The bear who needs no introduction…

… but gets one anyway.

More about the Author

Alan Alexander Milne (1882–1956), the author of the original Winnie the Pooh stories, served as a signalling officer during World War I. The horrors of the war inspired him to write positive and joyful stories of days when life was simpler.

In his autobiography It’s Too Late Now (1939), Milne dedicated a considerable part to his fascination with his ‘own beginnings’ and his need to write positive tales for adults that would enable them to break away from the reality of war and it’s consequences. Who does not want that right?

More about the stories

Now for those of you who have not read Winnie the Pooh… I do not even know what to say to you. I am shocked and saddened. No, really, I am joking, I can be tolerant. What you need to know is that there are ten stories in each of the two books. All the stories take place in a beautiful forest called the Hundred Acre Wood. The premise of the storybooks is that toys belonging to Christopher Robin come to life and experience exciting adventures together. They are also constantly caring and nurturing towards one another. The stories involve different characters, but without exception, they all include a bear named Winnie the Pooh.

Who is Pooh?

Winnie the Pooh is also known as Pooh or Edward bear. In the introduction to Winnie the Pooh, Milne explains how the name came about: Pooh was the name of a swan Christopher Robin once had, ‘or the swan had Christopher Robin, I don’t know which, when we said goodbye we took the name with us, we didn’t think the swan would want it anymore’ (Milne, 2006, p. i). The name Winnie comes from a black bear cub, Winnipeg, who had been a mascot for the Canadian Army Veterinary before ending up at the London Zoo. It was there that Milne and his son met Winnie and she inspired their imaginations. There is a great movie about Winnipeg called, A Bear Named Winnie (2004).

Winnie the Pooh loves honey and condensed milk and spends his days playing and helping his many friends. Pooh is a bear ‘of Very Little Brain’ (Milne, 2007, p. 99) yet is often the hero in the plot. The other main characters are briefly described below:

The other Characters

PIGLET is a pig. He enjoys spending time with his friends, smelling the flowers and having wonderful adventures despite being overly cautious.

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is a human boy. Although he does not appear physically in every story, he is present by implication. The narrator tells the stories to him and the reader.

EEYORE is a pessimistic donkey. He is capable of love and kindness towards the other animals. His friends, in turn, are fond of him.

RABBIT (obviously a rabbit) enjoys taking command of situations, frequently resulting in disastrous outcomes. Rabbit is also confident and intelligent.

OWL is an intellectual, although he overestimates his intellectual abilities. The other characters like to avoid his long-winded tales.

KANGA is a Kangaroo. She is the only female character and Roo’s mother. Kanga is kind and nurturing with a level of strictness.

ROO is a joey and he is Kanga’s son. Roo is lively, curious, and rather impulsive.

TIGGER is a tiger. He is a lot like Roo, and even comes across as his older brother. Tigger is playful and impulsive, but at times exhibits traits of caution. He is also very confident.


What are strengths and virtues?

A summary from my dissertation.

In this explanation, I do not want to bore you with too much theory. I am trying my best to keep my summary short.

Positive psychology

The field of positive psychology is filled with research that tries to define or quantify happiness. As a result researchers are asking what characteristics lead to an individual’s happiness and well-being. Most noteworthy, is the manual written by Peterson and Seligman. Their manual is all about classifying positive psychology into usable tools. Furthermore, their work includes the largest collection of research. This is why I believe my blog can be useful, because my focus is to explain this system using simple everyday analogies.

How did it start?

Pre-dating 1998, little scientific research explored the role of positive emotions and strengths in the prevention and treatment of mental health. All of this began to change when Martin Seligman became president of the American Psychological Association (Bacon, 2005).

Seligman believed psychology placed too much focus on mental health as an illness. He wanted to encourage research that explored the positive consequences that can come from negative experiences. Seligman and other positive psychology researchers set about redefining mental health in terms of ‘well-being’. What does it mean to be well? Well being is no longer just the absence of illness or dysfunction. To be well is a distinct state of existance with its own traits.

New Classification system

Hence this new line of thinking showed that character strengths are tools that promote optimal functioning. Even in the face of trauma, positive consequences were possible if strengths were utilised. However, there was still a problem of classifying strengths. This is because positive emotions are all so multi-faceted. Therefore, the manual of sanities became such an important tool. Peterson and Seligman’s classification of six virtues and twenty-four-character strengths is the most inclusive classification system in positive psychology. In addition, it provides a legitimate means of referring to strengths in a way that is measurable and therefore makes psychological well-being possible.

What does the classification system look like?

Firstly, there are the six core virtues. These virtues are;

  • Humanity (This virtue promotes altruistic pro-social behaviour)
  • Wisdom (These cognitive strengths involve gaining and applying knowledge)
  • Courage (These emotional strengths necessitate restraint to accomplish goals)
  • Justice (civic strengths lay the groundwork for a healthy community and society)
  • Transcendence (This virtue is about a search for meaning and purpose)
  • Temperance (These strengths promote a virtue of moderation).

Secondly, there are the twenty-four-character strengths that are the core ingredients to well being. Finally, the third level is the one in which habits of behaviour turn into strengths, for instance, optimism and empathy lead to kindness .

In conclusion, do not stress if all of this seems a little confusing. It will become more clear as we go through each virtue. You will see for yourself what I mean, but you are always welcome to ask questions.

P.s. Picture: Irini Simitci-Green


Dear Reader

Who am I?

Please afford me a moment to introduce myself. My name is Lizette Dohmen. I have a husband and two young children (one girl and one boy) and two adopted fur babies (one German Shepherd and one Rhodesian Ridgeback). I have a degree in Social informatics. The study of how people pursue, navigate, consume, consolidate, assimilate and convey information. I also have a Master’s degree in Psychology. Specifically early childhood development with a focus on Positive Psychology and emotional resilience.

Naturally, none of this tells you who I am. Why do we insist on giving out this kind of information as an introduction? What have I told you about myself as an individual? It is all general and impersonal. Skillfully worded, using familiar terms such as family, dogs, studies, so that you think you know me. I have not shared anything of myself with you – I have not made myself vulnerable to you. I risk nothing and, in turn, I hope that you will read my blog and share your thoughts. Does this seem fair?

Who am I really?

What if I changed my opening paragraph to include the following information? I married my high school sweetheart. We were only married a year when he had two massive heart attacks. Love of my life, and I was almost widowed at the age of 23. Should I tell you that for years I required treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder from the shock and trauma of that day.

What if I told you that my focus on Positive Psychology and early childhood development came from being a trauma counselor for a non-profit organisation? My choice to work with children was because I was told that I would never be able to have children. Seven years and multiple miscarriages later, I have two beautiful healthy babies. What if I tell you that every time I have to take my German Shepherd to the vet I feel like my ribs are bursting with pain. I worry that this time they won’t be able to treat him and the fear of losing him paralyses me? Do you see me differently now?

Who am I as a person?

Would it be different, if instead of telling you about my family, I told you about my habits and quirks? For example, I truly believe black cats are a bad omen. I hate it that my parents never gave me a second name because I always feel my ID document looks so empty. Some days, I am convinced that duck-egg blue is my favourite colour. On other days it positively must be ballet-slipper-pink.

I love chocolate bars, but cannot stand chocolate flavoured anything. Similarly, I hate bananas but love banana bread and any banana flavoured treats. I always joke that there is not enough alcohol in the world to make a conversation about golf more interesting, but one glass of wine and I am on my ear. I can watch violent movies, but if an animal or a child get hurt I cry for days. What if I tell you that I am still afraid of the dark and I still secretly sleep with a Winnie the pooh teddy bear that is exactly as old as I am and barely still holding it together? Does this make you see me differently?

Why is all of this important?

Yes, I have a degree in positive psychology but I have fears. I have hang-ups and I have had to overcome pain just like you. Some days I succeed. Other days I fail. Some days I am a great and enthusiastic mother; other days I accidentally put my underwear in the freezer (true story) and I hide in the shower just to get away from the children and the dogs.

Just like you, the real me is a complicated amalgamation of ideas, beliefs, values and perspectives that have been shaped by my life experiences and choices. I am like you. I am constantly evolving as I am confronted by new experiences, new information or conflicting information. Like you, I like to believe that all of this accumulates to consistent personal growth. I am also pretty sure that on some days that personal growth comes into question when I just do not feel like adulting.

What is my blog about?

By now I hope that you understand that this blog is not about preaching or teaching. It is not about me seeking a platform to show you how clever I think I am. Instead, my blog is here to share with you some of the theories I have learned and researched about positive psychology.

I hope that it may be useful to yourself and your family during this time of uncertainty and worldwide pandemonium. I hope that together we can share practical ideas on how to implement these theories and together we can pull each other through this crisis in a positive way. Using the tools provided by Positive Psychology can be mutually beneficial to us and those around us. Remember one thing, just like a virus, enthusiasm and a positive outlook can be equally contagious. Go out (figuratively) and infect each other with that!

Tomorrow I will start by explaining the virtue of Justice and focus specifically on the strength of citizenship. Trust me, it is not as political as it sounds, but more about this tomorrow.

In the words of Disney’s Tigger, “TTFN”. Tata for now.