Thinking Like Winnie the Pooh
By Erin Ji In Lee
“But the most remarkable of all was a bear called Winnie the Pooh.” - Winnie the Pooh (1968)
My parents often told me that Walt Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” was the only film I made my family watch over and over again as a baby. Most of my childhood photos show a little me with a Winnie the Pooh stuffie in hand. Since I was very little, I have been a huge fan of this cuddly little bear.
Though Winnie the Pooh is my childhood hero, his words of wisdom seem more necessary to me now as a second year college student than ever before. I realized that there is so much more that I can learn from this seemingly childlike animation character than there was when I was a child. Here are some solutions to life’s many ups and downs which I found were much simpler than I ever realized after learning to think like Pooh.
Find happiness in the moment.
“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
In high school, my entire life was focused on getting into my dream college. I gave up sleep, hobbies and personal time for a better GPA and resume. Time was of the essence but every bit of time I had was put into studying and writing applications, leaving barely any quality time for friends and family. I placed happiness in the future. After the college application process was over, I thought that I could finally achieve the happiness I had worked so hard for. Yet it wasn’t long before I realized that I had so many more things to worry about in college - getting a decent GPA, declaring a major, making new friends, finding internships, and getting involved on campus.
Just as I had given up everything for college applications in high school, the next big goal I had to work towards in college was employment. It hit me that if I kept placing happiness in the future and gave up everything now for it, happiness would only become an abstract concept of a near time to come that I would never really end up achieving. For Pooh, his favorite day isn’t any special day - not a particular holiday, not even his birthday. Pooh calls “today” his favorite day. As our lives become busier, we need to remind ourselves to focus on being present. As Winnie the Pooh also said, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”
Don’t stress over the small things.
“You can’t help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn’t spell it right; but spelling isn’t everything. There are days when spelling TUESDAY simply doesn’t matter.”
Last week, I took a midterm exam for one of my prerequisite classes and did not end up doing as well as I expected. Reminding myself of how regularly I attended lectures and did homework as well as pulled all nighters for that class, I felt hopeless. The midterm was worth a significant portion of my grade and I was worried that this one exam would bring down my GPA no matter how hard I worked later on in the semester.
After the midterm, our professor said something that really drove home for me: “Remember that your performance on any one exam in any one class in any one semester in any one year is just that, one exam.” A few years from now, I probably won’t even remember what I received on this midterm. It is easy to get caught up on small things without realizing that we are doing so. When Pooh’s animal friends stress over who can and cannot spell the word “tuesday” correctly, Pooh reminds them that spelling is not everything and that things like this simply do not matter sometimes. Like Pooh, we sometimes need to remind ourselves to not sweat the small things.
Go get the things you want.
“You can’t always sit in your corner of the forest and wait for people to come to you… you have to go to them sometimes.”
After flying through my first year in college I recently felt myself falling into the sophomore slump. All throughout summer and currently at my first semester of sophomore year, I have been stressing about being unsure of what major to declare and consequently what type of internship and experiences I need for my future. My endless list of things to do – deciding on a major, declaring the major, and filling in my resume – pressures me more and more as the end of sophomore year comes closer.
Yet this quote from Winnie the Pooh reminded me that all I have been doing this past semester at school was worry. I failed to realized that all along I worried and stressed without taking definite action. Instead of actually signing myself up for introduction classes to various majors, I just sat in my room, stressed about still not knowing what I wanted to study. Instead of applying to different internships online, I complained about the mere thought of having to look for one.
Sometimes, the endless list of things to do may seem overwhelming to the point that it stresses you out before you even start trying to get it done. But when Winnie the Pooh ran out of his favorite honey, he didn’t just sit in his little house under the tree stressing about it and waiting for the honey to come to him. He used all of the tools around him to get to the honey in a beehive at the top of a very tall tree. Even though a scary swarm of bees did chase after him right away, the thought of bees did not stop him from doing all he could to get what he wanted. Pooh taught me that if I want something, the first thing to do is not to stress over it but to take definite action to go get it.
It’s quite simply actually: Don’t think too much - don’t stress over the small things. Live happily in the moment. If you want something, simply try your best and don’t stress over it not coming to you. What is common about all of these messages is that as obvious as they seem, they are easily forgotten amidst our busy and stressful lives. Sometimes it is important to take a step back. Let us remind ourselves of what is important in life by thinking like our favorite red t-shirt wearing yellow bear.
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