When I was a child, I loved Winnie the Pooh. He was a sweet, chubby, simple-minded bear that seemd to spend his days in the pursuit of two things: fun and honey. Pooh didn’t seem to be too stressed about where his next meal was coming from, or the fact that his friends considered him to be a bit of a simpleton. He just lived his life joyfully, staying in the present, and always, always trusting that somehow things would turn out right.
Pooh, unbeknown to me at the time, was living some of the basic tenets of Taoism. Simplicity. Humility. Peacefulness.
Just recently I re-discovered Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh, and have delighted in reading it with a new understanding. Now, with many more years (and yes, sigh, maybe a few extra pounds) tucked under my belt, I understand Pooh was not so simple…he was actually wise, and what the Taoists would call an Uncarved Block. He was living a life free of worry, free of arrogance, free of complexitiy…in other words, Pooh had discovered the path to a joyful, simple life.
This made me think about how we women spend so much of our lives in fast-motion, running, doing, tending to other people’s needs. Many of us lead lives that are far south of simple. And sometimes in the process of daily living, we lose track, we lose ourselves, we lose our way… and we trade our authentic needs to keep pace.
Other times we get caught in the trap of more, letting “stuff” substitute for spiritual or emotional substanence. In the process we exhaust our spirits and we become disconnected emotionally, physically, to the little joys that surround us. Life then becomes about the next task, the next project, the next errand, the next demand.
I believe by midlife, we deserve more. As females, we tend to be the caretakers, the wish-granters for everyone else’s joy, often prioritizing the happiness of other people before our own.
It’s time to re-calibrate. Pull the plug on your perfectionism, tear up the to-do-list, and head out in search of your joy. Your bliss. Your honey.
How do you do this? You start by saying Noooooooooooooo. As much as you want. As much as you need. And then you start investigating what makes you happy, even joyful. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book (or a naughty one like 50 Shades of Grey). Maybe it’s playing King of the Hill in your backyard with your children (or grandkids) while dinner waits. Or maybe it’s just enjoying the simple joy of silence, the chaotic-free sound of quiet time. All to yourself.
Trust me, the world won’t fall apart when you step forward and demand your right to bliss. (Though you might upset someone else’s applecart when you say NO, remember, it’s okay to prioritize your happiness.) The laundry can wait, but your authentic happiness can’t. For if not now, when?
In the Tao Te Ching, a basic guideline on the principles of Taoism, its author Lao Tzu talks about tempering a busy life. In his profoundly simple and yet complex verse he says, “By not doing, everything is done.”
Pooh seemed to understand this basic philosophy.
“How do you do it, Pooh?”
“Do What?” asked Pooh.
“Become so effortless.”
“I don’t do much of anything,” he said.
“But all those things of yours get done.”
“They just sort of happen,” he said. –The Tao of Pooh
Looks like that silly bear wasn’t so silly, after all.