Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Which I Write About The Eeyore Effect

The Eeyore Effect

In Benjamin Hoff’s The Te of Piglet there is a chapter called 'The Eeyore Effect'. In these pages Hoff views a development in which an increasing number of people are becoming more negative as time ticks by, shooting down and smothering the growth of those people smaller and weaker than they, (whom Hoff calls piglets). Like he says about Eeyore, “There is something in each of us that wants us to be unhappy… It contaminates the mind behind the expression, with negative energy, and spreads outward, like a disease.”(Hoff, 54) Those that are miserable want to make others just as depressed, thinking that theirs is the only right way, the realistic way, never accepting that reality itself is made by how one interprets it.
In the part of the chapter to which I relate with the most, he explains how one's educators, whether being a real teacher or one with supposed knowledge, can actually inhibit the growth of the learner. They push negative information on children; how there are problems in the world that can't be fixed. They tell the learner how helpless they are, and then the children themselves become bitter and angry, successfully producing only more 'Eeyores'. “The Eeyores are… eliminating what they consider unnecessary… Art Creative Writing, Drama, and so on-classes that help students observe, reason, and communicate as well as keep their spirits and the left sides of their brains alive,”(Hoff, 72) in essence taking away their ability to live their lives fully.

It is all because of the modern romanticizing of all things negative. Society slaves away to uphold the appeal of deathly thin super models, violent movies, and music filled with vulgarity and then complain that society is becoming more rotten and immoral by the day when in truth it’s all their pessimism that breeds more of itself, spreading from person to person like a black plague of so-called realism. A reality without imagination and creativity, trudging away to the dull acceptance that one’s life is never going to get better because they just don’t try.
I was once a 'Very Small Animal' like piglet, during my childhood, and like him there were some 'Eeyores' that constantly put me down. I was surrounded by this type of personality in several people, telling me that I would never amount to anything or mocking my achievements. Because I let myself be influenced in this way, I believe I matured far more quickly and negatively than I would have in other circumstances; in other words, becoming like 'Eeyore' myself. Before that time in my life, I had never been such a pessimistic person. On the contrary, I was one to always look on the bright side of things. And looking back on it while reading this book, I realized back then that I still had a chance to better myself. I didn’t have to lower myself or submit myself to the gloominess of these Eeyores in my life. Little by little, I tried letting these things go as I read what Hoff was writing about, and I began trying to not be Eeyore-ish myself. Trying to look past the negative, and instead of seeing obstacles trials, see them as opportunities to grow and build a personality. Because as Hoff says, “Without difficulties, life would be like a stream without rocks and curves-about as interesting as concrete.”(Hoff, 58) It worked for a while, though when I finished reading the book and put it back on the shelf, I quickly forgot these Taoist teachings of respecting one another, and went right back on my old ways of cursing my bad luck and the people around me instead of thanking the heavens for the things I had that were going right.

Which adds another example of how persistent negativity is in our culture. It just keeps coming back because we let it, and we let it back in because we are used to it and accept it as the norm. But the problem is not with how much pessimism and negativity there is around us, but with the problems perceived by society, “They believe the negative and not the positive and are so obsessed with What’s Wrong that the Good Things in Life pass them by unnoticed.”(Hoff, 59) Like these people I was so preoccupied with my problems that I didn’t appreciate my gifts until they had left and all I had was a past full of mistakes to look back on, adding to my pessimistic, “realist” attitude.

However, reading this book once again, I come to find that I have another chance to see the brighter things and no be dragged down by the muck around me. Because as Hoff says, “respect… is sinking like the Titanic-and consequently, so is the state of the earth, the family, and society.”(Hoff, 79) I don’t need to add myself to the already corroding and depressed masses of society. I know now that I have the opportunity to start a new cycle, a cycle in which everyone is kind to each other and helps one another become better themselves.