This week I spent my afternoons reading The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
For those of you who have never heard of it, it is a wonderful little book that illustrates the ideologies of Taoism by presenting them within the world of A.A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh.
The book is a short, quick read, making it easy to return to certain chapters again and again. It does a great job explaining Taoism in a way that is easy for the reader to understand. The main point that the author makes is that each character in the Hundred Acre Woods represents certain ways that a person could be living their life.
“While Eeyore frets and Piglet hesitates and Rabbit calculates and Owl pontificates… Pooh just is.”
From the Taoist perspective, the book works to present “a particular way of appreciating, learning from, and working with whatever happens in everyday life” (pg. 5). Simply put: when understood and utilized for what it is, life is sweet.
Everything that I took from this book can be tied back to my struggles with anxiety and my journey towards more mindful living… learning how to worry less and appreciate more.
I particularly connected with the chapter, Bisy Backson. Rabbit (otherwise known as a “Backson”) spends his days running around like a lunatic. His purpose in life is defined by his ability to go, go go with the single purpose of working to one day achieve the “Great Reward”.
For me, this type of life represented our current culture the best. The idea of constantly chasing to attain all type of stuff: the best job, the most money, the newest car, the biggest house, the trendiest clothes, the most delicious food… the list just keeps on going. We are bombarded with messages of consumerism every single day and brainwashed to believe that true happiness comes from reaching the “American Dream.” Yet, most people slide through their lives stressed and depressed, focusing only on the day that they can retire and finally enjoy their life.
We are all being raised as Bisy Backsons, and it is no wonder that rates of anxiety have skyrocketed.
Emily and I have written many recent posts on such topics as staying true to yourself and learning how to create your own values. The message we are trying to spread aligns with the most important point in Hoff’s book:
“The masters of life know the Way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond Cleverness and knows beyond Knowledge.”
Just like Pooh, every person has the ability to clear their “overstuffed” mind in order to create the emptiness it needs to once again appreciate the world around us and achieve pure happiness. When we learn how to relinquish control and go along with the natural order of life, we are finally open to being truly healthy, relaxed and content.
“A way of life that keeps saying, ‘around the next corner, above the next step’ works against the natural order of things and makes it so difficult to be happy and good that only a few get to where they would naturally have been in the first place.”
The tao of pooh is inside every single one of us if only we can learn how to stop chasing and be present with the world, right here and now. It starts by getting to know your true self and trusting that it knows how to take you where you belong. As Emily wrote last week, the journey is the destination.
To anyone that struggles with general anxiety, I highly recommend reading The Tao of Pooh. You can find new and used copies on Amazon.