What Would Winnie the Pooh (and Other People) Do?

by Henrik Edberg



“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
Anthony Robbins

Your mind like answers. It seems like whatever you ask it, it will find answers for.

So it becomes very important to ask yourself the right questions. Questions that will help you out rather than just make you feel more miserable and helpless.

Questions like: “What’s awesome about this?” and “Will this matter 5 years from now?”

Another favourite goes something like this: “What would X do?” X being whoever inspiring figure you want it to be. It’s a great way to shift perspective in a situation and find a more useful frame of mind.

For example, the non-conformist and rebel might ask: “What would Tyler Durden do?” Me, I like Winnie the Pooh.

What would Winnie the Pooh do?

Let’s say I feel closed up, tense and kinda whiny. It’s not a helpful frame of mind.

Let’s think about Winnie the Pooh for a minute. He is warm and open. Relaxed. Centred. He doesn’t cling to the past or the future but is happy to live in the now. In fact, it doesn’t seem like he’s thinking that much at all.

Now, this might seem like a sorta stupid bear. But that’s mostly coming from a perspective where someone is a bit too identified with their own smartness. It’s often better to not think so much and let thoughts and actions naturally arise within you – much like a tennis player out on the court – if you want to get things done and be happy.

Now, back to me. As I feel like a not so good version of myself I often still remember that I can turn that around. Like everything else, it’s just temporary.

So I ask myself: “What would Winnie the Pooh do?”

That focuses my mind on all the positive things I associate with honey loving bear. And so I start to think different things. My mind comes up with more helpful answers. Asking yourself a question like this one is a way to activate and remember the “better parts” of yourself. To snap yourself out of an unproductive and negative emotional state and frame of mind.

I find this question to be especially helpful in social situations.

On side note, many of the common and less productive emotional states and frames of mind can be found in the Hundred Acre Woods. Rabbit is very identified with his mind and thinks he’s very smart. He’s a bit of an overthinker. Piglet is very kind and seems to want to be brave. But he’s filled with self-doubt. And well, Ior, he’s just totally locked in into a negative frame of mind no matter what happens.

Now, here are few others of my favourite what would… people.

What would Jason Bourne do?

No, the Bourne frame of mind isn’t about putting your car in reverse and going off rooftops.

It is about putting a stop to thinking and allowing yourself to work with what you already know. As I said about Pooh, you allow the right action to arise from within rather than think a lot about it. You have trust in yourself and your experience.

This is what Jason Bourne does a lot of the time up on the movie/TV-screen. He does what he’s learned, he lets his body and subconscious do most of the doing. A lot of thinking would only hold him back.

Now, thinking has its place. But to be wrapped up in it all the time often leads to much doubts within and little actually getting done. The thing is, you know what to do most of the time already. Don’t put up obstacles in your own way.

I have been using this one for years now, it’s a very good question to become focused and to focus on the how rather than whys and doubts.

What would Eckhart Tolle do?

Eckhart Tolle is one of my favourite personal development writers.

He is very much about living in the present moment and having an accepting frame of mind.

I have found that this question is most helpful when you feel angry and frustrated. Or getting your mind stuck in past or future scenarios. Or when you have a lot of conflict within, when you are dividing up the world and feel like you are right and someone else is wrong.

Asking that question can help me to flip the perspective around to a more useful one a lot of the time. And when that doesn’t work, listening to one of his audiobooks for 10 minutes usually does the trick. Emotions are contagious. Even stillness within.

To learn more about his views on things and be able to use this question, I recommend the audioversion of the book Stillness Speaks. It’s a short book that quickly gets to the point.

If you found this article helpful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and Stumbleupon. Thank you very much! =)




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{ 25 comments }

Ahmed October 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Awesome spin on the article although my favorite part had to be the Anthony Robbins quote:

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”

Graeme October 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm

I just did a very interesting exercise, where I went back and forth among a few people, like you just mentioned, and kind of came out of the experience with the best feelings of all of those personalities. It’s as if when you experience an emotion, like tension or fear, something like that, and then right afterwards experience an open feeling like courage, the open feeling eats up the closed feeling.

Sandra Lee October 14, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Henrik, This is such a playful yet practical post. I really like this question: “Will this matter 5 years from now?” At the same time, finding yourself a fun, playful character to imitate is delightful. Just the thought of it lifts your spirits. Listening to an audio teaching is also a sure fire way to shift your mood, I have found too.

Thanks for the lift up!

Derek October 14, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Some excellent examples of putting yourself into another frame of reference. It reminds me of The Tao of Pooh, a great book that you’ve probably read already, but I would also recommend it to anyone who reads these comments.

Henrik Edberg October 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

Fine recommendation, that was one of the first books I read many years ago about the things I talk about here on the website. I also remember enjoying the Te of Piglet by the same author (Benjamin Hoff).

Ryan Biddulph October 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

You’ve provided a super helpful practice here Henrik. Shift your attention to another person – real, or in prose – who might handle the situation effortlessly. We each have strengths and weaknesses and imagining how others handle your difficulties is an awesome channeling tool.

Ryan

Janet October 14, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Hi Henrik, this is a great trick to get out of one’s own head! Love your examples too.

Can we play along?

What would Blackadder do? Maybe you need a little cunning in your plan (plus a crazy, off-the-wall plan).

What would Anne of Green Gables do? Maybe you need a little scope for the imagination.

Adam Sicinski October 14, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Very clever Henrik. I think that everyone can have a lot of fun with this. It definitely encourages solution oriented thinking and adds a little fun and excitement into the problem solving process :)

Ryan Niessen October 16, 2010 at 3:34 am

Great perspective on gaining different perspectives! I like the lightness and fun of the idea of thinking about life from Winnie the Pooh’s point of view, we all could learn a lot from that loveable bear!

Ryan

Nikki October 16, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Thanks for writing this. I read this as I sat in a cafe silently crying over a recent break-up. And I ask myself, “What would Grandma do?” And things have never been more clear. Because she would cry today, and get up tomorrow and continue building her life.

Dennis Rose October 17, 2010 at 1:11 am

Great post! I like the Jason Bourne analogy. I think we all operate on auto-pilot every now and then. In many cases, we perform better when we can go through the motions without thinking about it. As it relates to positivity, the world would be a better place if we could all take more positive actions without having to put much thought into it. It’s a shame that we get bombarded with so much negativity all the time. Thankfully, there are more people like us out here trying to make a difference.

Take Care!

Mike S. October 17, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Henrik,

Do you find that you ask yourself the three questions, what would Winnie the Pooh do? what would Jason Bourne do? and What would Eckhart Tolle do? in your life often? =)

I found your article to be quite insightful, thank you for taking the time to write it up! I feel that its good to have heroes/role models to look up to and reflect upon them, which it seems to be what you’ve done here. As always, I look forward to all your future articles!

- Mike

Henrik Edberg October 19, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for the kind words! Yep, I use the Bourne one several times each week and the other two a little less.

Becca October 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

I’m a psychotherapist, and one of my depressed clients once told me that Doctor Who was more helpful than I was. So I watched all of the Doctor Who seasons and I get it entirely. Took me a while, but absolutely.

What would Doctor Who do?

Create My Mind Movie October 19, 2010 at 7:03 am

This is a fabulous post and a creative spin on how we perceive things. Tony Robbins also talks about people living their life by one question they ask themselves. And the quality of this one question can determine the quality of your life.

For example, imagine a person’s primary question in life is “why am I always not enough?” Can you imagine what kind of filter they will be seeing their world through? It would be a world where “no matter what I do, its not enough”, it would be full of fear of abandonment and so on.

Alternatively imagine if a person’s primary question is “what can I learn from this?” What a difference this makes. There life is not about experiencing right or wrong things, but taking the lessons of life and growing from in a positive way.

So yes, role playing and asking from another perspective is important, but its also important to identify “what your primary question in life is”, because that can really change your life.

Great post. Thankyou =)

Roman Soluk October 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Very interesting post! I read it with great enjoyment. I like your comparisons and they way you explain things, Henrik! Thanks a lot for sharing this now!

Kim October 19, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Hey what a nice way to humor up the serious thinking which is most of the time useless and unproductive . By only thinking about Wini The Poo one feels good ! Why not become like him ! lol !

Henrik Edberg October 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Thank you all for adding your own insights and variations of this question. :)

maryawrites October 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

My biggest issue is staying in the moment, paying attention and becoming more mindful. Thats why I think I should be asking myself the Tolle question. Too bad I couldn’t get into his book, I had such high hopes but nope. Still can still look up to him for inspiration. :)

Lauren October 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm

For me, the relevant question is definitely “What Would Winnie Pooh Do?” I have such a hard time letting go and keeping an open mind rather than thinking I have to drive the outcome of everything. Take a breath. Open your eyes. Open your mind. Words for me to live by.

Gabriel October 26, 2010 at 4:12 am

Indeed, less thinking and more action. I found most of my most successful projects have been when I wasn’t really thinking about them but they just unexpectedly came to my mind, when I was so engrossed in what I was doing. This almost never happens when I’m trying to force myself to think of great ideas. The subconscious is always at work coming up with answers when we’re not realizing it.

legolas October 26, 2010 at 10:57 am

Hi Henrik,

I agree with what you have said about asking the correct questions.

Recently I stumbled across one site..

http://thoughtquestions.com

Hope this will be helpful…

N Thank you so much for writing such a beautiful article.

Erin October 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I love your take and insight on Winnie the Pooh. I’ve always thought that the Pooh tales had so much insight into human behavior. And they always made me want to be a better, kinder person. There are many great new children’s books but I don’t think any of them have the depth of Pooh.

Sandra November 5, 2010 at 2:00 am

Hi,

I love this article! I thought I was the only one going around asking myself this question. But when I find myself getting off-track with situations and people in general, I have to ask myself what would Jesus do? It works for me! Thanks for the article.

Sandra

Barbera Ragsdale November 26, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Love your site man keep up the good work

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