Insights: Lessons from Winnie the Pooh

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There is nothing like four days in the hospital to make you reflect on life.  Life as we know it tends to stop and our attention is brought directly into the moment: our health, our emotions, our relationships.

That is what happened to me over the past week. Not what I thought I would be doing, so all those plans I had were quickly changed.

As I lay there with my left arm in a cast from a broken wrist and my right arm with the IV in it, I really could not go anywhere, or do anything, without assistance.

Feeling sorry for myself, I was quickly reminded that my woes were going to be short lived, while others were not so lucky as myself.

Out my window I could see children play who were on IV’s, most looked like they had more serious issues going on.

In the room a few doors down, someone passed and the sounds of cries of grief were clear.

This left me reflecting on how did I get here?

The last year and a half has been medically difficult. Even though I am in very good health, my body has been through some challenges. Because of that, I felt sad, anger, resentful, frustration, contemplative, and finally some acceptance.

Acceptance does not mean I like what has happened, or that I cannot make some changes to make things better. It just means I stop resisting what is.  When we resist what is, that’s what I call protest behavior. When we protest what is, we tend to make what ever we are experiencing even more painful.

It took me many years to truly understand the quote by Buddha that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”

We add to the pain by what we say to ourselves in our minds. Even when I understood this quote, there was part of me that did not want to give up the suffering. In my mind I felt entitled to suffer. I had a right to suffer.

I would think to myself, “look what happened to me, I deserve to have my suffering.”

I was causing myself so much more pain, but for what reason? To have the right to feel sorry for myself?

It is okay to feel sorry for ourselves. Life can be difficult—really difficult at times. The key is to not get stuck there. Feel your feelings, grieve your losses, get mad. Then allow it to be what it is. Pick up the pieces, take ownership and set new goals.

I saw the movie “Christopher Robin” this past weekend. I did not realize how wise Pooh could be at times. I felt it was a well-timed movie for me.  Winnie the Pooh said a few things that made me think, and helped me get out of my own way.

I will share some of those thoughts in a moment, but first I want to share something about the characters.

I believe we can all relate to each of the characters in our own way. We can get stuck in the negative like Eeyore, or have tons and energy and excitement like Tigger, or have fear and anxiety like Piglet, or struggle to get our words right like Owl.

What I liked about Pooh was that even in his cluelessness at times, he always had his priority right and that was his relationships.

There was a wonderful part in the movie where Pooh sees Christopher Robin as an adult for the first time and Christopher is surprised how he recognized him. Pooh responded “because I see you” and then pointing to the inside of Christopher. If only we all focused our energy towards people in this way.

Let me leave you with some wonderful quotes from Winnie the Pooh to hold when life is good and when life has its bumps along the way.

“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.”

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

“Love isn’t what you say. Love is what you do.”

“Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imaged.”

“When life throws you a rainy day, play in the puddles.”

“A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

My favorite quote is “What day is it? It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.

Today is my favorite day. What shall I make of it?

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].



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