10 Life Lessons From 'Winnie the Pooh'

by Caitlin White

A.A. Milne wasn't just a children's story writer — he was a philosopher. His iconic book Winnie-the-Pooh was first published on October 14, 1926, and there's a reason it has resonated through nearly a century: It has a lot to teach us, adults and children, about life.

As the story goes, Milne was inspired by his son Christopher Robin Milne and his favorite stuffed toy bear. The rest of the characters — Rabbit, Owl, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, and Tigger — were based off other pieces of his vast stuffed animal collection.

Milne created a collection of stories about Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals, particularly the honey-loving bear, starting with Winnie-the-Pooh. Tigger (the only one!) didn't even appear until his second project in the Hundred Acre Woods, The House on Pooh Corner. And it wasn't just a British or American phenomenon, the stories were translated into many, many languages.

Needless to say, there have also been dozens and dozens of versions of Pooh Bear since the 1920s. For our generation, an adaptation that was particularly prominent was one from Disney, with Winnie the Pooh in his famous red cutoff shirt.

I can admit now that I still sing the theme song to The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when I take my morning shower.

Along the way, writers and thinkers have stepped up to discuss the philosophy behind Milne's beloved bear, notably Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh, and there are plenty of wise life lessons we could all learn from Winnie the Pooh and his stuffed pals.

1. What Friendship Is Really All About

Pooh Bear taught us all so much about what friendship is and how it's expressed. Even through the toughest blustery days, your friends are there to walk beside you.

One of Milne's most popular quotes, this gets right at the gut of what love and friendship is all about. It's an honest feeling, straight from the mouth of a stuffed bear to his pig friend.

2. Always Believe In Yourself

Remember who you are and what you can do. It's more than you think. Don't be so hard on yourself.

3. Friends Are Never Far Away

And don't worry, even if you don't have a friend holding your hand through it all, they will always be there in spirit, cheering you on.

4. The Glass Is Half Full If You Believe It Is

Even Eeyore, who, let's face it, is clinically depressed, knows how to find the silver lining in some situations. Sure, his house continually falls down and his tail gets lost, but he has friends who always invite him to their gatherings, welcome him with warm hellos, and organize search parties when his tail goes missing. They don't antagonize him or make him feel out of place. And maybe that's why even Eeyore can see the glass isn't always half empty.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.“So it is.”“And freezing.”“Is it?”“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

5. Give People The Benefit of The Doubt

If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

You don't always know what someone else is going through, so if they're not listening or they act in ways you don't agree with, be patient with them. Who knows, maybe like Pooh and Tigger, someone who is your opposite could end up being your best friend.

6. It's Okay To Take Your Time

Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

No need to rush, everyone. Sometimes it's better to stop and think first.

7. You Look Darn Good The Way You Are

No one ever said anything mean about Pooh, even though he was stuffed with a little more fluff than the rest of the animals.

8. Always Focus on Today

It doesn't matter what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow, today has opened up for you to celebrate and enjoy. Remember: There's no excuse too small for a parade in the Hundred Acre Wood.

9. Love Requires Sacrifice

Love is taking a few steps backward, maybe even more … to give way to the happiness of the person you love.

I think Winnie the Pooh could have written any modern couple's wedding vows. Piglet, too, because it was he who said that you don't spell love, you feel it.

10. Keep An Eye Out For The People You Care About

Never, ever take those you love for granted because you never know when they might be gone.

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