Winnie the Pooh’s Guide to a Happier Life

by Henrik Edberg

”Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?”

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best — ” and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

Winnie the Pooh is a very nice bear. He has always seemed like a pretty happy bear to me.

So here are a few of my favorite happiness tips from that honey loving bear.

Don’t get bogged down in details.

“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 count.”

Getting bogged down in details, focusing on the small problems can have advantages. But it can also make you miss the big picture. What’s really important in your life.

Don’t make the classic mistakes of spending too much time nitpicking or making mountains out of molehills. Relax instead. Focus on the positive things you have and want in your life.

Focus on that. Work towards that. The days may seem long but the years are often pretty short. So live them instead constantly watching, inspecting, criticizing or overthinking them.

Be proactive. Take the lead.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

It’s easy to get locked into a reactive mindset. You just follow along with whatever is happening. You do what the people around you do. You react to whatever is going on.

And so you get lost in your circumstances. This way of thinking doesn’t feel too good. You tend to feel powerless and like you are just drifting along.

A more useful and pleasurable way of living is to be proactive. This feels better and provides better results. But on the other hand it’s also more difficult. It’s easier to just drift along in the reactive stream of life. And if you want to be proactive then you may have to take the lead quite often. You have to get out of your comfort zone. And that can be scary.

Still, living proactively is so much more rewarding and exciting.

Keep conversations positive and simple.

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?””

What do people want in a conversations and relationships of all kinds?

Longwinded negative babbling?
Or positive talks that are focused and where it is interesting to listen and exchange ideas?

Although the answer is probably both, I rather spend most of my time doing the latter. Three tips that help me to keep the conversation positive and focused are:

  1. Live a positive life. If you focus on the positive in your daily life then it’s usually no problem to keep focusing on it and talking about it in conversations.
  2. Be aware and alert. If you know that you have a problem with excessive, negative ramblings then that awareness can help you to stop yourself more and more often before you go off on a rant. Or even before you pick a negative conversational path.
  3. Focus on the other people. If you focus too much on yourself then it’s easy to get lost in your own awesome thoughts and words and forget that you are having a conversation. It also makes it easy to get lost in your problems and make them bigger than they are. If you instead focus more outwards on the people you are talking too it becomes easier to see how the conversation is going and to keep it balanced.

Do nothing once in a while.

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

Although it feels good to work towards you goals and doing the things you love I find that things go better and I feel better if there is balance. If I just take some time each week to do pretty much nothing. If I just spend time with myself on a solitary walk for example while listening to the birds.

It may sounds slightly cheesy but if you don’t unload your mind and just relax and do nothing sometimes then life tend to get more burdensome and difficult than it needs to be.

Exercise.

“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.”

A very obvious tip. But it is one of the most effective ones to live a healthier, more energetic and happier life.
I think that one of the most important factors for getting regular exercise is simply to find something that you like. Something that fits you.
It did for example take me quite some time of trying different ways to do cardio exercise (running, bicycling etc.) before I found body weight exercises.

Experiment and find what works for you and what fits your personality. This will make it a lot easier to stick to your positive change and develop a relaxed consistency where you are enjoying yourself.

Appreciate the little things.

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon”

Daily happiness is to a large part about appreciating the small things. If you just allow yourself to be happy when accomplishing a big goal or when having some great luck then you are making life harder than it needs to be.
Instead, focus on appreciating things that you may take for granted.

Take two minutes and find things in your life you can appreciate now. If you want a few suggestions, here are a few of the things that I like to appreciate:

  • My food.
  • The weather.
  • My health.
  • Friends and family.
  • This blog and the opportunity to write about what I want.
  • You, the reader.
  • Myself and the fine things about me.

The funny thing is that if you just start appreciating something you can very quickly start jumping around with your attention and appreciate just about anything around you. You may start with the food you are eating right now. Then move your attention to the phone and appreciate that you can contact anyone – and be contacted by anyone – you’d like. You might then move your attention outside, through the window and see the wonderful sunshine, then kids having fun with a football and then a really attractive person walking by. And so on.

Or you can take a couple of minutes each night and write down 5 things you are grateful for in a journal.

Doing any of these two exercises will over time make it easier to naturally in everyday situations be more appreciative and grateful for your life.

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{ 25 comments }

Nicole Bandes April 19, 2010 at 4:33 pm

I think “The Tao of Pooh” was one of the first personal development books I read and one of the few I have hung on to despite several moves in the 20 or so years since reading it. Great inspiration and reminders in such a simple philosophy!

Laura April 19, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Thank you! I always enjoy reading your blogs and love the pooh connection!

Petteri, Happiness Hunters April 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm

I like the part of appreciating little things in life. I just stretched it a little bit and wrote a list of 100 reasons to be happy right now a few days ago. It sounds impossible but it isn’t :). People should stop more often to just think about the things that are good in life for a few minutes. It is too easy to focus on the negative side of everything, and forget how great it is just to be alive and be able to do anything you could ever imagine, today.

rob white April 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Hi Enrik,
Very well done and thorough. Who would have thought Winnie the Pooh was so profound. Regarding conversations, one thing I like to tell people: If you want to be interesting, be INTERESTED. That is, be sincerely interested in other peoples lives and ask questions about them. It never fails; when you walk away from a conversation the person will say, “wow, he is so interesting.” Yet, I have not talked about myself at all.

Prasanna April 19, 2010 at 11:21 pm

It’s been two years I am enjoying your blog post.
I must say your post just simple super.
It is very good reminder for my day to day life
for good. This post is another sample to it.

Josten April 20, 2010 at 1:06 am

Pretty amazing stuff from winnie i must say. Doing nothing is something i haven’t did in awhile. But thank goodness i took the time to do so today.
Great post

Ashley April 20, 2010 at 2:17 am

What an adorable blog post! Who knew you could get such great advice from a cartoon?

Jen Gresham April 20, 2010 at 2:40 am

Ah, the art of doing nothing! For a long time, this was an impossible idea for me. It wasn’t until I met my husband and he said, “Why do you always feel like you have to be accomplishing something? Relax!” that I finally felt freed. But that didn’t mean it was easy. I just replaced doing productive things with unproductive things, like playing video games. After about a year of that, I discovered it wasn’t very satisfying.

Now I realize it’s okay if my nothingness is short and occasional. In fact, it’s all okay, as long as I’m happy. :)

Nice post! Consider it stumbled…
Jen

Megan Zuniga April 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

Winnie the Pooh! A lot of kids from our church loves him(or her, I could never quite tell). I love his simple life and it makes me envious and wish that I was a child again where things were just simple.
I could totally relate to your 4th point with doing nothing. Sometimes, we get overwhelmed. We keep moving forward…keep reaching for our goals. We forget to stop and take a breather. It reminded me of this http://sn.im/vlvxi and how it says that we should take a rest because it’s good for our mind and our body. It tells the importance of complete rest–total emptying of the mind. It’s a tricky thing to do when you have 50 million different things going through your head. But I believe it will make a big difference in your everyday life.

Iona April 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Hi there, my first time of commenting having enjoyed a subscription to your blog for some time, so time for me to say thank you for all your ideas and creativity, and for being generous with your tips in encouraging others to be the best they can be and to go for it with their own projects!
Have you read the Taoh of Pooh? Pretty good.
I posted on you today:
http://iheartnaturalbeauty.blogspot.com/2010/04/poohs-guide.html
Thanks again. Iona

Topi April 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I’m a huge Winnie the Pooh fan, and I love this post!
My favourite coffee mug has a picture of Pooh and the words “Pooh could see the whole world spread out until it reached the sky.” It always reminds me to think about the big picture. Who knew a bear could be so wise…
Topi ;)

Lauren - OfficeArrow April 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Winnie the Pooh’s way of thinking reminds us to keep things simple. It’s similar to the way a child thinks. Trusting others easily, seeing the fun and beauty in everything, etc. I try to live that way these days because of a recent dark period in my life. If you stay positive and appreciate what you have, you will see everything the world has to offer. I think to be truly happy, you must first be happy with yourself. Thanks Henrik!

Rich April 20, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Thanks Henrik – I never read any Pooh when I was younger, so didn’t really appreciate the wisdom until this post. You have just lightened up my afternoon!

Rich

Barrie Davenport April 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Enrik,
I can “bearly” contain my joy at this simply sweet or sweetly simple post. Who wouldn’t take advice from a chubby little bear who wears a shirt and no pants. Now you need to do a post on the advice from Tigger. What can you make from Tigger’s song lyrics? Maybe a post on how to be happy!

The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is
I’m the only one.

Thanks for the fun Pooh post!
Barrie

Joshua Noerr April 21, 2010 at 4:07 am

Is it not interesting how profound some of the simplest things from childhood can truly be? Pooh teaches kids a lot of great lessons which we don’t realize are great until, for some, it is too late. Another great kid’s story is The Little Engine That Could. A timeless lesson indeed. Great article!

musically_free April 21, 2010 at 6:00 am

Really loved this…I’m young but I’m at a point where I’m ready to change for the better and have a better outlook. This site has really helped me start to make some positive changes. Thank You! ^_^

Stefanie April 22, 2010 at 1:06 am

And this post also proves another good point as the previous posters can attest–think like a child sometimes, look at the world through a child’s eyes. It weeds out the muck and lets shiny happy things push through. Great post, sir!

Nea | Self Improvement Saga April 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Winnie the Pooh is an amazing character. I really enjoyed your references to the awesome little life lessons that we can learn from him. Thanks for the light-hearted, fun, inspiring post.

Chris Akins April 23, 2010 at 4:24 am

Pooh was my childhood favorite. The lessons of humility, friendship, and leading a simple life are great for kids.

Chris

Henrik Edberg April 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Thank you for all the comments and extra insights! :)

Susan Liddy April 24, 2010 at 8:04 pm

This is great!
Found myself smiling as I was reading.
In fact, I still am.

:) Susan

Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com April 28, 2010 at 10:05 am

Keep conversations positive and simple. I love this one. I talk too much sometimes when letting them talk and listening more would do.

mel mccallum April 30, 2010 at 11:10 pm

i loved this one so much, how well that focusing on the little good things works,yet so simple,a great reminder not to be bogged down taking everthing too seriously,looking at happy birds out my window,and off for a delicious coffee,yes there is so much simple happiness when you purposely do that ,thank you very much,going to print this one out !!

Raj@ The Positive Life May 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Great people can find inspiration even from the smallest of things.

I had not imagined someone using example of winnie the pooh for a happier life.

Kudos to you buddy, It feels great visiting your blog again and again :)

Keep up the good work!!

K May 24, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Love this article. Just found your blog and finding it fascinating. You answer every question I have. Love Winnie the Pooh and it takes me back to my childhood and a specific book I had. Happy memories :) thanks

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