The Wisdom Of 'Winnie The Pooh': How These Lessons Apply to Adult Life

The bear with very little brain has a lot to teach us.

The Wisdom Of 'Winnie The Pooh': How These Lessons Apply to Adult Life

Since he first came to life on the big screen in the 1966 featurette Winnie The Pooh And The Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and his friends have become some of the most beloved characters in the vast Disney library. Where many other characters from his era appear in a single film, Pooh Bear endures, with films and shows starring him still being produced to this day. Pooh is eternally innocent and childlike, constantly learning new things. As Pooh and his friends learn, so too do the children watching them.

The world of the Hundred-Acre Wood also introduces the children who enter it to some of life's most important lessons. These are lessons we can all stand to remember in our adult lives.

Too Much Of A Good Thing Can Be Bad

Pooh gets into a spot of trouble. Credit: Disney.

In Winnie The Pooh And The Honey Tree, which later became part of the feature-length The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, Pooh decides to invite himself over for lunch at Rabbit's House. While there, he massively over indulges in his favorite food—honey—but when he tries to leave, he ends up hopelessly stuck in Rabbit's front door. He is trapped there for quite a long time before digesting enough honey that his friends can pull him out. While the short ends humorously, with Pooh accidentally stuck in the tree from which he had earlier tried to steal honey, he does learn from the experience, as he is rarely seen eating more than one pot of honey at a time after this point.

For children, the lesson learned here is most likely something simple, like why they cannot eat things like ice cream and chocolate all the time, however the takeaway is just as big for adults. There have been many great technological advances in recent years, with things like smart phones and social media. Social media can be great for connecting with friends, but we can't let the 'honey' of contact get us 'stuck' struggling to connect face to face.

Happiness Looks Different On Different People

Eeyore watches the stars with his friends.

In "Donkey For A Day," an early episode of The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, Piglet becomes concerned for Eeyore's apparently constant state of sadness. Piglet enlists the rest of their friends to help cheer up the gloomy donkey. They each attempt to do so with their own favorite activities, all ignoring Eeyore's protests. When Piglet's turn comes, he has failed to think of a fun activity, following Eeyore to the top of his hill to apologize. It is then that Eeyore informs Piglet that he sits on the hill not because he is sad, but because he likes to watch the clouds. He never needed cheering up, and in the end, Piglet gave him the best gift by simply listening.

Just because someone is quiet, or enjoys a bit of alone time now and then, doesn't mean there is something wrong. Different things bring happiness to different people, and that happiness may not always look how we expect it to. The best thing we can do, if concerns arise, is to ask, listen and respect what that person needs.

Love Can Be Complicated, And Not Always Obvious

Rabbit and Kessie. Credit: Disney

In the episode "Find Her, Keep Her," Rabbit reluctantly takes guardianship of Kessie, a baby bluebird who lost her nest during a storm. At first, Rabbit seems annoyed by the chaos that caring for Kessie causes to his well organised life, though they eventually form a tight bond. After an incident in which Kessie almost floats away in a bubble, Rabbit forbids her from ever flying in fear of losing her. This is a rule he continues to strictly enforce as Kessie grows, up until the end of the following Autumn, when the little bird's instincts drive her to want to fly South for winter. Though heartbroken, Rabbit eventually agrees to let her go, with a promise that she will visit in Spring. Piglet is confused by Rabbit's sadness at Kessie's departure, thinking his strict behavior had meant he didn't like her. Pooh corrects him in an adorably simple fashion.

"Sometimes, people care too much. I think it's called... love."

Most parents struggle in the early days with a newborn, reflecting Rabbit's early struggle with baby Kessie. His later struggle to let her go echoes a later part of parenthood. More often than not, parents are not strict with their children out of cruelty, or lack of love, but out of fear that the children will find themselves hurt or in trouble. Eventually, though, the best parents will realize when to let go.

Families Are Built On Love, Not Just Blood

Tigger and his true family. Credit: Disney.

Tired of being "The onliest one," The Tigger Movie follows Tigger as he sets out to find his family. After a series of misadventures in which the other residents of he Hundred Acre Wood try, but fail to help him, Tigger runs off into a snowstorm to look for his Family Tree. His friends soon set out to find him, and when an argument between Rabbit and Tigger triggers an avalanche, Tigger bounces his friends up to safety in the branches of what he had believed to be his Family Tree. Tigger eventually realizes that he had a family all along—his friends.

The Tigger Movie teaches an important and enduring lesson on what it means to be a Family, and the different forms that families can take. Most families are bonded by blood, but this is not always the case. Some families, like Tigger's are built from very close groups of friends that care for each other. In either case, it is the bonds of love between them that are most important.

Focus On What Someone Can Do, Not What They Can't

Piglet feels unappreciated. Credit: Disney.

Early in Piglet's Big Movie, Pooh and the gang hatch yet another crazy scheme to collect honey from the local bees by luring them into a false hive. Piglet, stumbling upon his friends while the plan is already in progress, is quickly told he is too small to be of any help. Things do not go quite as planned, and the bees are only trapped thanks to Piglet's quick thinking, though his efforts go mostly unnoticed. It is not until later in the film, when Piglet has gone missing, that the others remember and appreciate all the little things he does that help them in big ways.

Not everyone is good at everything, and that is perfectly alright. Everyone does have something that they are good or even the best at. Even if it is something small, should be remembered and encouraged.

The Unknown Is Only Scary While It Remains Unknown

The gang meets Lumpy. Credit: Disney.

Panic ensues in the Hundred Acre Wood during Pooh's Heffalump Movie after a Heffalump footprint is found near Rabbit's house. After informing the curious Roo of how terrifying Heffalumps are supposed to be, Rabbit leads an expedition into Heffalump Hollow to capture one of the creatures, leaving Roo behind due to the supposed danger. Roo, still more curious than frightened, heads into Heffalump Hollow himself, soon capturing a young Heffalump named Lumpy. He quickly learns that Heffalumps are not nearly as frightening as his friends thought, and the pair become fast friends.

As Roo and all his friends learn, it is easy to be scared of something we have never seen, or know little about. Once we become better informed about these things, they are often not so scary at all.

You Are Braver Than You Believe, Stronger Than You Seem, And Smarter Than You Think

Hunting for Christopher Robin. Credit: Disney.

Struggling with how to tell Pooh Bear that he will be going away to school the next day, Christopher Robin leaves Pooh with this important advice:

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

Each piece of advice relates directly to one of Pooh's friends. The first to Piglet, second to Tigger and third to Rabbit. Along their quest to find the apparently missing Christopher Robin during Pooh's Grand Adventure, each of them encounter a situation in which this advice would have come in very useful, but all of them struggle with self-doubt, not helped by the fact that Pooh fails to accurately remember Christopher's words. It is only later, bolstered by Pooh's belief in them, that Piglet, Tigger and Rabbit overcome their insecurities.

We are all capable of more than we believe possible, if we put our minds to it and push the limits. Surrounding yourself with other people who believe in your abilities, or even just one person, will help accomplish your goals.

Reading, Writing And Spelling Are Important

The Backson. Credit: Disney

On at least two occasions, first in Pooh's Grand Adventure and again in the 2011 Winnie The Pooh Film, the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood are sent on potentially dangerous wild-goose-chase adventures, because either Christopher Robin misspelled a word in his note or Owl failed to read them properly. While everyone comes out okay, there are a few close calls in both cases.

Though many of the misspellings in Pooh films, such as 'Hunny' and 'Rabbit's Howse,' are innocent and harmless, the above instances show how a misspelled word in the wrong place can potentially cause very big problems. It is an early lesson for children, and a reminder for adults, of why learning how to spell properly is so important.

Kristy Anderson
Kristy Anderson
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Kristy Anderson

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