Excerpt from Chapter 15 of my book
Winnie the Pooh and Chinese Too
The other day, I was stressed out. How could I get up and try again, when so many rejections from others and losses in my life had left me feeling like there was no right way to continue? I picked up a book my husband was reading and surprisingly found an answer. “Through working in harmony with life’s circumstances, Taoist understanding changes what others may perceive as negative into something positive[i].” So, I thought, I can find a way to change a negative into a positive. Continuing to read, three ways to accomplish this became clear: honoring my true inner nature, changing my attitude of the world around me, and learning to yield.
One way to change a negative experience into a positive one is by honoring our true inner nature. In The Tao of Pooh it stated that “everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties[ii].” Sometimes, I felt like I was going to scream if I heard another person label me as lazy or a burden, just because I didn’t have a career, or money, or health, etc. When I tried to push myself too hard to reach their expectations, I got worse. Therefore, I decided to look around me. Working within the limitations of a disability, my friend Naomi, who used to be an educator, still taught others that came into her life and into her home. If she couldn’t go to them, she invited them to come to her. How many people benefited from her caring words and home-baked bread? So, deciding to try honoring my own inner nature, I used my love of literature and sent notes, poems, and stories to others who couldn’t get out much.
Another way to turn a negative experience into a positive one is by changing our attitude of the world around us. In The Tao of Pooh it states it this way: “To Lao-tse, the world was not a setter of traps but a teacher of valuable lessons[iii].”
In the show, Touched by an Angel[iv], the angel Monica became blind temporarily. She didn’t understand why at first, but eventually she came to realize that she needed to learn to listen with her heart so that she could teach others to listen with theirs. Deciding to try it, my husband and I discussed ways to rephrase my frustrating thoughts about my life. We changed “I have to get well right away to please others,” to “I’m learning how to appreciate each new accomplishment in each day.” Or else, “If this person judges me, that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I’m simply learning to better appreciate the abilities I have, and to better understand the struggles of others.”
Third, we can turn a negative experience into a positive one by learning to yield. A Chinese philosopher might point to a stream filled with rocks. Some would work to clear the rocks out of the way, so the stream could have a clear path. However, the water does not see the rocks as obstacles; it simply flows over and around them, adding new harmony to its tune. In The Tao of Pooh, it says: “The wise are who they are. They work with what they’ve got and do what they can do[v].”
In Winnie the Pooh’s forest, clever Rabbit would spend his time trying to devise ways to fit a round peg into a square hole. Knowledgeable Owl would spend his time trying to figure out why square pegs can’t fit into round holes. What would practical Winnie the Pooh do? Why, he would simply put the round peg in the round hole, the square peg in the square hole, and go off in search of more honey to eat. Deciding to try this, I made a goal to work toward my associate’s degree. After three years of taking only one to four credit hours per semester, I’ve made considerable progress. Only by letting go of the need to accomplish everything now, have I started to enjoy the process.
Therefore, changing a negative experience into a positive one really is possible. Reading further in the book it says, “The natural result of this harmonious way of living is happiness[vi].” So I decide to rejoice that today I have the strength to write another essay.
[i] Benjamin Hoff. The Tao of Pooh. Penguin Books. 1983. Page 6.
[ii] Ibid. Hoff. Page 4.
[iii] Ibid. Hoff. Pages 4, 5.
[iv] “Amazing Grace”. Touched by an Angel. Video: CBS Worldwide Inc. 1998.
[v] Benjamin Hoff. The Tao of Pooh. Penguin Books. 1983. Page 64.
[vi] Ibid. Hoff. Page 5.
woman with white tiger. By SarahRichterArt. https://pixabay.com/en/nature-animal-world-3106213/