January Book Club: The Tao of Pooh

The Tao of Pooh & The Vinegar Tasters
photo of The Vinegar Tasters from Wikipedia
Above: In The Vinegar Tasters, Lao-tse is smiling while tasting the vinegar (an allegory for the Elixir of Life) because to him, life is sweet.

Coming from someone who is extremely Type A, complete with anxiety, high stress levels, and a tendency to become overwhelmed quite frequently, The Tao of Pooh was a much needed antidote to the poison that was my stressed-out condition post-holidays. This book very often elicited audible sighs of relief from me as I read and learned that it is OK to just “let it go” (Frozen, anyone?)! I don’t think I could have read this at a better time (even though my sister gave it to me almost 3 and a half years ago when I was totally overwhelmed right before my wedding!) as I desperately needed a mental makeover after this year’s busy holiday season and with all of our upcoming events this year; I needed to learn how to relax and just “BE”. And that I did (at least in theory!).

Lao-tse, the father of Taoism, believed that happiness was living in harmony with the Tao. Hoff elaborates, “To Lao-tse, the world was not a setter of traps but a teacher of valuable lessons. Its lessons needed to be learned, just as its laws needed to be followed; then all would go well… What he saw operating behind everything in heaven and earth he called Tao (DAO), “the Way.” Therefore, instead of being high strung and submitting to the constant demands of this busy world, to live a happy life, one must instead submit to Nature and live in harmony with everything surrounding it.

Another major characteristic of Taoism is Wu Wei, which literally means “without doing, causing, or making.” Because I’m usually the queen of “I’ll be happy when…”, one of my goals this year is to live more in the moment and to be present wherever I am; to stop stressing about everything and just letting things happen as they will, accepting that I can’t control it all. Hoff says we need to learn to work with our own Inner Nature and in doing so, we will be happier, more content, and become wise. He explains that in our rush to always look busy, to always be doing something or going somewhere, we are actually missing out on life, even if we think we’re experiencing all life has to offer by cramming in as many activities as possible into a day’s time.

In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff does a brilliant job of introducing, highlighting, and illustrating the somewhat difficult to understand principles of Taoism through the familiar world of the beloved Winnie the Pooh. This book has already become a bible of sorts for me, especially when I need to remember that the important things in life do not include material things. Though I am severely oversimplifying Taoism here, the basic principles of living in harmony with Nature and finding your own inner peace, both essential to finding happiness and contentment, are guidelines to which we should all adhere.

Did anyone else read this book or have you read it before? If so, let me know what you thought of it! If not, I highly recommend it. I loved it!

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a quiet, relaxing weekend!



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