happy, unless…

In the movie, the Bergens (basically ugly folklore inspired ogres I think) are miserable. They are only happy one day a year when they can eat the joy-filled trolls. When that day doesn’t work out like they planned, the youngest troll-eating virgin – a prince no-less – is told he will never be happy because he will never eat a troll.

Being young, he believes it when he’s told his fate. Everyone in the village also believes they will never be happy again because there are no trolls to eat.  So, unless they do this very specific thing, they can never find or feel happiness.

Meanwhile, the trolls are having a blast

Next, we meet the troll doll characters the movie is named after. They party all-the-time. Since escaping the Bergens, they've become immersed in their happiness. The sing about everything and strive to have bigger, louder celebrations. Despite warnings from the only unhappy troll around, they continue to party while living in denial the Bergens will find and eat them.

You can guess what happens next. The trolls are discovered and almost all of them are taken back to the Bergen village where they will be eaten. Unless, of course, they are rescued.

When the two meet

Eventually, the perpetually happy troll leader, Poppy, and her always unhappy troll escort, Branch find their friends in the Bergen castle. In order to free them, they befriend a Bergen maid, Bridget, who is inherently gentle and nice. But not only is she unhappy (because she's a Bergen and hasn't had a troll to eat), she's in love with the King and depressed because he would never pay attention to a lowly maid.

The Trolls help her get the King's attention (who happens to be the aforementioned prince). Bridget and the King go on a date together and have a good time. But they don't realize it. Not really anyway, because they expect to be miserable.

I've already spent more time on the plot than I intended, so I'll wrap up the rest of the story. This is actually the most important part.

Before the trolls can be eaten, they reveal to the king that the girl he fell for was indeed the castle maid. They point out that how he feels when he's with her is happy. It takes a little explaining but he finally realizes that he did feel happy, he just didn't know what that was because he was told he never would. After that, everyone lives happily ever after (well except the bad guys).

No magic needed

If you've stuck with me this long, you probably already know one of the lessons the film offers: there is no magic "thing" you need to be happy. It comes from within, your actions, and those that you love.

We all make the mistake of counting on something, or someone, to make us happy. The right job, mate, money, house, car – whatever it might be for you. But you don't need those things to be happy. Look around at what you have now and you'll likely find you have plenty of reasons to be happy.

Do you know how you feel?

Another lesson from the film is that external circumstances don't have to determine our mood, or happiness. In a scene I didn't mention previously, Poppy gives up. All the Trolls have been caught and are about to be eaten. She loses her color and the rest of the trolls turn grey in response to their leader giving up. Fear and frustration push her to the point where she just can't see the happiness anymore.

That's another situation we all probably can relate to. Bad things happen, and when they do, most of us react badly too. Well, perhaps badly isn't the right word. We can feel defeated, depressed, or withdrawn.

In those cases, we are letting circumstances dictate how we feel. In the movie, Poppy had Branch to sing her a song which brought her out of her sadness. But you don't need someone to sing to you to change how you feel. It probably wouldn't hurt though – especially if they sang like Justin Timberlake in the movie.

When circumstances are the reason for not being happy, you need to realize it's not really the circumstances at all. It's how you're looking at them. Perspective is everything. But it's often hard to get that perspective when you're in the midst of something bad.

An oft-quoted saying is to "find the silver lining". That's one approach, but there are others. Nothing will work though, until you're able to recognize how you feel and why you are feeling that way. Once you find that awareness you can start to change your perspective.

If you're interested in seeing a funny light-hearted movie that will keep you tapping your feet, you should give Trolls a try. There's a lot in there for adults, so don't think you need kids to see it. It's out on DVD, rentable from Redbox or on just about every streaming or cable service.

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