“’We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet.
‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”
I often think about the lovable characters from one of my favorites in children’s literature, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. As the mother of boys, I often read about Christopher Robin and his adventures with his favorite bear and their group of friends. Because Pooh Bear was one of my younger son’s favorites, we watched Pooh videos over and over again. Have you ever had a song get stuck in your head? Well, for me, I often had (and still do) the words from Pooh’s little exercise ditty, “Up down, touch the ground, puts me in the mood, for food.” Now Pooh is proud of his round tummy and loves to indulge and often over indulges in honey. And on one adventure, he even gets stuck in a doorway. I’ve never been happy with my weight, but still love to indulge in the foods that make my taste buds dance: pasta, steak, comfort foods, desserts, and ice cream. The list goes on and on. My weight has gone up and down over the years, and as a young adult, I dealt with eating issues and controlled my weight by not indulging; I ate like a bird. Then I learned to take a different approach by eating sensibly and exercising regularly, and I learned physical goals are not reached overnight, they take time. As Christopher Robin explained when Pooh got stuck in the door, “Then there’s only one thing to be done,” he said. “We shall have to wait for you to get thin again.” “How long does getting thin take?” asked Pooh anxiously. “About a week, I should think.” So, as to not get “stuck” like Pooh, we should do something each day toward airing out our physical room; we can start by making healthier choices and behavioral changes that lead to a positive self-image.
Whenever I feel any type of anxiety or begin to question my abilities, I am encouraged by Christopher Robins’ wise advice to Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” It’s important that we monitor our self-talk for negative thoughts and ideas and be prepared to rephrase them for positive influences on desired outcomes. We have about 35-48 thoughts per minute, with an estimated 50,000- 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of power behind what motivates us and leads to the outcomes of our lives. When I think about learning something new, designing a new project, or writing a new blog post, I often have to capture the thoughts that say, “You can’t do that,” or “You’ll be judged by what you do or don’t do.” I think about that and reframe my thoughts. I think about other times that I have been successful and have overcome obstacles and challenges; these are times that I’ve been braver, stronger, and smarter than I thought I was in that moment of negative thinking. It’s important to know the power behind all our thoughts because thoughts lead to actions. So if thoughts create our lives, think the good ones!
Eating well, exercising our bodies, and monitoring our thoughts are foundational to self-care and living a balanced life. It is also important to have quality time for oneself and a higher power. This can be done through meditation, prayer, and relaxation. A.A. Milne offers more advice, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Being still and listening for the God whispers may take some practice, but once you incorporate this practice into your life, you will reap the benefits. Meditation is a great practice and reinforces the skills we need to cope with adversities, conflicts, and confusion. Meditation helps create the balance we need to live a complete life as described in the Indian Proverb, A House With Four Rooms. Through meditation, we air out many rooms at one time. Meditation and prayer also allows us the opportunity to connect with a higher power. It’s important to me that my day begins and ends in prayer; I turn to prayer several times throughout my day. The prayer I say often is “Thank You, God.”
Connecting to others is important. Taking time to be with friends and family is valuable under positive and loving conditions. It is fun to take part in group activities that enrich our life experiences and provide love and support to our emotional health. Some of the activities we participate in may also help us air out several of our rooms. I know that when I meet others for a hike, game night, or dinner, I get the opportunity to air my rooms. I have been blessed to have people that have crossed my path and just by knowing them, my heart sings. Again from A. A. Milne, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbyes so hard.” Connecting to others and doing things we love, even our jobs, provides the excitement and desire to do it more…wow…magic!
Just as important to connecting to others, we must connect to ourselves. People may come and go in our lives, but we are always there, so it is important that we become our own friends…best friends. We need to practice self-care; this practice must become a ritual and be authentic. Becoming your own best friend will be the longest relationship you’ll ever have…fall in love with yourself. “‘How do you spell ‘love’?’ Piglet asked. Pooh responds, ‘You don’t spell it…you feel it.’” What should you be doing to connect with yourself? What must you do to feel love, know love, and be love? Do it…make it a practice by beginning with yourself and then reaching out to others.
It’s important to be yourself, and as leadership speaker Steve Maroboli says, “When you are living the best version of yourself, you inspire others to live the best versions of themselves.” And in Tigger’s words, “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/ IIII’m the only one!” We can learn a lot from Tigger, but the other characters also teach us. For example, Eeyore, the pessimistic depressed donkey that shares his gloomy insights with the rest of the characters. Eeyore has a laundry list of things that cause him grief, and he carries these from place to place as he mopes around. Eeyore is certainly a contrast to Tigger. I might not be “up” all the time like Tigger and I may have my Eeyore moments, but overall, I feel blessed that I’m excited about life and filled with gratitude. I also recognize that happiness is an “inside job” and we can choose how we respond to outside circumstances. So when I look at my day, I’d much rather be a Tigger than an Eeyore. “’What day is it?’ asked Pooh. ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.” This brings me to one last question: How about you…Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore?