Who is your favorite character from children’s literature? Ever since I was a kid, it’s been Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh, hands down.

Why? Beyond Eeyore’s amusingly dour wisdom, it’s that he owns his darker feelings. So much of what we’re taught as children, and even as adults, can emphasize a saccharine-sweet, hyper-colorized view of the world.

Children are more perceptive than we often give them credit for, and they can struggle to make sense of things. I know I did when I was young. While I received powerful messages from my parents to put on a happy face no matter what, my little squeaky toy Eeyore’s somber expression was a permission slip to feel bad. He was a secret — and welcome — companion in my sadness.

What Eeyore symbolizes in his wonderful glumness is the ability to delve into our more shadowy emotions, even celebrating them in a sad-songs-say-so-much kind of way.

Yes, people struggle with depression, and it can be crippling. But what I’m talking about is recognizing the painful truth that things aren’t always right in the world and that bad things can happen to good people, even to good kids.

Giving ourselves permission to feel bad allows us a broader, more nuanced emotional palette from which we can experience the world and the truth of ourselves.

So put on your favorite Carpenters album and have yourself a good pout. Just make sure to come out of it on the other side. OK?

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.
“Why, what’s the matter?”
“Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.”
“Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
“Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”