Or what Eeyore can teach us about life, love, and choosing happiness.
I’m a recovering pessimist. A perennial one. I know it’s a striking confession given the nature of my site. But in a paradoxical way, pessimism’s been great fuel for personal growth. Pitiful dwellings on life’s miseries launch me into striving for the best possible world.
Perhaps the greatest of pessimists: Eeyore. The thistle eating donkey from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.
There’s something poignantly oxymoronic about Eeyore — that such laughter and joy can come from a gloomy character.
In the same way being poor teaches us to appreciate wealth, having our hearts broken teaches us to love faithfully, struggle and failure magnifies our victories — Eeyore’s melancholy in a subtle way highlights the joys in life.
Here are seven classic lines and lessons for a beautiful life from Eeyore:
“Thanks for noticing me.”
It’s what we all want. Beyond our physical needs, the existential cry for acknowledgment underlies everything we do.
To be noticed, to be love, to be validated.
One of Eeyore’s favorite lines highlights the power in simply acknowledging someone’s presence. Appreciating the uniqueness of their character, the serendipity that allows friends to share the same space and time. Every relationship is made up of chance occurrences which deserve some marveling.
And when silence is no longer awkward in any relationship — it’s a beautiful experience of “noticing” one another that should be celebrated.
“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”
We’ve all blown things out of proportion before. Our problems will expand to fill the mental space we give it, and often, we give far too much.
Psychologists call it Catastrophic Thinking, defaulting to worst case scenarios — we think getting pulled over means a night in jail. Fear is a powerful mechanism, and if untamed, it knows no boundaries.
Eeyore knows the key — the word “However” causes a mental reappraisal, a mindfulness that allows for a more rational evaluation. And actually, thinking the worst case scenario, allows us to realize how unjustified and unrealistic we’re being.
“A tail isn’t a tail to them, it’s just a little bit extra at the back.”
Not everyone will understand you, and that’s okay. We celebrate freedom of speech, but often get bent out of shape when someone expresses an opposing view.
Just like you can take a horse to water but not make it drink, there’s no point going blue in the face telling someone it’s a tail if all they see is “extra at the back.”
“To the uneducated an A is just three sticks.”
Ignorance is bliss — for those who are ignorant about bliss. Eeyore must have read some Socrates, who said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Knowledge has the power to expand our human experience. To learn any language is to open up to literally a whole new world. To learn any skill increases your self-confidence, and ability to add value to someone else’s life.
Give yourself the gift of seeing more than just sticks; challenge yourself to learn one new thing each day.
“They’re funny things, accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.”
To live life in bubble wrap may prevent us from ever getting hurt, but it’ll certainly prevent us from ever experiencing a meaningful life.
So while we can do our best to be wise and cautious, ultimately our best is the best we can do. Accidents are indiscriminate — to try and live in prediction of them is paralyzing.
“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference. Or so the say.”
Our survival mechanism means we possess an inherent selfishness. Babies will learn “mine!” as quickly as “mumma” or “daddy.”
As inherent are acts of selfishness, so too is the desire for selflessness — we’ve said it a thousand times: “It’s better to give than receive.” But kindness takes a little more effort than we’d like to admit; taking action to bridge the gap between desire and act can be an internal battle. But the possibility of making someone’s day, and even their life through what we can give should be good motivation. Even if the difference goes unnoticed.
“We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”
It’s like being an introvert in a culture that preaches extroversion. Thankfully there’s more balance nowadays with introversion seen less as an issue to fix and more of a celebration.
But with any majority view or “cultural norm,” there’s a always the temptation to feel as though there’s something wrong with you if you don’t fit into the neat cookie cutter.
Simple, yet profound words from Eeyore: “We can’t all, and some of us don’t.” There’s beauty in being different. Cookie cutters are meant for cookies, not life.
For more of Thai’s musings, and to sign up for his weekly infographics visit: The Utopian Life.
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Originally published: Huffington Post
Photo: JD Hancock/Flickr