The essence of the philosophy of Winnie the Pooh is that that people can live in the same reality, yet perceive it so differently.
It’s happened to me. I’ll bet it’s happened to you. I hope my article this week helps your reality become a better reality.
What is the philosophy of Winnie the Pooh?
Imagine you walk up to a rental car counter after a long flight. You are displeased to learn that the luxury car you reserved is not available and you have to accept a mid-size car instead. Bummer! Then, while you are still at the counter, a customer who had booked an economy car is excited to learn that because it is not available, she will be upgraded to the same type of mid-size car that disappointed you. You’re bummed. She’s thrilled. Same realities. Different expectations.
Your Happiness Is Not Your Reality
I read a study about the happiness of four thousand Americans. The results were enlightening. Most believed if they had more they would be happier. But the results revealed this was not true. Those who sacrificed more to help others were happier than those who had more, even a lot more. The perception? Have more and you will be happier. The reality? Do more for others and you will be happier.
Bad Weather and Happiness
A study performed by Britain’s Leicester University ranked the United States a paltry #23 among the “World’s Happiest Countries.” Which country was number one? Denmark. The takeaway was that the happiest countries had very little perceptual disparity among the populace. In these countries, citizens paid high taxes to have equal access to healthcare, education, and an employment safety-net. Turns out most of these countries also happen to have bad weather. High taxes. Bad weather. Happy people. The takeaway? It’s not how we live (reality), it’s how we live compared to those around us (perception).
Are you Tigger or Eeyore?
Earlier this year I suffered a bout of the flu. Fever, chills, aches, the works. I felt sorry for myself until I remembered the story of Randy Pausch, a 47 year old professor from Carnegie Mellon University. Randy was a husband and father. He was also dying from pancreatic cancer. In his famous last lecture, “Living Your Childhood Dreams,” Randy challenged us to approach life as reflected by one of two characters in Winnie the Pooh. Are you the fun loving “Tigger” or the sad sack “Eeyore?” While Randy couldn’t change the hand he was dealt, he could darn well control how he played that hand, and he did. So can you.
“The question to settle is not what we would do if we had means, time, influence and educational advantage. The question is what we will do with what we already have.”
– Hamilton Wright Mabie