A Bear of Little Brain“While Eeyore frets and Piglet hesitates and Rabbit calculates and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is,” writes Benjamin Hoff in his book The Tao of Pooh.  Although he is a self-professed “bear of little brain,” his simplistic approach to life, effortless calm, and ability to stay in the present have a great deal to teach us.

Unlike Rabbit or Owl, Pooh relies on his innate bear sense to guide him…to find honey, to find his way home, to know what to do next, etc.  It often seems as though Pooh does not have a clue, and has no choice but to rely on his gut instincts because of his obvious lack of higher intelligence. This turns out to almost always be a good thing for him. Like Pooh, we all could benefit by learning to trust and listen to that compelling voice and knowing within us instead of relying on reason, intelligence, and the “shoulds.”   Hoff writes:

Hoff writes:

A brain can do all kinds of things, but the things it can do are not the most important things. Abstract cleverness of mind only separates the thinker from the world of reality, and that world, the Forest of real life, is in a desperate condition now because of too many who think too much and care too little.

This “abstract cleverness of mind” he refers to is the logical, strategic, left brain thinking we have come to teach and value so much as a society.  As in Winnie the Pooh’s example, we are going to have to develop our ability to intuit – to think in more creative, connected, global terms.  Sounds pretty complex for a simple bear, but it is really just relaxing and not thinking too much, like Pooh. It is letting the heart brain and the mind join to yield wisdom and heeding that inner wisdom – not intellect and logic.

To have an empty mind and to just be here now is actually quite difficult for most of us. To quiet the constant mental chatter and recognize the stories and projections through which we view the world, is an acquired skill.   Pooh makes it look easy. This is the state of awareness taught and heightened in meditation and mindfulness practices.  Hoff explains:

The empty sort of mind is valuable for finding pearls and tails (Eeyore’s) and things because it can see what is in front of it.  An overstuffed mind is unable to. While the clear mind listens to the bird singing, the Stuffed-Full-of-Knowledge-and-Cleverness mind wonders what kind of bird is singing.  The more Stuffed-Up it is, the less it can hear through its own ears and see through its own eyes.

He goes on to say:

Within each of us there is an Owl, a Rabbit, an Eeyore and a Pooh.  For too long, we have chosen the way of Owl and Rabbit.  Now, like Eeyore, we complain about all the results.  But that accomplishes nothing.  If we are smart, we will choose the way of Pooh.  As if from far away, it calls to us with the voice of a child’s mind.  It may be hard to hear at times, but it is important just the same, because without it, we will never find our way through the Forest.

image source:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/lemuelinchrist/


  1. Ande Waggener Reply

    You and I have a lot of overlap in what we read, Debbie! 🙂 I did a video on the “Pooh Way” a few months ago. I love The Tao of Pooh, and I am a hundred percent devoted to being more Pooh and less Owl, Eeyore, Piglet and Rabbit and Tigger (although I love them all, and little Roo too 🙂 ).

    You’ve written a wonderful summary of “Poohlosophy”. Thanks for reminding me to keep the mind chatter to a minimum. 🙂

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Ande, great minds in the same direction, huh!? Actually, I was reading this book (won’t say which one), and I was all excited. I thought it was going to be good for at least a couple of brain blogs, but it was very disappointing. So, I resorted to something tried and true….Pooh and the gang! It is fun for me, every once and a while, to do something lighter and just easy. I think that is pretty good Poohlosophy! It is amazing how many of the child hood favorites really have a good message.

  2. Hi Debbie, I love your ‘Poohlosophy’ and now hope that maybe one day I will find my way out of the Forest. Take care, Stephen

  3. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Stephen, I am pretty sure we are all gonna find our way out of the forest and leave a path for others. I wanna have a little fun and bouncing time with Tigger first, though! 🙂

  4. I read The Tao of Pooh some time ago. It is one of my favorite books. So simple. So true!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Most of the time, simple is best. We have a way of making everything way too complicated usually! I know I do or used to. Working on it!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      It is an oldie, but goodie. It is a great, little book to have on the book shelf. Always makes me smile.

  5. Debbie,

    I love this so much! I want to be like Pooh too! I’m making more space in my life for intuition and creativity. As Pooh knows so well,
    “space” is the key. Thanks for this super lovely blog post. I love the scientific brain focus too, but this is a refreshing balance to that. You are the best!

  6. Debbie Hampton Reply

    Sandra, thanks so much for the kind words. I have come to really appreciate Pooh’s simple wisdom and strive to be more present like him.

    I also really love Tigger and his bounciness and enthusiasm and just the plain joy he exudes. I should hope to be like him at times, too. I don’t know what the neuroscience is behind his philosophy, but I think it is surely full of dopamine squirts.

  7. Debbie, this is a great message, so inspiring. I love Pooh since I am a little girl. I find it facsinating how you transmit such a powerful message. Your thoughts are an inspiration to all. With much love!

  8. Pooh-ness slows us, makes us kinder.
    Thank you for this good reminder.
    I love this book and should promote it,
    though kids think Walt Disney wrote it.

    (Life should be more about hunny than munny.)

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Mikey, very well done! Pooh would be proud. Thanks for making me smile. 🙂 That is gonna be my new motto….”Life should be more about hunny than munny.”

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  10. Oh dear. I definitely have Owl tendencies! The Tao of Pooh is one of my husband’s favorite books. I didn’t get much from it when he urged me to read it, but that was a few years ago, and I think I’m ready to give it a second try now.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      I always get a little different perspective on books I reread again later. Some that did not speak to me at all before at all may make profound sense now. Some still don’t make any sense or interest me. 🙂

  11. I’ve just come back from an 8 day silent retreat and am off on a Buddhist mindfulness retreat in September….hoping to learn to be more like Pooh though it hasn’t quite happened yet!

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Great for you! I would love to do that. I think a silent retreat would be heavenly. I have talked a lot less the last couple of years because of a brain injury and resulting speech challenges. It has actually been wonderful. Quite a teaching experience. Blessings to you on your journey!

  12. I’m a big fan of Pooh and his ways of operating in life Debbie. I know a lot of Eeyores and have written about them way back in the beginning of my blogging days. And whilst I’m a listening to the birds singing type – I have my moments when I wonder which bird it is that’s doing the singing?

  13. I too like the lessons from Pooh, Debbie and you’ve done a great job explaining it. This line sums it up for me, “We all could benefit by learning to trust and listen to that compelling voice and knowing within us instead of relying on reason, intelligence, and the ‘shoulds.’”

    • It just delights me to find wisdom in such a beloved crew and book from childhood. 🙂

  14. I’ve always always always loved pooh to bits! So the Tao of Pooh also became my all time favorite book soon enough. The metaphors and wisdom in this book are pure gold!

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